Agni-VI

Agni 6 is an intercontinental ballistic missile being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the use of the Indian Defence Forces.

Description

Agni-VI is an intercontinental ballistic missile speculated to be in very rudimentary stages of development by India. It is said to be the latest and most advanced version among the Agni missiles. Capable of being launched from submarines or from land, it will be able to strike a target at a distance of 6000–10000 km with MIRVed warheads.

Opacity regarding the development

Range comparison of Agni missiles

Till 2009, it was reported that the Government of India had not considered the development of an ICBM with a range of 10,000 km or above. Speculations of an ongoing program for a longer range ICBM resurfaced in 2011. Some reports claimed that the ICBM is already named “Surya” and code named AGNI-VI.

Other reports suggest that New Delhi has not given serious weight to the necessity for an ICBM. DRDO can take up a project to develop India’s ICBM only after permission from the government of India. Since India is not a signatory to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Indian missile program is not limited by any treaty commitment to cap the development of ICBM capability. Some media reports have occasionally suggested that, despite India being a non-signatory to MTCR, there is a voluntary moratorium on developing missiles beyond the range of 5,000 km.

DRDO Newsletter

The existence of an ICBM program is still unclear and has never been officially acknowledged by the DRDO. However, in the DRDO newsletter of May 2011, while describing the achievements of a recently promoted scientist, it revealed that he headed a program code named A6, which will be an ICBM with a range in between 6,000-10,000 km and like some versions of its precursor Agni V, it will be capable of underwater launch with MIRV.

The letter read,

Chief Controller R&D (Missiles and Strategic Systems)Shri Avinash Chander, Distinguished Scientist, Programme Director, SFD and Director, Advanced Systems Laboratory has been appointed as Chief Controller R&D (Missiles and Strategic Systems) wef 3 May 2011. He is an eminent scientist in the field of Missiles and is the Chief Designer of Long-range missile system, with specific contribution in Agni programme management, mission design, guidance, navigation, simulation and terminal guidance. He has unique achievement of delivering and deploying three long-range Agni missile weapon systems viz, A1, A2 and A3.Presently, he is leading three major system developments; A2p, a technologically challenging state-of-the-art system; a 5,000 km canister-launched A5 system; and a 6000 km A6 system with multiple warheads (MIRV) capable of launching both from the ground and underwater

Indian Air Marshal’s allusion to a longer range ICBM

In June 2011, for the very first time then IAF’S Chief Marshal P.V. Naik vehemently argued in favour of broadening India’s nuclear strike capabilities beyond the immediate neighbourhood.

Naik, who heads the chiefs of staff committee, stated:

India should pursue an ICBM programme to acquire ranges of 10,000 km or even more. Breaking out of the regional context is important as the country’s sphere of influence grows. We have no territorial designs on any country, but India needs the capability to match its sphere of influence.

The air chief believes that an ICBM is within India’s grasp:

There’s no point capping the missile programme at 5,000 km. If we have the technical capability, we should build on it.

Confirmation of programme

On 20 June 2011 Indian Defence News published an article titled “India Serious About 10,000 km ICBM” which stated that India is seriously contemplating to enhance the reach of its strategic missiles and that the Ministry of Defense is considering a DRDO proposal to develop intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting targets 10,000 km away. Building an ICBM has international ramifications and India is a nuclear weapon state; the ultimate decision to go ahead with the proposal would be taken by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

In April 2012 Saraswat revealed that India had no plan to cap the Agni programme and there will be more missiles in the series.

Agni-VI SLBM

The SLBM version of missile will arm the Arihant class submarines of the Indian Navy. DRDO revealed in 2012 that it is also in the process of developing another variant of Agni-VI missile. This will be a submarine launched solid fuel missile with a maximum range of 6,000 kilometres and a payload of one tonne.

Questions of capability

In October 2011, a report was published by The Pioneer which raised serious doubts about DRDO’s ability to independently develop the “seeker technology” (guidance technology) eligible forICBMs, that could enable ballistic missiles to traverse long distances in excess of 10,000 km.

The same report also asserted Russia’s willingness to provide India with help in the field of “seeker technology”. In light of this report and the original DRDO newsletter of May 2011, it appears that AGNI-VI will have a strike-range between 6,000 km to over 10,000 km. The authenticity of this report is disputed by at least one foreign newspaper, with the counter-claim that the involvement of Russia is probably inflated out of proportion, because if the report about Russian involvement is true, Russia may be suspected of violating the Missile Technology Control Regime.

In response to the scepticism, a top DRDO scientist firmly asserted that India has almost all the equipments and technology needed to develop ICBMs, “but where the warhead should go or what the range should be will have to be a political call.”

@ India Defence

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Comments
  1. nilesh singh says:

    target 20000 jai hoooo….

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