Though Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which develops and manufactures missiles for the Indian armed forces, is yet to make an official statement on the new one in Agni series, it has announced intentions to work on missiles with a target range of 10,000 km.
Technically, Agni-V is an intermediate range ballistic missile and falls 1,000 km to 2,000 km short of being called a real intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). But it is quasi-ICBM, as it can hit targets in other continents, depending on the location from where it is fired.
For instance, Agni-V can hit Australia if fired from the Andaman islands, hit most of Europe, including Moscow, when fired from Delhi or Kashmir, and parts of Africa if it is launched from Mumbai or Gujarat.
While Agni-V has a range of 5,500 km, DRDO plans now to build missiles that are truly ICBM in range with 10,000 km-plus target capacity.
China, incidentally, has missiles with range of over 13,000 km.
“We go from here to many other missiles, which will have capability for MIRV (Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle), for anti-satellite system. It (new missile) will also be built using this technology for launching micro-, mini- and nano-satellites to meet the requirements of the armed forces on very, very short notice,” DRDO chief Dr V.K. Saraswat said.
Agni-V can carry up to three nuclear warheads, and officials said the next missile in the series might carry even up to 10 nuclear warheads, capable of hitting multiple targets simultaneously.
Buoyed by the success of Agni-V, sources said defence scientists and engineers are now ready to move ahead with the planned next-generation missile that can cover twice the distance.
The DRDO is also working on integrating Agni-V with submarine.
- The Asian Age