India Successfully Tests Agni-5 ICBM With MIRV Warhead

Missile Test

On March 11th, India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted a successful test of the Agni-5 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) armed with a Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRV) warhead. The flight test, called Mission Divyastra, occurred at Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Island in Odisha state.

The DRDO used several telemetry and radar stations to track the missile as it flew on its path. However, neither DRDO nor the Indian military say the range or the amount of time the missile flew, other than saying the “mission accomplished the designed parameters.”

Notice to Airmen India issued on March 7th for the Agni-5 ICBM test (Photo: X, formally Twitter/@detresfa_)

However, India issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) for an area that spans approximately 2,206 miles (3,550 km) from Abdul Kalam Island, into the Bay of Bengal, and deep into the Indian Ocean. The NOTAM began on March 11th and is set to expire on March 16th at 9:00 p.m. local time.

Agni-5 ICBM

The Agni-5 is India’s first domestically produced ICBM, and the DRDO began development of the missile in 2008. The missile is seen as a continuation of the Agni-3 Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) by sharing its first and second stage rocket engines while adding a third stage. The Agni-5 is a solid-state fuel, road-mobile ICBM capable of using either conventional or nuclear warheads and is launched from a sealed canister from a Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL). The TEL consists of a three-axle Volvo or Tatra truck pulling a seven-axle trailer to transport and launch the ICBM.

The missile uses both a laser ring, gyro-based inertial guidance system, and thrust vector controls on the three stages to adjust its flight trajectory. The ICBM has a range of about 3107 miles (5,000 km), enabling India to conduct strikes as far as Japan and Eastern Europe. India began to test the Agni-5 in 2012, with subsequent tests occurring in 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2018, with the missile cleared for operational use in 2019.

Analysis

The successful test of the Agni-5 allows India to further develop and refine the technologies to eventually have ICBMs equipped with MIRV warheads. Furthermore, the test also allows, from India’s perspective, to show that the country is capable of producing technologies similar to what China, the United States, and Russia currently employ. Another perspective is that the missile enables India to further develop its ability to bypass any future Ballistic Missile Defense systems China develops in the future. From China’s perspective, the successful test means that the country is closer to developing a technology that China would likely have little to no defense against.

An example of China’s concern is that it deployed a hydrologic survey vessel, the Xiang Yang Hong 01, to the Bay of Bengal in early March. The vessel was likely in the area to monitor both the March 11th Agni-5 test as well as the upcoming test of the K-4 Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile. Previously, China deployed another survey ship, the Yuan Wang 06, to the area in early November 2022 to monitor a planned missile test that the Indian government later cancelled.

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Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin the panda began Sino Talk in 2022 primarily to give an objective, unbiased view on China related topics as well as other issues related to the Indo-Pacific region. He spent several years studying and traveling throughout China and many countries in the Indo-Pacific region. In another life, the panda was also a U.S. Marine intelligence analyst who enjoyed bamboo MREs and drinking bourbon and soju. Indo-Pacific Division Desk Chief for Atlas News.
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