NEW DELHI — India’s Defense Research Development Organization
(DRDO) plans to test its 5,000-kilometer (3,100-mile)
range Agni-V ballistic missile in a year’s time, following the third
successful trial of the 3,500-kilometer range Agni-3 on Feb. 7.
Agni-5 is in the subsystem testing phase, according to DRDO
chief V.K. Saraswat, scientific advisor to the defense minister.
Agni-3 has an all-composite structure, which will be
gradually used in the Agni-5. “The building blocks are in
a mature stage today. Technology has grown from metallic
rocket motors to composite rocket motors applicable to
Agni-3 and beyond,” Saraswat said.
Two years ago, DRDO developed and tested a large rocket
motor with a carbon filament-wound composite casing.
“This is a major breakthrough because it provides the key
technology for going into longer missions [for instance, the
Agni-5 missile] with lighter missiles,” said Avinash Chander,
director of DRDO’s advanced systems laboratory. “With this
development of motor casing made of composites, we will
practically have no metal in our missiles.”
Agni-5 will cannisterized. This is the first time multiple sensors
have been used for guiding the missile, Chander said.
“We have a program to build 5,000-plus kilometer class
range,” Saraswat added. “We feel 5,500 kilometers will be
adequate for India’s strategic requirements. Our threat mitigation
demands a missile of this capability.”
Agni-5 is a derivative of Agni-3. It has the same diameter,
but is five meters longer than the 17-meter long Agni-3. Its
first stage is the same, but it will feature a modified second
stage and third stage — all using solid propellants.
Challenges do exist. “We need to take care of re-entry,
changes in payload and extra heating — all of which are not
insurmountable,” Saraswat said.
- Neelam Mathews (firstname.lastname@example.org)