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Agni-V | Stunning Agni Missiles of India [2023]

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Agni-V is India’s nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). This article will dive into the development of Agni Missiles in India, particularly the Agni-V missiles. A brief timeline of Agni-V development along with a map showing the Abdul Kalam Island that houses the Missile Launch facilities of India. 

The Agni V is a long-range, nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching targets up to 5,000 km away. It features an advanced guidance system that allows it to hit its targets with pinpoint accuracy, as well as a more powerful engine that reduces launch time. The Agni V also comes equipped with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV), which allows it to carry up to five warheads at once.

In addition, the Agni V carries a sophisticated heat shield that helps protect its payload from extreme temperatures during flight and reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.


The Nuclear capable Agni-V is an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a coverage range of over 5,000 km. Agni-V is an evolution of the Agni-III IRBM, featuring similar first and second-stage motors with an added third stage. India first tested the solid-fuelled Agni-V missile in 2012, conducting subsequent tests in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2020. Unlike earlier missiles of India, the Agni-V launches from a sealed canister on a road-mobile launcher, compressing the time needed to prepare for launch.

India’s missile arsenal serves many purposes in its Defense strategy. Foremost, it supports India’s nuclear deterrent posture against its main rivals Pakistan and China. India has a policy of “No First Use”  while maintaining credible minimum deterrence. The latter requirement has pushed India to develop longer-range missiles and to diversify its delivery platforms beyond mobile land-based missiles. To this end, India is developing ship- and sub-launched ballistic missiles and has collaborated with Russia on cruise missile development.

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abdul kalam island

Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP)

The Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) was an Indian government initiative to develop a comprehensive range of missiles. It was conceived by Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam with the objective of developing a range of missiles to strengthen India’s defence capabilities in terms of nuclear deterrence and conventional warfare capability. 

Launched in 1983 and spearheaded by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the IGMDP was designed to build an entire range of ballistic and cruise missiles, from short-range to long-range missiles. This included surface-to-surface, air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, as well as anti-tank guided weapons.

The project involved 7 key DRDO laboratories that were responsible for designing, testing and producing each missile system. Ultimately, five main missile systems were developed under the IGMDP – Prithvi, Akash, Trishul, Nag and Agni – which have become the backbone of India’s missile defence system today.

indian missiles

Missile NameClassRangeStatus
Agni-ISRBM700 -1,200 kmOperational
Agni-IlMRBM2,000 - 3,500 kmOperational
Agni-IllIRBM3,000 - 5,000 kmOperational
Agni-IVIRBM3,500-4,000 kmIn development
Agni-VICBM5,000 - 8,000 kmIn development
BrahMosCruise Missile300 - 500 kmOperational
DhanushSRBM250 - 400 kmOperational
ExocetASCM40 -180 kmOperational
NirbhayCruise Missile800 -1,000 kmIn development
PrahaarSRBM150 kmIn development
Prithvi-ISRBM150 kmObsolete
Prithvi-llSRBM350 kmOperational
Sagarika/ShauryaSLBM700 km / 3,500 kmIn development
  • With Agni-V, India is now the sixth country in the world to have an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), others are ChinaUSRussiaBritain and France. 
  • Agni-V functions in a way that after reaching the peak of its trajectory, the Missile will turn towards Earth and will increase speed due to the attraction of the Earth’s gravitational pull before hitting its target. 
  • The successful launch of the Agni-V surface-to-surface ballistic missile was done at the APJ Abdul Kalam Island in Odisha.

Agni-V at a Glance

ClassIntercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)
Length17.5 m
Diameter2 m
Launch weight50,000 kg
Payload1,650 kg
PropulsionThree-stage, solid propellant
Range5,000 – 8,000 km

Agni Missile series

The Indian Ballistic Missile defense system has been the cornerstone of India’s security policy since the late 1990s. The Agni missile series is a critical part of this system and has allowed India to become one of the leading nuclear powers in South Asia. The Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) is an integral component of this sophisticated defense network, as it provides India with long range deterrence capabilities.

The Agni missile series consists of five distinct models, each with its own unique characteristics and capabilities. All five missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads and have varying ranges depending on their payload capacity. The first in the series was tested in 1989, while more advanced versions such as Agni-V have been successfully tested over recent years.

Missile NameClassRange
Agni-ISRBM700 -1,200 km
Agni-IlMRBM2,000 – 3,500 km
Agni-IllIRBM3,000 – 5,000 km
Agni-IVIRBM3,500-4,000 km
Agni-VICBM5,000 – 8,000 km

Agni-V Development Timeline

  • India’s DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organisation) began developing the Agni-V missile in 2008. The DRDO’s Research Centre Imarat (RCI), Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), and Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) in Hyderabad collaborated in developing India’s ICBM, which evolved from the Agni-III project. 
  • Initially, DRDO referred to the missile as the Agni-III+ before renaming it as the Agni-V in 2010. 
  • Agni-V was first flight-tested on April 19, 2012, the missile was successfully launched from the Integrated Test Range in Odisha to a point in the Indian Ocean. The Agni-V travelled over 5,000 km, attaining a maximum altitude of 600 km. And hit the target with an accuracy of a few metres. 
  • DRDO by April 2012, constructed a ground test facility for the Agni-V’s canister-ejection system and transferred the production of a road-mobile launcher to industry. 
  • September 15, 2013, India test-launched the AGNI-V a second time, and it successfully flew 5,000 km from Odisha to a target in the Indian Ocean
  • The DRDO In mid-2014 conducted a final ground test of the Agni-V’s canister ejection system, and on January 31, 2015, conducted the first flight test of a canister-launched, road-mobile Agni-V. 
  • Agni-V was now production-ready and underwent another successful flight test on December 26, 2016
  • In 2018, DRDO and Strategic Forces Command (SFC) conducted joint user trials of the canister-launched Agni-V, and successfully launched the missile. 
  • India’s armed forces began inducting the Agni-V missiles into its arsenal in 2019. 
  • On 27 October 2021 India once again test-fired the recently inducted Agni-V, It is the first user launch of the Agni-V missile, which was last tested in 2018 before it got inducted into the Strategic Forces Command that looks after India’s nuclear arsenal.


Does India have Agni 5 missile?

Yes India’s armed forces began inducting the Agni-V missiles into its arsenal in 2019.

What is the Agni 5 range?

The Nuclear capable Agni-V is an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a coverage range of over 5,000 to 8,000 km.

Cruise Missile vs Ballistic Missile

Cruise missile and ballistic missiles are two of the most advanced weapons used by militaries around the world. Both missiles have unique capabilities that make them attractive to armed forces, but there are some key differences between them as well. A cruise missile is typically smaller than a ballistic missile and uses an engine powered by jet or turbo-prop propulsion to reach its target. It has a much longer range than traditional aircrafts, which allows it to strike distant targets without having to refuel or rearm mid-flight. Cruise missiles also have the advantage of being able to fly at low altitudes, making them harder for radar systems to detect.

On the other hand, a ballistic missile is designed with a rocket booster that propels it into space before coming back down on its initial target.

Cruise MissileBallistic Missile
Follows a straight line of motion.Gravity, air resistance, and the Coriolis Force all play a role in how its projectile moves and where it goes.
In this case, the flight path is inside the Earth’s atmosphere.Exit and re-enter the earth’s atmosphere.
Missiles with a short range (range up to 1000 km)Long-distance missiles (300 km to 12,000 km)
E.g., BrahMos, e.g., Prithvi I, Prithvi II, Agni I, Agni II, and Dhanush missiles.
Cruise Missile vs Ballistic Missile

Cruise Missiles

  • cruise missile either finds its target or has a pre-programmed target.
  • It navigates with the use of a guidance system, such as inertial or beyond visual range satellite GPS navigation, and includes a payload and aircraft propulsion system.
  • Cruise missiles, which can move at subsonic, supersonic, and hypersonic speedscan be launched from land, sea, or air for land attacks and anti-shipping missions.
  • They are designed to carry big payloads with excellent precision and stay relatively close to the earth’s surface, making them difficult to detect by anti-missile systems.

In conclusion, the Agni 5 missile is an important and formidable weapon of the Indian military. It has a substantial range, advanced technology, and can carry multiple warheads. This allows it to reach targets with precision and accuracy, making it a powerful deterrent against potential threats. The development of this missile was an impressive feat of engineering, and its introduction into the Indian arsenal serves as the cornerstone of our defence strategy.

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