The consecutive success of 5000-km range Agni-V missile has paved way for India to go for longer range inter-continental nuclear capable ballistic missiles to bolster its fire power and strengthen its position among the Asian countries.
Defence sources said next missile in the country’s long range weapon series is ‘Surya’ which was being developed secretly under the code name Agni-VI.
The missile will have a highest strike range of 10,000 km depending on the payload. But as of now, it is being developed for a range of 6000-km.
The DRDO, which has successfully developed all Agni series of missiles along with some submarine-launched nuclear capable missiles making the country at par with a few such developed countries like the US, UK, France, China and Russia, is ready to deliver the missile in next three years.
A scientist, associated with the Agni-VI project, said the new generation missile was expected to be more bulky than the Agni-V, but it would be road mobile so that it can be easily carried to any place and deployed as and when required.
The length of the three-stage missile would be around 17 metres and diameter about 2.5 metre which would help storing different sizes of nuclear Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Warheads (MIRVs). The missile’s launch weight would be 60 to 70 tonne.
The new missile will also carry more number of warheads than any other version. “While Agni-V can carry up to three nuclear warheads, the next missile in the series can carry up to 10 nuclear warheads, capable of hitting multiple targets,” he said.
Successful induction of Agni-V will allow India to catch up with China’s nuclear strike capacity in next few years since its range is expected to be long enough to target major Chinese cities like Shanghai, Beijing and northern most Habin.
Though Agni-V had been primarily designed to bolster India’s ‘active credible deterrence posture’ against China, its expanding nuclear and missile arsenal has left many countries worried. The Chinese DF-31A ICBM, with a strike range of 11,000 km, can target any location in the continental US.
Defence experts feel even as India has enhanced its deterrence capabilities against China with Agni-V missile, it needs to have longer range missiles to create a kind of ‘fear psychosis’ among the enemies and face the emerging security concerns from the neighbouring countries.
DRDO chief Avinash Chander said with the technology, the scientists had mustered and achieved success with Agni-V, it is very much possible to have longer range missiles.
“But we are now focusing on fast induction of Agni-V missile and multiple warhead technologies. The Agni-VI missile is yet to have the Government sanction,” he said.