India will soon conduct another test of its most formidable strategic missile, the over 5,000-km Agni-V, even as work is still in progress to develop multiple-warhead capability for ballistic missiles.
The “user-trial in full operational configuration” of Agni-V missile, which carries a single1.5-tonne warhead, will be conducted by the tri-Service Strategic Forces Command in October.
It will be the first user-trial of the three-stage intercontinental ballistic missile, which is gradually being inducted into SFC, since the military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh erupted in April-May last year. The operational deployment of the over 50-tonne Agni-V will enhance the deterrence posture against China, which has missiles like the Dong Feng-41 (12,000-15,000-km) that can hit any Indian city. China has also recently gone in for a huge expansion in new missile silo fields for launching nuclear-tipped ICBMs.
Agni-V, which will bring even the northernmost part of China within its strike envelope, is operationally better than the earlier Agni variants because it is a canister-launch missile to ensure lesser maintenance as well as swifter transportation and firing. The Agni-V test will come soon after a new-generation two-stage missile called Agni-Prime, with a strike range of 1,500-km, was tested on June 28.
The Agni-Prime, also a canister-launch missile, will eventually replace the Agni-I (700-km) missiles in the arsenal of the SFC, which also has the Prithvi-II (350-km), Agni-II (2,000-km) and Agni-III (3,000-km) missile units.