Agni Prime Missile

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    In Context 

    • New generation nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni-P was successfully tested from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam island off the coast of Odisha.
    • This is the second test of the missile. The first test took place in June last.

    Agni Prime Missile

    • Agni-P is a two-stage canisterised solid propellant missile with dual redundant navigation and guidance system.
    • It has a range of up to 2000 km. 
    • It is a canisterised surface-to-surface ballistic missile. 
    • Canisterisation lessens the time required for launch & improves storage and mobility.
    • Improved parameters: It is a new generation advanced variant of the Agni class of missiles with improved parameters, including manoeuvring and accuracy. 
    • Fully made up of composite material.
    • Significance: Strengthen India’s credible deterrence capabilities, improved manoeuvring and accuracy, unlike earlier Agni missiles.

    About Missile Technology in India

    • Historical Background: 
      • Before Independence, several kingdoms in India were using rockets as part of their warfare technologies. 
        • Mysore ruler Hyder Ali started inducting iron-cased rockets in his army in the mid-18th century.
        • By the time Hyder’s son Tipu Sultan died, a company of rocketeers was attached to each brigade of his army, which has been estimated at around 5,000 rocket-carrying troops.
    • At the time of Independence: 
      • India did not have any indigenous missile capabilities. 
      • The government created the Special Weapon Development Team in 1958.
      • This was later expanded and called the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL).
      • In 1972, Project Devil, for the development of a medium-range Surface-to-Surface Missile was initiated. 
    • The development of components/systems for Project Devil formed the technology base for the future Integrated Guided Missiles Development Programme (IGMDP).
    • By 1982, DRDL was working on several missile technologies under the IGMDP.
    • India has been working on this for a few years and is just behind the US, Russia and China.
      • DRDO successfully tested a Hypersonic Technology Demonstrated Vehicle (HSTDV) in September 2020 and demonstrated its hypersonic air-breathing Scramjet technology.
    • India has developed its own cryogenic engine and demonstrated it in a 23-second flight.
      •  India will try to make a hypersonic cruise missile, using HSTDV.
        • Only Russia has proven its hypersonic missile capability so far, while China has demonstrated its HGV capacity.
        •  India is expected to be able to have a hypersonic weapons system within four years, with medium- to long-range capabilities.

    Conclusion

    • The US is leading in missile technology, and China is building up. 
      • China has given Pakistan the technology, but getting a technology and really using it, and thereafter evolving and adopting a policy is totally different.
    • India is also at a very advanced stage among the top three or four nations.
    • India is working on Agni VI and Agni VII, which should have a much longer range. 
    • Pinaka rocket systems have also been developed in close coordination with the user agencies

    Various Missiles of India 

    • India is considered among the top few nations when it comes to designing and developing missiles indigenously, although it is way behind the US, China and Russia in terms of range.
    • DRDO is “working on multiple varieties of missiles”.
    • Surface-Launched Systems are as follows : 
      • Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM): Nag has already been inducted into the services. 
        • Nag is the only “fire-and-forget ATGM meeting all-weather requirements for its range (around 20 km)”. 
        • Recently Heli-Nag was tested, which will be operated from helicopters and will be inducted by 2022.
        • There is also a Stand-off Anti-Tank (SANT) missile, with a range of over 10 km. 
          • It has a millimetre wave seeker, which enhances target detection in all weather conditions and  “man-portable ATGMs” are also available.
      • Surface to Air Missile: The short-range SAM system Akash has already been inducted into the Army and the Air Force. 
      • Medium-Range SAM: Production of MRSAM systems for the Navy is complete, and it is placing its order.
        •  The Jaisalmer-based 2204 Squadron of the Air Force became the first unit to get the MRSAM systems in September 2021.
    • Air-Launched Systems are as follows :
      • Air-to-air: Astra, India’s Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM), has been completely tested and is under induction. 
        • It has a range of around 100 km, and DRDO is trying to now induct it with more IAF platforms, including the domestically developed light combat aircraft Tejas. 
          • A long-range Astra is also being developed, for which initial tests have been conducted. 
            • The missile uses solid fuel ramjet technology, which enhances speed, and will have an indigenously-built seeker.
    • Air-to-ground: Rudram, a New Generation Anti-Radiation Missile (NGRAM), has cleared initial tests and “some more tests will be conducted soon.
      • It has a maximum range of around 200 km and it mainly targets communication, radar and surveillance systems of the adversary, and was tested from the Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jet last year. 
      • BrahMos, which India developed jointly with Russia, is already operational. 
        • It has a 300 km to 500 km range and is a short-range, ramjet-powered, single warhead, supersonic anti-ship or land-attack cruise missile.
      • A supersonic missile-assisted torpedo system was successfully launched. 
        • It “carried a torpedo and delivered it at a longer range” and will enhance Navy anti-submarine capability with a range of around 400 km.

    Other important missile systems of India 

    • The two most important are Agni and Prithvi, both being used by the Strategic Forces Command.
      • Agni class of missiles are the mainstay of India’s nuclear launch capability, 
      • Prithvi, although a short-range surface-to-surface missile with a 350 km range, has strategic uses. 
        • A modified anti-ballistic missile named Prithvi Defence Vehicle Mk 2 was used to hit a low-orbit satellite. 
          • It put India only behind the US, Russia and China in this capability.

    Source: TH