India successfully tests n-capable Agni II missile

May 19th, 2010  

Topic: India successfully tests n-capable Agni II missile

India successfully tests n-capable Agni II missile

Agni (Sanskrit: अग्नि fire, an Indo-European cognate of Latin ignis and English ignite), is a strategic ballistic missile. The Agni missile family is envisaged to be the mainstay of the Indian missile-based strategic nuclear deterrence. The Agni-II is a medium range ballistic missile (MRBM) with two solid fuel stages and a Post Boost Vehicle (PBV) integrated into the missile's Re-entry Vehicle (RV). The Agni's manoeuvring RV is made of a carbon-carbon composite material that is light and able to sustain high thermal stresses of re-entry, in a variety of trajectories. The Agni-IIIA is a more advanced version of Agni-II, albeit with more sophisticated and lighter materials, yielding a better range and operating regime. The first test of Agni-IIIA is expected in the year 2009. Agni-II, developed as part of medium and long range Agni series of missile systems, has already been inducted into the Armed Forces. On May 17 2010,the trial was conducted with a special strategic command force (SSC) of nuclear-capable Agni-II ballistic missile, with a range of 2000 kilometers from the Wheelers Island off Orissa coast thus making Agni-II missile operational by army.

Preface: Evolving Indian Security Environment

During the 1990s, India's security situation gradually worsened with security challenges from China, blatant Chinese nuclear and missiles proliferation to Pakistan, and mutual proliferation between Pakistan and North Korea. The strategic redline was crossed in 1998 when Pakistan tested nuclear capable Ghauri missile, that could threaten India's heartland. The international complicity in allowing nuclear proliferation by proxy into the hands of Pakistan and ability to deliver it over long ranges, obtained by trading in black-market North Korean No-Dong missiles, in return for Pakistani nuclear design and enrichment equipment by the Walmart of nuclear and missile black-market run by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan and the Pakistani Military. This and other international security developments forced India to go fully nuclear, resulting in the Pokhran-II (POK-II) nuclear test series and its weaponization by developing the Agni family of ballistic missiles that could deliver a variety of payloads over long ranges.

Quick deployment of the Agni-II was possible, by building on the earlier Agni-TD program that provided proven critical technologies and designs required for long range ballistic missiles. Thus when the decision was made to build the Agni weapon system, some quick optimization and ruggedization was done to the basic '1980 vintage' design, including a solid fuelled second stage. Further the solid fuel chemistry, RV and avionics were brought up to state-of-the-art levels. As the Pokhran-II (PoK-II) nuclear test proved a family of more powerful and lighter nuclear weapons, the 200 KT thermonuclear weapon is far lighter compared to 1000 kg earlier budgeted for the 200 KT boosted nuclear weapon. Thus a high yield weapon configuration now assumes a payload of 500 kg, including weapon and RV. However, in the interest of rapid development the basic design that was earlier developed continued to be used and keeping the future option open, for more optimized missile design and lighter payload. The Agni-II missile will be used by 555th Missile Group of the Indian Army.


The Agni-II was first tested on 11 April 1999 at 9:47 a.m. IST (Indian Standard Time), from a converted rail carriage, with a carriage roof that slides open to allow the missile to be raised to the vertical for launch by two large hydraulic pistons. The launch process is controlled from a separate railcar. The missile was launched from the IC-4 pad at Wheeler Island, Balasore. Splash down was 2000 2100 km. down range in the Bay of Bengal, on a trajectory designed to simulate a range of 2800 3000 km. The Agni-II missile can also be launched from a road TEL vehicle, as demonstrated in the second test flight on 17 January 2001, at 10:01 a.m. IST (Indian Standard Time) to a range of 2100 km. This missile has a theoretical maximum range of some 3000 km with a 1000 kg payload (conventional or strategic).

Tested to range of over 2000 km, the Agni-II has an all-solid propellant system. After the January 17th test, the missile was cleared for production and it is possible that a production capacity (under-utilised at present) exists for 12 Agni-II missiles per year. On the January 17th test, the missile was alleged to have covered a range of over 2100 km with a 700 kg warhead. The Agni-II is designed to be launched from a rail-mobile launcher,it is also available in road-mobile configuration. This lends flexibility and reduces vulnerability to first strike.

The Agni-II is always be in a ready-to-fire mode and can be launched within 15 minutes as compared to almost half a day of preparation for the previous generation Agni-TD. In May 2001, and again in July 2001, the then-incumbent Defence Minister Jaswant Singh informed the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) that the Agni-II missile is operational, limited production had begun and induction being planned during 2001-2002. On 14 March 2002, Defence Minister George Fernandes informed Indian Parliament that the Agni-II has entered the production phase and is under induction. Agni-II is made by BDL in Hyderabad, with a production capacity of 18 missiles/year and costs about Rs.35 crore [34] for each missile. On 19 May 2009, user trial of Agni-II was undertaken by Indian Army, while DRDO scientists provided required logistical support. The Agni-II missile was tested at 10.06 IST from a defence base in Orissa.The missile was test fired from launch pad-4 from Integrated Test Range. Integrated Test Range is the missile testing facility on the Wheeler Island, near Dhamara in the district of Bhadrak. Initially it was announced by Indian media that India has successfully tested the nuclear capable Agni-II missile from a defence base in Orissa. According to official sources, the aim of the test was to give the Indian Army confidence to fire the missile on its own. The May 2009 test however ended in failure of the Agni II when the second stage failed to operate correctly and the missile started to veer wildly off course. In a subsequent re-test at night time on Nov 2009, the missile once again failed completely at the second stage, this time dropping directly into the sea. On May 17 2010, the missile was flight-tested successfully from Wheeler Island off the Orissa coast. The flight lasted 660 seconds, with the missile achieving its full range, after which it splashed into the sea at the predesignated target. A new navigation system which provides better accuracy as well as the capability, to maneuver and defeat anti-ballistic missiles was tested during the trial. This was a training trial by the Indian Army.

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