The configuration of Agni-V, India’s long-range nuclear weapons capable ballistic missile, is set to be changed to make the 5,000-km weapon system deadlier and capable of attacking multiple targets.
The modification is to enable fitting Agni-V with Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs), V.K. Saraswat, Director-General of the Defence Research and Development Organisation and Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister, told The Hindu . Another test in the present configuration of the three-stage missile would be conducted later this year.
Besides imparting canister-launch capability, Agni-V would be equipped with MIRVs. “Work on that is going on and it is at design stage.”
The resounding success of the maiden flight test of Agni-V in April 2012 catapulted India into a select league of nations having the technological prowess to develop Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles, he said. The Agni series will form the bulwark of land version of India’s nuclear deterrence triad.
Meanwhile, the reactor on board the indigenously-built nuclear powered submarine, INS Arihant, is expected to go critical in a few weeks. The powering of the system should happen in a week or two, Dr. Saraswat said.
(Once that happens, the 80-MWt (thermal) reactor would be in a position to deliver power to the platform and sea trials of Arihant would begin subsequently when the submarine is expected to move at the designed speed, go to the diving depth, attain maximum speed and perform all safety and emergency operations).
Referring to the home-grown Ballistic Missile Defence programme, he said the next interceptor missile test to be conducted at a higher altitude of 100-150 km in July would be the most important one. “We have developed a new interceptor missile for it.”
Another crucial DRDO missile test this year would be a “repeat launch” of ‘Nirbhay’. During the maiden trial of the subsonic cruise missile, the flight had to be terminated midway after it strayed from its trajectory. Dr. Saraswat attributed the problem to a manufacturing defect in the navigation sensor. Flight tests of air-to-air Astra and anti-tank Nag missiles would be also conducted.