Agni Missile – Proud of India

The Agni missile is a family of medium to intercontinental range ballistic missiles developed by India. The Agni series of ballistic missiles was developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme of the Defence Research and Development Organisation of India.The Agni missile family consists of three deployed variants.

The Agni-I, Agni-II and Agni-III are in service with the Indian Army. Agni-IV, the fourth in the Agni series of missiles, has completed all trials successfully by January 2014. Agni Missiles are long range, nuclear weapons capable surface to surface ballistic missile. The first missile of the series, Agni-I was developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program and tested in 1989. After its success, Agni missile program was separated from the IGMDP upon realizing its strategic importance. It was designated as a special program in India’s defence budget and provided adequate funds for subsequent development. As of 2008, the Agni missile family comprises three deployed variants while two more variants are under testing



Agni-1 was developed by advanced systems laboratory (ASL), the premier missile development laboratory of Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) in collaboration with Defence Research Development Laboratory (DRDL) and Research Centre Imarat (RCI) and integrated by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL). Agni-I was first tested at the Interim Test Range in Chandipur in 1989, and is capable of carrying a conventional payload of 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) or a nuclear warhead. Agni-I is a single stage, solid fuel, road and rail mobile, medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM). It is propelled by solid fuel. Maneuvering RV body-lift aerodynamics give it the ability to correct trajectory errors and reduce thermal stresses. The MRV has a velocity correction package to correct launch trajectory variances. The 15 metre tall Agni-1 missile, weighing about 12 tonnes, is capable of carrying both conventional as well as nuclear warheads of 1,000 kg. Calculations suggest a distance of 1500 km can, theoretically, be reached if the missile were to be made of composites & carrying a lesser mass of payload.


The Agni II is designed to hit targets from 2,000 to 2,500 km and can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads weighing up to 1,000 kg. Agni-II with a range of 2,000–2,500 km is 20 metres long, has a diameter of one metre, and weighs around 18 tonnes. Agni – II uses solid propellant in both of its two stages.  The 2000 km range nuclear weapon capable missile, already inducted into country’s arsenal, was successfully launched as a training exercise by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) on 9 August 2012.  India on 7 April 2013 conducted its latest test of its nuclear capable Agni-II strategic ballistic missile from a missile testing range in Odisha. The test was conducted from Wheeler’s Island in Bhadrak district, by army personnel as part of a training exercise.



Agni III uses solid propellant in both stages. Agni-III was first tested on 9 July 2006 from Wheeler Island off the coast of the eastern state of Orissa. Agni-III was tested three times. Agni-III has a range of 3,500 km and can take a warhead of 1.5 tonnes. The missile’s circular error probable(CEP) lies in the range of 40 meters.


Agni-IV was earlier known as Agni II prime. Agni-IV was first tested on 15 November 2011 and 19 September 2012 from Wheeler Island off the coast of the eastern state of Orissa for its full range of 4,000 km. With a range of 3,000–4,000 km, Agni-IV bridges the gap between Agni II and Agni III. It was again successfully test fired on 20 January 2014. Agni IV can take a warhead of 1 tonne. It is designed to increase the kill efficiency along with a higher range performance. Agni IV is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies that include indigenously developed ring laser gyro and composite rocket motor. It is a two-stage missile powered by solid propellant. Its length is 20 meters and launches weight 17 tonnes. It can be fired from a road mobile launcher. The Defense Research and Development Organization suggested during the development of the Agni-4 that the goal was to have a range of 5,000 km. Still, the listed operational range of 3,500-4,000 km allows it to strike targets in nearly all of China, including Beijing and Shanghai, if launched from northern India. It has also been flight tested at 3,000 km in December 2014, establishing its minimum range. The Agni-4 is road mobile and carried by a truck TEL, unlike the Agni-3, which is primarily rail-mobile. The missile uses a combination of a ring laser gyro-based inertial navigation system and a redundant micro inertial navigation system for guidance giving it double digit CEP. On 2 Janaury 2017, India successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable strategic ballistic missile Agni-IV with a strike range of 4000 km as part of a user trial from a test range off Odisha coast.  Supported by a mobile launcher, the surface-to-surface missile was flight tested from launch complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Dr Abdul Kalam Island, formerly known as Wheeler Island.

Agni V

Agni-V is a solid fueled intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India. Agni-V was first test fired on 19 April 2012 from Wheeler Island off the coast of Orissa, the test was successful. The 17.5-metre-long Agni-V would be a canister launch missile system so as to ensure that it has the requisite operational flexibility and can be swiftly transported and fired from anywhere. Agni-V weighs around 49 tonnes; one tonne more than Agni III and a much longer range. The second test launch of Agni-V was successfully done on 15 September 2013 from Wheeler Island. In January 2015, the canisterized version was successfully tested from Wheeler Island.


Agni-VI will be a four-stage intercontinental ballistic missile, which is in the hardware development phase, after its design phase was completed. Agni-VI is expected to have multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle as well as Maneuverable reentry vehicle (MaRV). And these maneuverable warheads will give Agni VI an extended range exact figure of which is currently classified. It will be taller than its predecessor AgniV, and is expected to be flight tested by 2017.The government of India is yet to approve the project, although DRDO has completed all calculations and started the engineering work. Agni-VI missile is likely to carry up to 10 MIRV warheads and will have a strike range of 8,000 km to 12,000 km.

Manoeuvring re-entry vehicle
The Agni’s manoeuvring re-entry vehicle features an attitude control system and aerodynamic fins. The 4m-long re-entry vehicle consists of five sections, with each section consisting of a two-layer composite structure. The MRV supports a range of payloads in different configurations.

Navigation and control
The Agni series utilises a strap-down inertial navigation system (INS) for flight control and navigation. These missiles incorporate indigenously developed inertial sensors. The Agni-II’s missile control system uses an MIL-STD-1553 data bus for all on-board communication and control device interconnection. The system integrates the INS, flight control computer, actuators and sensors. Navigation and guidance is provided by an advanced ground-based beacon system that uses the time delay of arrival (TDOA) concept. The TDOA continuously provides updates on missile flight position and speed. The Agni-IV is guided by a Ring Laser Gyro based INS, Micro Navigation System and Digital Controller System.

The Agni-I is propelled by a single-stage engine powered by solid fuel. The Agni-II is powered by a two-and-half-stage solid propellant engine, while the Agni-III and Agni-IV are powered by a two-stage solid propellant engine.

Missile Project Type Warhead Payload (kg) Range (km) Dimension (m) Fuel/Stages Weight (kg) In service CEP (m)
Agni-I IGMDP Strategic Nuclear, HE, penetration, sub-munitions, FAE 1,000 700–1,250 15X1 Single stage solid 12,000 2002 25
Agni-II IGMDP Strategic Nuclear, HE, penetration, sub-munitions, FAE 750–1,000 2,000–3,500 20X1 Two and Half stage solid 16,000 1999 30
Agni-III IGMDP Strategic Nuclear, HE, penetration, sub-munitions, FAE 2,000–2,500 3,500–5,000 17X2 Two stage solid 44,000
22,000 (latest version)
2011 40
Agni-IV Agni-IV Strategic Nuclear, HE, penetration, sub-munitions, FAE 800–1,000 3,000–4,000 20X1 Two stage solid 17,000 2014
Agni-V Agni-V Strategic Nuclear, HE, penetration, sub-munitions, FAE 1,500 (3–10 MIRV) 5,500–8,000 17X2 Three Stage solid 50,000 Tested <10 m[55]
Agni-VI Agni-VI Strategic Nuclear, HE, penetration, sub-munitions, FAE 1,000 (10 MIRV) 8,000-10,000 40X1.1 Three Stage solid 55,000 Under development


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17 thoughts on “Agni Missile – Proud of India”

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