Agni V vs China’s Hypersonic Missile
Nov 20, 2021
Agni V vs China’s Hypersonic Missile
Q Why is it in News ?
A Though inducted over three years ago, India’s foremost Agni 5 ballistic missile was tested for the first time after reports that China had tested a new hypersonic missile.
Q What is the Agni 5 missile?
- Agni 5 is India’s long-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile, which can hit a target with a precision that is 5,000 km
- The nuclear-capable missile is India’s contender for the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Officially an ICBM needs a missile to have a range of at least 5,500 km.
- Its range puts almost the entire China within the missile’s target range.
- Though the government has claimed that it has a maximum range of around 5,000 km, several reports suggest that it can hit targets as distant as 8,000 km.
- The nuclear capable missile can carry a warhead of around 1,500 kg and has a launch weight of 50,000 kg, making it one of the most potent missiles in the country.
Q What is History of Agni Missiles ?
- India began testing the Agni series of missiles in 1989 with the first test for Agni 1, an Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile, with a range of around 1,000 km.
- At that time only the US, the erstwhile Soviet Union, China, France and Israel, had IRBM technology.
- Since then, DRDO labs have continued to work on it, bringing the latest available Agni 5 to its present capability.
- In addition to the IRBM-capable nations, only North Korea and the UK have ICBM technology at the moment.
Q Why is it important for India?
- The success of AGNI missiles is in line with India’s stated policy to have ‘credible minimum deterrence’ that underpins the commitment to ‘No First Use’.
- What makes Agni 5 agile is that it is a “canisterised” missile. It means that the missile can be launched from road and rail platforms, making it easier for it to be deployed and launched at a quicker pace.
- The canisterisation also gives the missile a longer shelf life, protecting it from the harsher climatic conditions.
- While India is among the handful of nations with ICBM capability.
- The next generation of the missile, Agni VI, under development, is expected to have a range of around 8,000 km.
Q What is a Hypersonic Glide Vehicle that China tested?
- HGV is nuclear capable missile, which circled the earth before moving towards its target, missing it by two dozen miles.
- It is launched by a rocket which moves in the Earth’s lower orbit, at more than five times to 25 times the speed of sound.
- The vehicle is capable of carrying nuclear payloads, which gives the launching country the strategic capacity to attack almost any target across the world.
Q How is HGV different from an ICBM?
- A hypersonic glide vehicle orbits the earth at a lower height, and is manoeuvrable as compared to ICBM.
- The ability to change track or target, mid-trajectory, along with the speed, makes them tougher to track and defend against.
- The manoeuvrability provides them in-flight updates to attack a different target than originally planned.
- They possess ability to fly at unpredictable trajectories, these missiles will hold extremely large areas at risk throughout much of their flights.
Q Which countries have hypersonic technology?
- Apart from China, the US and Russia are working on the technology.
- France and India are working together for gaining the capability.
Q What are Concerns about China developing such technology ?
- China might have left the US behind in hypersonic capability.
- It is being perceived as a Sputnik moment (first Russian space mission widely envied by the US).
- A hypersonic attack could occur with very little warning time. The unpredictable trajectory would give them an advantage.
Another concern: Increasing Proliferation
- Globally the main concern is that once the technology is successfully established by even one country, it would lead to a larger race for the capability and its eventual proliferation.
- The more that hypersonic missiles proliferate into the hands of additional nations, the more paths develop for crises.