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  • Context (IE | TH | HT | PIB | IE | IE): India declared the successful test of the indigenously developed Agni-5 missile on Monday. The test was named Mission Divyastra.
  • The missile can carry multiple warheads, targeting multiple locations at the same time.
  • The test was carried out from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Island, off the coast of Odisha, which hosts India’s integrated missile test range.
  • The project was steered by a woman scientist of DRDO, and it involved other women scientists too.

Agni missiles

  • Agni missiles are the mainland-based delivery systems for India’s nuclear weapons.
  • The initial Agni missiles were created in the 1990s and entered armed forces deployment in the mid-2000s.
  • Ranging from Agni-1 to Agni-IV, these missiles cover distances between 700 to 3,500 km and carry single payloads weighing 12 to 40 kilotons.
  • Agni-5, the latest version with MIRV technology, surpasses 5,000 km in range and could potentially reach the intercontinental range of 5,500 km and beyond.
  • The next generation Agni-6 missile is currently under development.

Agni-5 missiles

  • In 2007, India declared the development of Agni V.
  • Agni-5 missiles are long-range missiles (5,000 km) created by DRDO.
  • It uses a three-stage solid fuelled engine.
  • It is capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
  • It is aimed mainly at thwarting China’s challenge.
  • The latest Agni variant features MIRV (Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle) technology.

    Agni-5 missile

MIRV technology

  • The MIRV can target multiple targets that can be hundreds of kilometers apart with a single missile.
  • Warheads on MIRVed missiles can be released from the missile at different speeds and in different directions.
  • As of now, the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom are known to have MIRV-equipped missiles. India has now joined the club.
  • Pakistan too has claimed to have tested an MIRV-equipped missile called Ababeel, first in 2017 and then in 2023.
  • MIRV-equipped missiles have never been used so far in any conflict situation.

Advantages of MIRV technology

  • Prevent an imbalance in land-based ballistic missile forces, as India has a limited number of missiles targeting Chinese cities.
  • Ensure India doesn’t lag too far behind in establishing a credible sea-based nuclear deterrent, given China’s more advanced program for nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).
  • MIRVs has the ability to penetrate missile defence systems. So it is seen as a hedge against the potential deployment of a ballistic missile defence system by China in the future.
  • With its ability to inflict severe damage in a retaliatory strike it can act as a powerful deterrent to potential adversaries.

Agni P

  • They are modernised versions of the short-range Agni-1 and Agni-2 variety.
  • It is a canisterised missile with a range capability between 1,000 and 2,000 km. This 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.

Missile defense system

  • It is a network of technologies designed for various tasks.
  • These tasks include detecting, tracking, intercepting, and destroying incoming missiles.
  • The system deploys advanced radars, communication systems, and interceptor missiles.
  • Its primary purpose is to provide a reliable safeguard against conventional missile threats.
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