New Delhi: After the successful test-launch of the indigenously developed intercontinental surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile ‘Agni-5’ from the Wheeler Island off Odisha coast on Monday, the scientists at the DRDO have begun work for a more lethal Agni-VI missile.
According to reports, the soon-to-be-launched Agni-VI missile will be armed with "manoeuvring warheads or intelligent re-entry vehicles" to defeat enemy defence systems or MIRVs (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles).
An MIRV payload technically means that a single Agni-VI will be capable of carrying several nuclear warheads, each programmed to hit different targets.
In between, the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) is also expected to conducts user-trials of the 4,000-km Agni-IV missile, which has been designed with China in mind, in the first week of January.
Apart from the shorter-range 'Prithvi' and 'Dhanush' missiles, the SFC has so far inducted the Agni-I (700km), Agni-II (2,000km) and Agni-III (3,000km) missiles till now.
India's most formidable missile Agni-5, with a range of over 5,000-km, is now ready for user trials by the military after it underwent its fourth and final test-firing from the integrated test range off the Odisha coast yesterday.
The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Agni-V, dubbed a "game-changer" in strategic deterrence because it brings the whole of China and much more within its strike envelope, was fired from its canister on a launcher truck just after 11 am.
Powered by three-stage rocket motors, the 50-tonne missile tore into space to a height of 500 km before following its predetermined flight-path to the "splash point" in southern Indian Ocean 20 minutes later.
President Pranab Mukherjee and PM Modi had congratulated the DRDO team after the missile's successful test-launch.
Among the missiles of Agni series, the latest Agni-V is the most advanced having some new technologies incorporated with it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine, the sources said.
Named after one of the five elements of nature, Agni series are long range, surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missiles. The first missile of the series, Agni-I was developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program and tested in 1989.