India’s 1st ‘indigenous Missile’ Hits Target; Experts Explain How The Agni And Prithvi Missiles Help The Indian Rocket Force

Story Highlights
  • The first two versions of this short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) are single-stage, dual-engine, and liquid-fueled vehicles.
  • The Prithvi-2 is a liquid-fueled, single-stage missile with a range of 250 kilometres (160 miles) and a maximum warhead mounting capacity of 500 pounds.

The missile complied with all operational and technical requirements, according to the Defence Ministry.

The short-range ballistic missile Prithvi-2 was tested-fired on June 15 at roughly 7.30 p.m. from an Integrated Test Center in Chandipur, Odisha, according to a statement from the Ministry.

Prior to this, on February 21, 2018, Prithvi-II was successfully launched from Chandipur’s ITR. Later, on November 20, 2019, two subsequent Prithvi-II trials from the same base were completed.

The Prithvi missile is a tried-and-true weapon that can attack targets with extreme precision. The launch was a success, validating the missile’s technical and operational features even in the most recent test.

The Strategic Forces Command (SFC) introduced this missile in 2003 to expand the nation’s nuclear stockpile. It is noteworthy because it is the first missile made in India as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program.

The programme was initiated by the Ministry of Defense to conduct in-depth research and create nuclear-capable missiles.

These tests are carried out by randomly selecting missiles from India’s entire industrial and military stockpile. India’s development and emergency readiness are evaluated in the case of a circumstance that resembles a war.

Similar to what Lt Col JS Sodhi (Retd), Defence & Strategic Affairs Analyst said to the EurAsian Times, “Developing a missile is time and cost heavy and neither time nor money waste is desirable in regards to the security of the nation. Routine missile tests are required to check the efficacy and effectiveness of the weapon systems being developed so that in case of any mid-course corrections, the same can be carried out.”

The test was done not long after India tested its nuclear-capable Agni missile in a normal manner. The government had stated that the successful test “reaffirms India’s strategy of possessing a Credible Minimum Deterrence Capability” following the “regular user training” launch test of Agni-IV.

He stated that the late Chief of Defense Staff, General Bipin Rawat, “emphasised the need for India to develop a credible rocket force to not only balance or offset China’s capabilities in the same field but also to maintain the South Asian state’s leverage vis-à-vis the shifts taking place in the global security architecture.” First, he emphasised India’s desire to improve and develop its current and future missile capabilities.

Routine tests are also required, he continued, “given the complexity of missile production, to ensure that all potential snags are ironed out.”

Second, the timing of these tests coincides with China and Pakistan’s efforts to counterbalance and restrain India’s influence, territorial integrity, and leadership position in the Indo-Pacific. These efforts include strengthening their mutual collaboration.

“India is located in possibly the most difficult geographic neighbourhood, trapped between two assertive nuclear countries that attempt to nibble on its territory on several fronts,” McLain Gill told the EurAsian Times.

Given the difficulties of this security environment and the exponential growth of China’s military capabilities, India must keep enhancing its deterrence capabilities to show that, in the event of conflict, it can also cause harm that will be expensive for the opposing state. Therefore, given the current geopolitical circumstances, frequent tests and ongoing modernization efforts are quite crucial for India, he stressed.

The third point discusses India’s expanding role as a provider of security. The Prithvi and the Agni are two missiles that India independently developed.

Given this, McLain Gill stated that the successful tests serve as a significant development for other Indo-Pacific nations that are constantly attempting to improve and expand their military capabilities given the unfolding geopolitical dynamics. The tests also serve as a demonstration of India’s national security accomplishments.

“The recent sale of BrahMos to the Philippines and similar agreements that are anticipated to be reached with Indonesia and Vietnam fuel this trend even further. In order to underline its role as a dependable and effective security supplier throughout the Indo-Pacific and beyond, he noted, India will need to strengthen its technology capabilities and its indigenization process.

Prithvi Vs. Agni Missile

The Prithvi ballistic missile, created by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program, is the first indigenously-built ballistic missile.

The first two versions of this short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) are single-stage, dual-engine, and liquid-fueled vehicles. This missile’s development started in 1983, and on February 25, 1988, it was launched for the first time. The Prithvi missile comes in three variations.

Lt Col JS Sodhi (Retd) continued, “Prithvi being a nuclear-capable missile will have enough deterrence value for both Pakistan and China as the targets positioned in these two nations within Prithvi’s range may be easily targeted.”

Similarly, the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program was used by the DRDO to build the Agni series of ballistic missiles.

This series consists of missiles that can reach targets at short, medium, and long ranges. A year after the Prithvi missile, the Agni missile launched its initial flight in May 1989. It is a two-stage missile, with the first stage utilising the SLV-3 satellite launch vehicle’s first-stage solid-fuel booster motor.

The distance and payload capacity are the two main differences between Prithvi and Agni missiles, according to Lt Col JS Sodhi (Retd). Agni-V has a range of 5500–8000 km, compared to Prithvi’s 150–500 km. Prithvi and Agni each have a warhead weighing between 500 and 1000 kg.

Prithvi Missile Series

Prithvi missiles come in three different versions, each with a different range: Prithvi-I has a 150 km range, Prithvi-II has a 250 km range, and Prithvi-III has a 350 km range.

A surface-to-surface missile of the Prithvi I class can carry a warhead weighing up to 1,000 kilogrammes and has a range of 150 kilometres. It has a 10–50 m accuracy and can be launched utilising transporter erector launchers. In 1994, the Indian Army began using this class of Prithvi missile.

The missile’s engine, it appears, was adapted from the Soviet S-75 surface-to-air missile. After a successful flight test in 1993, the Army started user testing the Prithvi I in June 1994.

In 1996, India formally put the missile into service. India is believed to have tested the Prithvi in flight at least 16 times between 1988 and 1999. It is capable of hitting a quarter of Pakistan’s landmass, including Islamabad and the majority of other significant cities.

The Prithvi-2 is a liquid-fueled, single-stage missile with a range of 250 kilometres (160 miles) and a maximum warhead mounting capacity of 500 pounds.

However, rumours claim that the cargo capacity has increased to 500 to 1000 kilos and the range has been expanded to 350 kilometres. This missile is primarily used by the Indian Air Force.

The first test flight of the missile took place on January 27, 1996, and the last stages of development were finished in 2004. The missile includes features that make it an anti-ballistic missile decoy. The Prithvi-2 missile can target the enemy day or night, and it has the ability to carry nuclear weapons as well.

Testing for surface-to-surface missiles has been done. This type is capable of hitting nearly all of Pakistan’s major cities and military targets, as well as at least half of the country.

The ship-to-surface missile of the Prithvi III class has two stages and is also known by the codename Dhanush, which means “bow.” The first stage includes a 16 metric tonne thrust motor that is solid-fueled (157 kN). The second phase involves the use of liquid fuel. This model can carry a 1,000 kg payload and has a 350 km range.

The Dhanush system comprises of a stabilising platform and a missile. It is a Prithvi modification that has received seaworthiness certification. A hydraulically stabilised launch platform should be used to fire the missile. Naval surface ships have used the missile in numerous tests.

Prithvi III was initially tested in 2000 on the patrol ship of the Sukanya class, INS Subhadra. The initial flight test of the 250 km model was only partially successful.

The thorough operational testing was finished in 2004. An upgraded 350 km variant of the missile was successfully fired from the INS Rajput and was directed at a land-based target in December of the following year.

Agni Missile Series

A sixth missile version for the Agni series is currently being developed. The Agni-P, a more sophisticated version of the Agni Missile Class, is also in development.

A ballistic missile with a short- to medium-range, the Agni-I. The missile has a range of 700 to 800 kilometres and is capable of carrying a 1,000 kilogramme conventional payload or a nuclear warhead.

These are transported by rail and road and propelled by solid propellants. In March 2010, a nuclear-capable Agni-I was fired from Wheeler Island.

A medium-range ballistic missile with two solid-fuel stages is called the Agni-II. Most of China’s western, central, and southern provinces are within the missile’s striking range.

It is a 1,000 kilogramme payload, often a 150 kilogramme or 200 kilogramme nuclear bomb, road/rail transportable launch missile with a 40m CEP accuracy. Additionally, it can be fitted with common high-explosive bombs.

In July 2006, the Agni-III was launched from Wheeler Island, but it was unable to land. It underwent a successful test in April 2007. This test, in New Delhi’s opinion, proved India’s nuclear capability and deterrence because the missile is capable of hitting targets precisely more than 3000 kilometres distant.

The Agni-IV is a two-stage intermediate-range ballistic missile with nuclear weapons capability. From Wheeler Island, the missile underwent its first test in November 2011. It rose to 900 kilometres in the test’s altitude. It underwent another successful test in September 2012.

In January 2014, it reached a height of 850 kilometres during its third test. 20 metres long and 17 tonnes in weight, the Agni-IV. It can carry 800 kg in payload. The missile has a 4,000 km maximum range.

The only intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in India is still in development, called Agni-V. Defense specialists say Agni-reported V’s range of 5,500–5,800 kilometres could easily be expanded to at least 8,000 kilometres. Up to 10 MIRVs can be carried by the three-stage, solid-fueled missile.

The 17.5–20 metre long, 2.2–2.2 metre wide missile weighs 49,000–55,000 kilos when it is launched. Although there has been no official announcement on the kind of payload Agni-V would transport, all such weapons with other nations are nuclear-tipped.

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