Agni-6 :-The Indian ICBM

Agni-VI is an intercontinental ballistic missile under development by the DRDO for the use of the Indian Armed Forces. Agni-VI will be a four-stage intercontinental ballistic missile.  Agni-6 will carry a massive three-tonne warhead, thrice the weight of the one-tonne warhead that Agni missiles have carried so far. This will allow each Agni-6 missile to launch several nuclear warheads -Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Warheads (MIRVs) – with each warhead striking a different target. Each warhead – called Maneuverable Reentry Vehicle (MARV) – performs evasive maneuvers while hurtling down towards its target, confusing enemy air defence missiles that are trying to destroy them mid-air. 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 Agni V, and is expected to be flight tested by 2017.  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.

Guidance system of Agni 6 will include inertial navigation system with Ring laser gyroscope, optionally augmented by IRNSS. Terminal guidance with possible radar scene correlation (this is a kind of terrain contour mapping this improves the accuracy of missiles).

Agni 5 an easy way to Agni- 6

Agni-V is an intermediate range ballistic missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).it is the predecessor of Agni-6. In future, Agni-V is expected to feature Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRVs) with each missile being capable of carrying 2–10 separate nuclear warheads. Each warhead can be assigned to a different target, separated by hundreds of kilometers. Agni 5 can be easily upgrade to an ICBM with minor changes. Have a look how it is possible.

A major factor towards greater range would be the weight reduction in the 50-tonne Agni-5, as older, heavier sub-systems are replaced by lighter, more reliable ones, including many made with lightweight composite materials. A major development in this regard is the replacement of hydraulic actuators in the Agni-5’s giant first stage with the state-of-the-art, electro-mechanical actuators that already equip Stage-2 and Stage-3.
Moving from hydraulic to electro-mechanical actuators not only saves weight due to lightweight components, but also eliminates problems like oil storage and leakage, and the need for an accumulator. In addition, electro-mechanical actuators are more reliable and easy to maintain.

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Currently, the Agni-5 has a metallic first stage, made of “maraging steel”, while the second and third stages are entirely built from lightweight composites, which were first tested in the Agni-4 on 15 Nov 2011. Stage-1 components like high-temperature rocket motor nozzles are already being made of composites. Gradually, the Agni-5 could become an all-composite missile that is significantly lighter than at present.

According to DRDO Scientists “No major development is needed to upgrade an Agni-5 into an ICBM. All that is needed is to improve materials to make the missile lighter, with better propulsion”. That would make the Agni-5, with an estimated current cost of Rs 100 crore per piece, the world’s most cost-effective ICBM. It could cost just one-third the price of an American ICBM, as estimated by the respected Federation of American Scientists.

What is the Agni-VI

  • DRDO is working on new Agni-VI which will be a three-stage, solid fuel ICBM missile which will be heavier and thicker than the Agni-V.
  • Agni-VI officially will have a range of 6000 km but with the lighter payload will have a strike range of 8,000 km to 10,000 km.
  • Agni-VI will be able to carry 3 tonne warheads thrice that of Agni-V which can carry only 1.1 Tonne warheads. Agni-VI will be the first missile to have the capability to carry 4 or 6 multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles [MIRV] payloads.
  • This will enable the missile to launch multiple nuclear warheads with each warhead striking a different target alternatively, separated by hundreds of kilometers, two or more warheads can be assigned to one target and can perform evasive maneuvers while hurtling down towards its target, confusing enemy air defense systems that will try to intercept them mid-air.
  • The important AGNI-VI ICBM is expected to feature Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicles (MIRV) capabilities. MIRVs ensure a credible second strike capability even with few missiles.
  • DRDO is also working on new K-5 SLBM which will be bigger and heavier but of the same length of K-4 but also will be capable to carry MIRV payloads up to 6000 km which will enter into service with Follow-up Arihant class submarines which India will be working on in near future.
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Technology Under Development For Agni 6

Multiple Warhead Technology

DRDO is at an advanced stage of integrating warhead technologies, but one notable challenge is building a booster rocket that can propel a three-tonne payload to targets more than 6,000 kilometres away. The payload weight is comparably more than what a GSLV can launch. The missile should also be able to deploy decoys and chaffs to evade air defense systems

Weapons Delivery
Analyzing a ballistic trajectory is a simple physics problem, but there is big difference betweem analysis and implementation. Recording the necessary data, rapidly analyzing it, combined with ever changing variables, to determine the precise moment to release a warhead so that it hits a specific target 6-7 thousand kilometers away, is not a simple task. Therefore, dispersing nuclear warheads is another major technological challenge.

Miniaturization of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons as has been obtained to fit the nose cone spatial shape of Agni-VI missile.

India’s ballistic missiles are compact and road mobile, even the Agni-6 with its heavy payload will be road mobile. DRDO will do this by building the first stage with composites, fitting the Agni-6 with India’s first composite 40-tonne rocket motor. This is a technical challenge but India has good capability in lightweight composites. The road mobile Agni-6 would also have stringent limits on its length. It must be carried on a standard size trailer that can move from one part of the country to another, turn on roads, cross bridges and climb heights. As the payload weight increases, will require more advanced technologies to keep the missile’s length constant.

Weight & Dimension
Harnessing maximum performance from smaller rockets also becomes especially important in submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) version, which cannot be any longer than 13 metres so as to fit into the cramped confines of a submarine. This holds true to even the K-4 “Sagarika” SLBM for the country’s Arihant-Class, Chakra-Class Nuclear-Propelled ballistic missile attack submarines (SSBNs).





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