SURYA : INDIA’S MOST LETHAL MISSILE UPDATE

Surya Missile Or Agni 6 is an intercontinental ballistic missile under development by the DRDO for the use of the Indian Armed Forces.Surya Missile will be a four-stage intercontinental ballistic missile. Surya Missile 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 Surya Missile or 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).

One observer suggested “Agni 6 (Agni VI)’s likely specifications are total weight 55,000 kgs, height 17-20 meters, 1.1 – 2.0 metre diameter, 3 stage rocket boosted. Launched from semi-hidden  transporter erector launcher (TEL) truck, or disguised rail car. … The 10,000 km range would bring the capitals of three of the other major nuclear powers into range. Such a long range increases flexibility, important for deterrence. For political reasons India probably does not wish to talk about longer range ICBMs – with 13,000 km capable of reaching all nuclear powers…. India wishes the 10,000 km range missile, known as the Agni 6  (Agni VI), to have characteristics equal to (parity with) the latest ICBMs of India’s main nuclear opponent, China…. Agni 6  may be first tested in 2017 . Testing may last 4 years to 2021. Then in-service, operational around 2023 or later.” The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) of India is said to be developing its next Agni missile which could carry multiple warheads, according to February 2013 news reports. DRDO chief V K Saraswat has confirmed the report saying, “India is developing Agni VI missile capable of carrying multiple warheads.” He also added that the developmental trial of the missile will begin soon. “Agni-V is major strategic defence weapon. Now we want to make Agni-VI which would be a force multiplier,” said V K Saraswat DRDO chief, PTI reported.

Our ballistic missiles must be compact and road mobile, even the Agni-6 with its heavy payload. We 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 we have good capability in lightweight composites,” says Chander.

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 our roads, cross our bridges and climb our heights. As the payload weight increases, we will require more advanced technologies to keep the missile’s length constant,” explains Chander.

Agni 5 an easy way to Agni- 6(Surya Missile)

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Agni-5 India’s first China Centric ICBM recently turned 5 and also underwent its fourth and final test-firing last year and will now undergo at least two user-trials by the tri-service Strategic Forces Command (SFC) before it enters full-scale production and induction, which has lead to wide-scale speculation among Defence and Nuclear analysts worldwide on possible debut of Agni-VI pretty soon .

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.

Surya or Agni 6 Capabilities

Multiple Warhead Technology

The MIRV capabilities were first deployed in the sixties by USA and the then Soviet Union, which in fact triggered a missile race in the world. However India is the last one to work on the development of such highly capable missile and can only be termed as a reactive program in a deterrent posture.

Presently all of the American submarine launched missiles are equipped with the MIRV capabilities whereas some of the Surface launched Ballistic missiles have a single warhead only.

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

The Agni-6 would prove to be a game changer on the Chess Board in which the two Asian giants are gradually positioning their pawns to checkmate the other side effectively. This would help India rise from a regional power to a global power.

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Greater Range

What is of great interest for the strategic observers  is that the Agni-6 might go up to the range of 10,000 kms as stated in the appointment letter of Dr Avinash Chander, the capability would for the first time can engage any target  based even at Europe and many  of US strategic assets situated worldwide.

The entire Chinese landmass would be covered by this forthcoming ICBM, supposedly to be named as Surya, the exact nomenclature has long been denied by MoD and the DRDO officials.

The Agni-6 would thus give India a Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) capability and bring some kind of strategic parity with China in a very asymmetric ICBM capability. China is reported to possess more than 400 ICBMs and is deployed in various directions, whereas, India’s strategic missile program is directed mainly towards China with which India has long standing border and territorial dispute and in the environment of asymmetric unconventional warfare, the Agni-6 would give a moral strength to Indian armed forces and can dare to challenge the Chinese forces on the 4000 kms long Line Of Actual Control.

As stated by Saraswat, the MIRV capable Agni-6 would act as a force multiplier. Though there are speculations regarding the number of warheads to be put on the Agni-6, the DRDO officials still gave a figure of three to six leaving a lot of room for speculations.

The SLBM version of the Agni-6 would arm the Arihant class of indigenously developed nuclear submarines and thus give real meaning to India’s nuclear deterrence policy with a second strike capability. The Arihant would be hiding anywhere in the Indian Ocean, as near possible to the Chinese coastal cities.

The design of the Agni-6 is reported to be sleeker than the Agni-5 which would be easy to transport and launch. The Agni-6 SLBM would be solid fuel missile with a limited range of 6000 kms, with a payload of one tonne, whereas the Surface launched missile can have longer ranges.

After Indian press made proud claims of being able to hit China through the Agni-5 missile, Global Times, the Chinese English daily commented “India should not overestimate its strength. Even if it has missiles that could reach most parts of China that does not mean it will gain anything from being arrogant during disputes with China. India should be clear that China’s nuclear power is stronger and more reliable. For the foreseeable future, India would stand no chance in an overall arms race with China.”

Thus the Chinese daily, which is considered to be the mouth piece of the Chinese Communist Party, through which the party sends a subtle message to international community, has  indirectly indicated they have taken note of India’s Agni-6 ICBM with MIRV development program.

But in real sense the Agni-6 will herald India in the super power league of countries possessing the very long range Inter continental Ballistic Missile with multiple warheads and will definitely act as a deterrent to any power on earth, however mighty that power may be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source:- Ajai Shukla, Strategic Affairs

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