Does India have MIRV (missiles)? If they are in making, then what is the status?

India is also working on multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs). MIRVs would allow the missile to evade enemy missile defence system. Many sceptics are of the view that MIRVs would jeopardise the strategic stability between India and Pakistan. However, it must be noted that Pakistan is also developing MIRVs. Strategic stability is not jeopardised when two rival states possess similar capabilities; that is when parity is maintained between the two rival states. Strategic stability is jeopardised when one of the rival states possesses a weapon isystem while the other does not.

However, MIRV technology is not easy to develop and China struggled for years to miniaturise nuclear warheads to develop MIRV technology. Even the erstwhile Soviet Union and the United States took almost two decades to master the technology of nuclear warhead miniaturisation.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been working on the technological requirements. For instance, the Agni-V has a diameter of two meters that could make them capable of carrying MIRVs. In fact, according to reports, not just Agni-V, but missiles like the Agni-III are also being made capable of carrying MIRVs. However, it is not just the diameter of the missile system that would only matter, but the missile would also need a post-boost control vehicle that could act as a platform to release these multiple warheads.

This would not be a very difficult task as the Agni-II already possesses post-boost vehicle (PBV) integrated to its re-entry vehicle. The PBV not only allows to carry penetration aids but also improves the accuracy of the missile. Most countries pursuing advanced missile technology programme like the United States, France, and Russia use PBV on their ICBMs for enhanced accuracy. The MIRVs are probably one of the reasons why the actual range of the Agni-V is greater than 5,000kms as these technologies are believed to have adverse effect on the range of the missile and can reduce the range of the missile drastically.

While Agni-V is undergoing successful trials, these trials are expensive to conduct. Computer simulations, on the other hand, continuously help to improvise the technological parameters of the missile system. All these factors would need to be taken into consideration in order to enhance the credibility of the missile system

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

Mobility

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).

The advantage of iIndia acquiring MIRV technology is many fold.

  1. Technology demonstration:MIRV missiles are a great technology demonstrators for re entry vehicles.
  2. Deterrence:Imagine a MIRV being fired from a nuclear submarine.The chances of preventing the missile from hitting the target are pretty slim.Possesing such technology makes our foes to think twice before resorting to nuclear first strike on India.
  3. Ballistic missile shields: missile shields such as Iron dome of Israel intercept the missiles before they reaching the targets.China i guess is working on such anti ballistic missile shield. So in order to mitigate the chances of our missile being intercepted , MIRVs along with decoy missiles are used together.This would greatly reduce their effectiveness.

 

 

Source:-  Debalina Ghoshal, Security Analyst @ForceMagazine

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