Is India working on Surya ICBM? What could be the ramifications if it is test fired

Ballistic missiles play a key role in the international geopolitics. The range and type of warhead a missile can carry determines what is called a sphere of influence of particular nation. Long range nuclear capable missiles are strategic weapons which means that it can not only spook the enemy nation with possible consequences if used, but can also serve as a deterrent. Deterrence, in layman terms, is nothing but planting the fear of retaliation in the mind of the adversary.

Most long range nuclear capable ballistic missiles with advance striking capabilities are developed to serve as deterrents. The basic concept is ‘If you strike, I can strike back and wreak havoc’, it is this fear that prevents war and hostility.

Coming to Indian ballistic missiles, Agni-5 is India’s most advanced long range missile which was inducted into the service after multiple trials. Whenever Agni series missiles are test fired, especially Agni-4 and Agni-5, a prompt statement comes from both China and Pakistan. The Chinese response to Agni-5 tests are particularly elaborate as this missile can reach almost all parts of the Chinese mainland.

There have been speculations that India could be working on a longer range ballistic missile – Agni-6. While some reports have suggested that Agni -6 could be in the hardware development phase, some others have gone on to the extent of claiming that Agni VI is being given the finishing touches by the DRDO. The DRDO and the MoD have been tight-lipped about it and no clear statement has been given in this regard.

The fourth test of the nuclear-capable, intercontinental Agni-V missile on 26 December 2016, it was reported that Agni-6 could be armed with MIRV (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles) capability which is an advanced technology that allows a single missile to carry multiple warheads, with each warhead capable of striking a different target.

Agni-6 could be an ICBM with 8,000 km – 10,000 km range. Developing it or even the mere announcement that India would be developing it in future is a very tricky situation. For one, India would be breaking out of the regional context. Range of ballistic missiles is a contentious issue. Many European nations and experts in the US are likely to argue that why should India develop a 10,000 kms range ICBM when its furthest rival is China.

The range of Agni 5 itself is a mystery of sorts as China claims that it can travel as far as 8,000 kms. The DRDO claims that Agni 5 has a range of 5,000 kms.

After Agni-5’s previous test, China’s ruling Communist Party-run tabloid Global Times said in its editorial, “India has broken the UN’s limits on its development of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missile…New Delhi is no longer satisfied with its nuclear capability and is seeking intercontinental ballistic missiles that can target anywhere in the world and then it can land on an equal footing with the UN Security Council’s five permanent members.”

While accusing India of violating limits imposed by UN on nuclear and long range missile development, the editorial further said that Pakistan should have those privileges in nuclear development that India has.

“In general, it is not difficult for India to produce intercontinental ballistic missiles which can cover the whole world. If the UN Security Council has no objection over this, let it be. The range of Pakistan’s nuclear missiles will also see an increase,” it said.

In a way China is hinting that it would back Islamabad if Pakistan chooses to develop long-range missiles. Now that would seriously hamper peace and stability in the sub-continent, as the existing reasons were enough.

If India unveils Agni 6, then it may irk the US and some European countries. India would be risking sanctions if it blatantly goes ahead and tests Agni 6. India is a rising economic power and at this juncture, it would not like to sour economic ties with Europe. A missile of 10,000 km range is bound to make European nations uncomfortable and this may have an impact on trade ties.

What do we know so far about Surya ICBM:

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 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.

Surya Missile Will be road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile Is underdevelopment phase by india’s defense research and organistaion (DRDO). first report about the Surya missile was published by The Nonproliferation Review in 1995, albeit the status remains unconfirmed as of 2012. with some report indicating that the development of this system was initiated in 1994, Conflicting reports regarding the Surya’s configuration claim that it will be based on the components of the polar space launch vehicle (PSLV) and the Agni IRBM.

Guidance system of Surya Missile 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 “Surya” 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 Surya to have characteristics equal to (parity with) the latest ICBMs of India’s main nuclear opponent, China.
It is believed to have a top speed of Mach 25 or 30625 km per hour, and to be capable of M I R V (Thermo neuclear) delivery (up to 10) around 250 kilo ton.

Does India really need Surya ICBM ?

India needs an ICBM that can reach every major country on the planet; that is, a missile with a range of at least 12,000 kilometre. We should not fear US and Europe as our economy is growing at 7-8% they will not put restriction on us as they also want access to larger market.

Now there are many people on the other side of the debate who question whether ICBMs are such a big deal. Their reasoning is that India’s furthest rival is China so there’s no need for a missile that travels further than that country. Plus, they argue, the US and Europe aren’t inimical to India so why provoke their ire by developing missiles that could potentially target these benign fellows?

Such thinking ignores a basic precept of defence – a nation must forever wage peace but keep its powder dry. ICBMs are strategic weapons and without a global-range missile, India will be unable to break out of its regional context. It’s as simple as that.

The ICBM is the doomsday weapon that separates the men from the boys in the global slugfest. While it is true that economic strength plays a key role in shaping international power equations, strategic missiles alone can guarantee fail-safe national security. As the Federation of American Scientists says, “Regardless of the origin of a conflict, a country may involve the entire world simply by threatening to spread the war with an ICBM.”

The supposedly horrendous cost of building and maintaining ICBMs is also touted as a reason why nations should avoid them. However, for decades China has strutted on the global stage on the strength of just 20 silo-based ICBMs. Today, of course, it has nuclear armed submarines and road mobile ICBMs, but those 20 venerable missiles have given it strategic parity with the US and Russia who both possess hundreds of missiles.

Clearly, strategic missiles are one reason (the other being the permanent seat at the U N Security Council) why regional chipmunks like France and Britain continue to talk big whereas Germany and Japan despite their massive economies remain fringe players. Without a credible ICBM force, India will be looked upon as nothing more than a subcontinental bully – a country that aspires to play hardball with the giants but ends up relegated to the minor league.






Source:- One India

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