Agni-III is an intermediate-range ballistic missile developed by India as the successor to Agni-II. It has a range of 3,500 km- 5,000 km, and is capable of engaging targets deep inside neighbouring countries, including Shanghai in China. The missile’s Circular error probable (CEP) is within 40 meters range, which makes it the most sophisticated and accurate ballistic missile of its range class in the world. In June 2011, it was reported that Agni-III has been inducted into the armed forces and is under production. US Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center estimates that as of June 2017 less than 10 launchers were operationally deployed.
Agni-III missile test fired on 21 September 2012
|Type||Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile|
|Place of origin||India|
|Used by||Strategic Forces Command|
|Designer||Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)|
|Manufacturer||Bharat Dynamics Limited|
|Unit cost||₹250 million (US$4 million) – ₹350 million (US$5 million)|
|Warhead||Strategic nuclear weapon (15 to 250 kiloton) (2000 to 2500 kg), conventional, thermobaric|
|Engine||Two stage solid propellant engine|
|3,500 km – 5,000 km|
|Flight altitude||> 450 km|
|Speed||5–6 km/s |
|Ring Laser Gyro- INS (Inertial Navigation System), optionally augmented by GPS, terminal guidance with possible radar scene correlation|
|flex-nozzle Thrust vectoring(first and second stage)|
|Accuracy||40 m CEP with terminal guidance|
|8 × 8 TELAR (Transporter erector launcher) Rail Mobile Launcher|
India's Credible minimum deterrence envisages a nuclear triad of counter-strike capability which required a long range missile to provide robust second strike capability. A missile system that can be dispersed far and wide in the Indian mainland, its far flung islands or its blue water naval assets dispersed across the world's oceans. Following this necessity India developed a larger Agni-III missile, with a heavier payload and a longer range but in a compact configuration, i.e. thicker but shorter length. This development is driven by need for a more assured retaliation that can defeat emerging anti ballistic missile (ABM) defence and countermeasures. Such capability requires a compact missile that can also carry ABM counter-measure payloads along with weapons, in a configuration similar to a MIRV, albeit with state-of-the-art decoys.
Agni III was developed as the successor to Agni-II. Designed by the Indian government's Defence Research and Development Organisation, Agni III is a two-stage ballistic missile that is capable of nuclear weapons delivery. It was designed and developed by the Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), a unit of DRDO, which was formed in September 2001 with its main objective being the development of large-sized rocket motors. ASL developed the propulsion plant for solid-fuel motors, including the infrastructure for propellant casting. The stubby two-stage solid fuel missile is compact and small enough for easy mobility and flexible deployment on various surface/sub-surface platforms.
The missile is equipped with sophisticated navigation, guidance and control systems along with advanced on-board computer systems. The electronic systems are hardened for higher vibration, thermal and acoustic effects. A high performance indigenous ring laser gyro-based navigation system was flight-tested for the first time during the Agni-III trial on 7 Feb 2010.
The Agni-III has two stages with an overall diameter of two meters. Initially, the first stage mass was about 32 tonnes and 7.7 m long, the second stage mass was about 10 tonnes and 3.3 m long. The missile is likely to support a wide range of warhead configurations, with a 4,500 km range and a total payload weight of 2490 kg.
The Agni-III features two solid fuelled stages and with overall diameter of 2.0 meters. This diameter is compatible with a recently tested Indian sub-surface launch system, which has a 2.3 meter diameter launch tube aperture.
The first stage booster is made of advanced carbon composite materials to provide high payload fraction (mass fraction). It is 7.7 meters long, with a diameter of 2 metres. The second stage made of maraging steel and has a length of 3.3 metres. The second stage has vectoring nozzles, to provide necessary flight trajectory control.
The first test for Agni III was conducted from Abdul Kalam Island (then known as Wheeler Island) off the Bhadrak coast on 9 July 2006. The launch proved to be unsuccessful, with the missile falling into the sea off the coast of Odisha, short of reaching the target. According to DRDO, the failure was due to a first stage anomaly that was caused by recirculating hot gases entering the missile-base shroud and damaging the electronic components. Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee reported it as "partial success" (a trade euphemism to indicate the test generated useful data for diagnosis and correction) as the missile was air-borne for only 5 minutes instead of the expected 15 minutes.
Agni-III was test fired again on 12 April 2007, from the Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of Odisha. This time, the launch was declared as a success. India's Cabinet Committee on Security announced that "This test confirms the extent of India's nuclear reach and India's nuclear deterrence as the missile can accurately hit targets at distance more than 3000 km away".
Already the most powerful and capable in India's missile inventory, the Agni-III is capable of carrying a variety of warheads, including nuclear warheads and can be launched from various platforms giving India intermediate range ballistic missile firepower and greatly extending India's power projection in the region.
Agni III was test fired successfully for third time on 7 May 2008. The missile was launched from Balasore, Odisha. After a flight of roughly 15 minutes defence scientists confirmed that the test fire was successful and that the missile met all parameters. The missile has a velocity of 5,000 meters per second. Agni-III is a nuclear capable fully solid propellant fuelled surface-to-surface missile, and has a range of 3,500 km. A new software for navigation system fitted on the missile will increase accuracy and lethality. The successful test on 7 May opened the doors for the next generation Indian ICBM Agni V with a range of 5,000–6,000 kilometres.
The development test of Agni III was put off for unknown reasons in August 2009.
Agni III was tested successfully for the fourth time from Abdul Kalam Island in Odisha on 7 February 2010. The missile is said to have hit the target with pin point accuracy and met all the mission objectives. Two down range ships located near the target tracked and witnessed the Missile reaching the target accurately. The missile is likely to support a wide range of warhead configurations, with a 3,500 km range and a total payload weight of 2490 kg. The two-stage solid fuel missile is compact and small enough for easy mobility and flexible deployment on various surface/sub-surface platforms. The test validated the nuclear triggering mechanism, meaning Agni-III is meant for strategic nuclear deterrence. The test launch is part of pre-induction of the missile into the Indian Army.
In August 2010, the defence minister of India announced that Agni-III is ready for induction and in June 2011, it was reported that the Agni-III missile had already been inducted into the armed forces.
In September 2012, it is reported that a missile group is now being raised with Agni-III missiles.
On 21 September 2012, as part of regular user-training the Strategic Forces Command test fired an Agni III missile from a rail mobile launcher. The missile was randomly chosen from a production lot. All mission objectives were achieved and the missile hit the pre-designated target with a two-digit accuracy.
On 23 December 2013, the missile was tested by the Strategic Forces Command of the Indian Army. The test was a success.
On 16 April 2015, Agni-III was tested successfully from Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast. "The trial, carried out by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC of the Indian Army), was fully successful," ITR Director M V K V Prasad told PTI.
On 27 April 2017, Agni-III was tested successfully from the launch Pad No. 4 of the Integrated Test Range at 9.12 a.m off Odisha coast. The Strategic Forces Command (SFC) carried out test with support from DRDO.
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