NEW DELHI — India says it has no plans to wind up the three-decade-old Agni program and will continue to develop more missiles in the series.
“There is no question of capping the Agni program,” says Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) Director General V.K. Saraswat. “Our missile development program is based on today’s current and evolving threats. Evolving threats will continue to drive our future needs for platforms and weapons.”
Saraswat addressed media April 20 after the successful launch of the 5,000-km-range (3,000 mi.) Agni-V intermediate ballistic missile on April 19.
Asked when the missile would be operational, Saraswat says, “We will carry out two more tests of Agni-V, which will take about one-and-a-half years, and after that the production of the missile will commence and we will start handing it over to the military. When it reaches the military they will start training and so a maximum time of two years is needed to operationalize Agni-V.”
Saraswat also clarified that Agni-V is a long-range missile and not an intercontinental missile. However, he refused to comment on the range of future Agnis, and whether the range will exceed 10,000 km.
Capabilities such as anti-satellite missions, the ability to launch satellites on demand and multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) could be part of the Agni series.
“It [Agni-V] does not have the MIRV capability, but future Agni missiles will definitely have one and our defense scientists are already working toward developing it,” Saraswat says. He also denied reports that the next missiles in the Agni series have been named “Agni-VI.”