Balasore: Before the din that was kicked off after test firing of the much-touted Intercontinental Range Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Agni-V was settled down, India is gearing up to go for the maiden development trial of Agni-VI missile within next two years notwithstanding international reactions and pressures.
Being developed by the DRDO, the new generation ICBM Agni-VI will have a strike range of 8,000 km to 10,000 km. A reliable source said that the drawing and designing work of the most advanced missile had been started.
"It will be a three-stage missile and taller than the Agni-V. The design is just taking shape and other sub systems are under development. If everything goes as per the programme, the missile will be ready by mid 2014," said the source.
A scientist associated with the project said unlike the bulky Agni-III, the new generation Agni-VI missile will be more trendy and sleek, so that it can be easily carried to any place and deployed as and when required.
While the length of the missile would be reportedly around 40 meters as against Agni-V’s 17.5 meter, its diameter will be 1.1 meter, which is almost half of Agni-V. The missile’s launch weight would be around 55 tonne.
The Agni-VI is said to be the latest and most advanced version among the Agni series of missiles. It will have the capability to be launched from submarine and from land-based launchers. The DRDO is also working on integrating Agni-V with submarine.
The new missile will also carry more number of warheads than any other versions. While Agni-V can carry up to three nuclear warheads, sources said the next missile in the series can carry even up to 10 nuclear warheads, capable of hitting multiple targets simultaneously.
After the first test launching of 5,000 km range Agni-V missile while many had raised question about its ICBM capabilities, though it can hit the target anywhere in Asia, Africa and Europe except America, the development of Agni-VI would definitely be a befitting reply to them.
Apart from the Agni-VI's ground version, the DRDO is also simultaneously working out for its underground variant. The submarine launched version of the missile will arm the Arihant class submarines of the Indian Navy. This missile with a strike range of 6,000 kilometers can carry a payload of one tonne.
"We are seriously contemplating to enhance the reach of our strategic missiles. The development of Agni-VI will be a step forward to accomplish the goal. With the present strength we are capable of developing the inter-continental ballistic missiles which can hit targets beyond the range of 10,000 km," added the scientist.