Agni (missile)

The Agni missile (Agnī, "fire" and also the Hindu god of fire, a cognate of Latin ignis, "fire", hence English ignite) is a family of medium to intercontinental range ballistic missiles developed by India, named after one of the five elements of nature.


1.      Medium-range ballistic missile (Agni-I)

2.      Intermediate-range ballistic missile (Agni-II, Agni-III, Agni-IV)

3.      Intercontinental ballistic missile (Agni-V)


Manufacturer: Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL)






Operational Range

Flight altitude



1.0 m

12,000 kg

15 m

700-1,200 km

300 km

2.5 km/s


1.0 m

16,000 kg

21 m

2,000-3,500 km

230 km

3.5 km/s


2.0 m

48,000 kg

17 m

3,500-5,000 km

350 km




49,000 kg

17.5 m

Over 5,500 km




The first missile of the series, Agni-I was developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program and tested 1991.

Agni missile range






700 – 1,200 km



2,000 – 2,500 km



3,000 – 5,000 km



2,500 – 3,700  km



5,000 – 8,000 km



6,000 – 10,000 km



Agni-I was first tested at the Integrated Test Range in Chandipur in 1989.

Weighing 12 tonne with a length of 15 metres, Agni-I has a range of 700–1200 km and is capable of carrying a conventional payload of 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) or a nuclear warhead at a speed of 2.5 km/s. Agni missiles consist of one (short range) or two stages (intermediate range).

These are rail and road mobile and powered by solid propellants. Agni-I is used by the Strategic Force Command (SFC) of the Indian Army.


Agni-II ballistic missile

Agni-II has a range of 2,000–2,500 km has a length of 20 metres, diameter of one metre, and weighs around 18 tonnes. Agni - II uses solid propellant in both of its two stages.

They are claimed to be a part of the "credible deterrence"


Agni-III is the third in the Agni series of missiles. It has a range of 3,500 km, and can take a warhead of 1.5 tonnes.

Agni III uses solid propellant in both stages. It was tested on July 9, 2006 from Wheeler Island off the coast of the eastern state of Orissa. After the launch, it was reported that the second stage of the rocket did not separate and the missile had fallen well short of its target.

Agni-III was again tested on April 12, 2007, this time successfully, again from Wheeler Island. On May 7, 2008 India again successfully test fired this missile. This was the third consecutive test; it validated the missile's operational readiness while extending the reach of India's nuclear deterrent to most high-value targets of the nation's most likely adversaries.

It has been reported that the missile's circular error probable (CEP) lies in the range of 40 meters, This would make the Agni-III most accurate strategic ballistic missiles of its range class in the world. This is of special significance because a highly accurate ballistic missile increases the "kill efficiency" of the weapon;

It allows Indian weapons designers to use smaller yield nuclear warheads (200 kiloton thermonuclear or boosted fission) while increasing the lethality of the strike. This permits India to deploy a much larger nuclear force using less fissile/fusion material (plutonium/lithium deuteride) than other nuclear powers.

Older ballistic missiles, such as those deployed by earlier nuclear powers required larger yield (1-2 megaton) warheads to achieve the same level of lethality. It has also been reported that with smaller payloads, the Agni-III can hit strategic targets well beyond 3,500 km.


Agni-IV is the fourth in the Agni series of missiles which was earlier known as Agni II prime. Agni-IV was tested on November 15, 2011 from Wheeler Island off the coast of the eastern state of Orissa. With a range of 2,500-3,500 km Agni-IV bridges the gap between Agni II and Agni III. Agni IV can take a warhead of 1 tonne. It is designed to increase the kill efficiency along with a higher range performance. Agni IV is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, that includes indigenously developed ring laser gyro and composite rocket motor. It is a two-stage missile powered by solid propellant. Its length is 20 meters and launch weight 17 tonnes. It can be fired from a road mobile launcher.


Agni-V is a solid fueled intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) of India. It will greatly expand India's reach to strike targets up to 5,000 km away. Agni-V was test fired successfully on 19th April 2012 from wheeler island off the coast of Orissa. Agni-V ICBM has been designed with the addition of a third composite stage to the two-stage Agni-III missile. To reduce the weight it is built with high composite content. The 17.5-metre-long Agni-V would be a canister launch missile system so as to ensure that it has the requisite operational flexibility and can be swiftly transported and fired from anywhere. Agni-V weighs around 49 tonnes, one tonne more than Agni III even though its range is much farther.


Agni-VI is an intercontinental ballistic missile said to be in an early stages of development by India. It is to be the latest and most advanced version among the Agni (missile) program. Capable of being launched from submarines or from land, it will be able to strike at a target of 6,000-10,000 km with MIRVed warheads.

Further developments

In May 2008 Indian scientists announced they had developed and patented a path-breaking technology that increases the range of missiles and satellite launch vehicles by at least 40%. The enhanced range is made possible by adding a special-purpose coating of chromium-based material to a rocket's blunt nose cone. The material acts as a reactive-ablative coating that forms a thin low density gaseous layer at the tip of the rocket as it approaches hypersonic speeds; this super-heated gas layer reduces drag by 47% (at mach 7-8), thereby allowing range enhancements at least 40%. It has been announced that this technology will be incorporated in future Agni deployments after having undergone ranging and calibration tests.



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