SOURCE: JATIN RAM / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
It was in April back in 2012, that India for the first time had tested the Agni V ICBM that had a range of over 5000km and that could hit not only the whole of China but also as far as targets in Europe but also made many of India’s friendly countries nervous about country’s ICBM program that in last 10 years it’s more or less meant curtains on development of land-based intercontinental ballistic missile program in the country.
Agni V unlike other missiles has been sparingly tested only 8 times in the last 10 years as India doesn’t want to be seen as trigger happy nuclear state. In the last few years, Agni-V also has disappeared from the military parade that takes place on Republic day. India is the only country in the so-called ” nuclear elite ” group of big 5 that wants to maintain a low profile on its Agni-V program.
Self-imposed freeze on the long-range ballistic missiles meant there was no Agni-6 nor any missile that had the actual range to hit deep targets anywhere in the world. India has shifted its focus now on the development of submarine-launched ballistic missiles with K15 and K4 being the only members of India’s underwater nuclear second-strike capabilities soon to be joined by K-5 and eventually by K-6 that is likely will surpass Agni-V in terms of range and capabilities.
K-5 seems to be an Agni-V equivalent that is getting ready to be tested this year but the platform which it will be equipped with will take a few more years before it is ready for induction. We know what is public available documents that DRDO has got principal approvals for the development of the K-6 but it might take 4-5 years more before we see some of the developmental trials taking place.
In the last few years, we have seen Agni-V in the northeast frontier and other border areas that confirm that the missile has been inducted and activated by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) which forms part of India’s Nuclear Command Authority (NCA). Agni-V entered low-scale production sometime in 2015-16 and has reached a two-digit production scale in the last few years. DRDO continues to plan to carry out upgrades and introduce the latest technology in the Agni-V variants that it quietly plans to develop and integrate over the period.
It doesn’t seem that successor to the Agni-V will be coming anytime soon but batch upgrades and incorporation of advances made in the submarine-launched ballistic missiles will make into the Agni-V program for the next few years.