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Nearly twelve years have passed since India first tested its Agni-V Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) in 2012, marking a significant milestone in the country’s strategic defense capabilities. Since then, the Agni missile series has undergone several advancements, culminating in the recent testing of the Agni-V Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) variant in 2024.

The journey of the Agni missile series began with the testing of the Agni-V ICBM in 2012, providing India with the capability to strike targets anywhere within mainland China. Despite capping its range at 5000km initially, subsequent advancements and modifications have enhanced the missile’s capabilities significantly. Though officially capped at 5,000 km, analysts believe the technology could potentially reach 8,000 km with a lighter payload.

In 2015, the Agni-V was tested from a sealed canister, improving its operational flexibility and ease of handling. In 2021, Strategic Forces Command’s user trials confirmed the missile’s readiness for production, potentially alleviating international concerns about ongoing testing.

As India progressed in its missile development endeavors, work commenced on the next iteration of the Agni-V, often referred to as MkII in the media. This upgraded version, tested in 2022, boasted substantial weight reduction achieved through the incorporation of lightweight composite materials and the replacement of older subsystems with more efficient counterparts. The weight reduction not only enhanced the missile’s performance but also extended its range to over 7000km with a full payload.

The most recent milestone in the Agni missile series came in 2024 with the testing of the Agni-V MIRV variant. Equipped with Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles, this third-generation missile system significantly enhances India’s strategic capabilities. MIRV technology enables a single missile to carry multiple warheads, increasing its capacity to overwhelm adversary missile defense systems and reducing the effectiveness of interception attempts. India’s successful demonstration of MIRV capability ahead of projected timelines underscores the nation’s prowess in missile technology and strategic planning.

Agni-V MIRV also means India quietly achieved Miniaturization of nuclear warheads, developed Advanced guidance and navigation systems, Validated Reliable individual re-entry vehicles. A Federation of American Scientists (FAS) report recently said that India’s test of Agni-V MIRV was ahead of their own calculations who were expecting such a demonstration likely in the next 5 years.

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