Strategic Weapons: India Aims Agni At China

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January 5, 2012:  India continued test firings of its Agni family of ballistic missiles in the past year. Four of the six Agni series missile types are in service and two are in development. India began work on the Agni series in the 1990s and this effort was accelerated after India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

The Agni I is a 12 ton missile that was first tested in 2002. It has a maximum range of 1,200 kilometers and a payload of one ton.

The Agni II is a 16 ton missile that was first tested in 1999. It has a maximum range of 2,000 kilometers and a payload of one ton.

The Agni III is a 48 ton missile that was first tested in 2006. It has a maximum range of 5,000 kilometers and a payload of one ton.

The Agni IV is a 49 ton missile that was first tested in 2011. It has a maximum range of 3,500 kilometers and a payload of one ton.

The Agni V is a solid fuel missile that is still under development. It is suppose to have a maximum range of 5,000 kilometers and a payload of one ton.

The Agni VI is a submarine launched, solid fuel missile, with a maximum range of 6,000 kilometers and a payload of one ton.

While the initial target for Agni missiles was Pakistan, in the last decade China has become the primary destination. It took a while for India to accept this shift. This wasn't easy. For example, six years ago India halted development work on the Agni III because it was really only useful against China. Since India had been working hard to develop better economic and diplomatic ties with China, putting the Agni III on ice seemed a good idea at the time. It was also believed that shutting down the Agni III project would save a lot of money, as each Agni III built would have cost $20 million. Not a good investment for a weapon that will only antagonize a nation you are trying to develop better relationships with. This halt did not last long and now the Agni III is in service. It can hit targets throughout most of China.

 


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