Missile minds in India are an excited lot after monitoring the developments of Russia's 'secret' test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on May 23. While information on the test and its results are in short supply, sources with India's Missile Complex in Hyderabad seems to have made merry of what ever tit-bit features that have trickled in from Russia's Plesetsk range. Topping the eye-catching item numbers are: the missile's lesser radar cross section (RCS) features, multiple warhead capabilities and the use of a new fuel, that possibly makes the propulsion phase faster. The excitement of Indian scientists can be justified from the fact that many of the new features tested on the Russian missile are the the ones being planned for future versions of Agni series.
Russian news agencies have reported over the week that the testing of the yet-to-be-named weapon is Russia's answer to NATO's missile defence shield (European). The timing of the test with many first-time-embedded features came only days after NATO declared that their missile defence shield attained operational status. “We too have a very active Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) programme running, including a counter measure for BMD. It is one of our key activities and we are seeing reports from Russia with interest,” Avinash Chander, Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), Defence Reserach and Development Organisation (DRDO), told Express.
He said some of the features that is reported to have tested are areas DRDO have already set its sight on. “The idea is to reduce the time during the cruise phase. How to reduce RCS and IR (infrared) signatures? What are the active counter measures in terms of the capabilities to mauouvere? These are all common interest areas for missile scientists world over,” Avinash said. To a specific question on the new features of Agni-V future versions, he said: “We are now preparing the canister-launch-system for Agni-V.”
The Russian missile hit the designated target after cruising 6,000 km, carrying dummy warheads. On the new fuel the missile reportedly used, sources in the Missile Complex said: “This could provide higher acceleration and enable high thrust-weight ratio. In Agni-V, we used a solid booster with HTPB (Hydroxyl-Terminated Polybutadiene) propellant during the rocket's active stage of trajectory.”
On the Russian missile's capability to launch separate warheads with independent flightpath – thereby ducking incoming threats, sources said that India too would have similar features in days ahead. “Agni-VI is a definite possibility, though we haven't designed the vehicle yet. With many developed nations moving towards mastering new maneuvering skills for their missiles, we are confident of meeting our targets too. The idea of multiple independently-targeted re-entry vehicles (MIRV) and manoeuvring re-entry vehicles (MaRV) are on our active radar,” sources said.
Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence: Russia's 'secret' missile test fires-up Indian scientists