Agni V missile

Context: Successful flight test of Agni V ballistic missile with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) technology by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under ‘Mission Divyastra’.

Agni missile series:

It is a family of intermediate-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) developed by DRDO.

  • Agni-I: A single-stage, short-range ballistic missile with a range of 700–900 km
  • Agni-II: A two-stage, intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of nearly 2,000 km.
  • Agni-III: A two-stage, intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of nearly 3,500km.
  • Agni-IV: A two-stage, long-range ballistic missile with a range of 4,000 km.
  • Agni-V: A three-stage, intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with range of over 5000 km.
  • Agni-VI: An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) reported to be in early stages of development. Expected range: ~8000 km.

Other ballistic missiles in India:

Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) technology:

  • Capability that allows multiple warheads to be loaded on a single missile delivery system and programmed to hit different targets.
  • Complicated technology: The warheads have to be
    • Miniaturised,
    • equipped with independent guidance and navigation controls
    • released sequentially from the delivery system.

Other countries with MIRV Capability: China, Pakistan, France, Russia, UK, USA.


  • Increased Destructive Potential: A single MIRV missile can take out multiple targets in one launch, significantly multiplying its destructive power.
  • Harder to Defend Against: Missile defense systems designed to intercept a single warhead become much less effective against MIRVs.
  • Capability to cause crippling damage in a response strike, especially for countries with no-first use policy like India.


  • Destabilization: The proliferation of MIRVs is viewed as a threat to global stability as it raises the potential for overwhelming attacks and retaliatory strikes.
  • Arms Race: The development of MIRVs by one nation can trigger similar advancements by others, leading to a dangerous arms race.

Mains practice question:

India’s recent successful test of the Agni-5 ballistic missile underscores a significant advancement in its defense capabilities. Analyze the implications of this test on India’s regional and global security posture. Assess the diplomatic ramifications of this test and its implications for India’s role in global non-proliferation efforts.

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