Editorial – March 22, 2024

Editorial – March 22, 2024

Editorial – March 22, 2024

Title: New Capabilities: India and the Agni-V with MIRV

On March 11, Prime Minister Narendra Modi used social media to announce India’s entry into a small club of countries capable of delivering multiple nuclear warheads on a single missile. This was accomplished with the maiden flight test of Agni-V, India’s longest range ballistic missile with a range of over 5,000 kilometres, with multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) technology under ‘Mission Divyastra’ by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Since its first test in April 2012, Agni-V has undergone several tests and developments including canisterisation to improve its ease of handling and operation. The MIRV system’s indigenous avionics systems and high accuracy sensor packages ensure that the re-entry vehicles reach the target points accurately. The DRDO said the mission accomplished the designed parameters.

The test also comes five years after India’s maiden anti-satellite (ASAT) test under Mission Shakti. On March 27, 2019, a live satellite in the low earth orbit of around 300 km was shot down using a modified interceptor of the Ballistic Missile Defence system.

This is a significant technological breakthrough that furthers India’s nuclear weapons programme and strengthens second strike capability. This is particularly important given India’s nuclear doctrine based on a no-first-use policy, credible minimum deterrence and massive retaliation in case of a first strike, which was espoused in 2003, after the nuclear tests of 1998.

 The choice of the MIRV on Agni-V, a three-stage solid fuelled engine, is significant as it is focused towards China given its range and multiple warheads give it the ability to defeat missile defences. India completed the nuclear triad when Mr. Modi declared in November 2018 that the country’s first nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant had finished its first deterrence patrol.

The MIRV is the next technological threshold in this direction and it is now only logical and a matter of time before the MIRV is deployed on submarine-launched ballistic missiles. China, which is fast expanding its nuclear arsenal, has already deployed MIRV technology — first deployed by the U.S. in 1970. Pakistan claims to have tested it as well. In this regard, the other side of this development is the factor of escalation dynamics that is going to accelerate in the region with China and Pakistan.

This spiral race of one-upmanship is only going to deepen, get more technology-intensive and turn out to be an expensive endeavour as well.

Meaning of the important words

 CanisterisationCanisterization typically refers to the process of packaging or storing items, typically goods or substances, in canisters or containers.
InterceptorIn aviation, an interceptor is a type of fighter aircraft designed to intercept and engage enemy aircraft, particularly bombers, before they can reach their targets.
Credible“Credible” refers to something that is believable, trustworthy, or reliable.
DeterrenceDeterrence refers to the strategy of preventing undesirable actions or behaviors by instilling fear of the consequences associated with those actions
 RetaliationRetaliation refers to the act of responding to an action or injury with a similar or corresponding action.
EspousedThe term “espoused” typically refers to something that is professed, claimed, or advocated by an individual or group
ArsenalThe term “arsenal” typically refers to a collection or stockpile of weapons and military equipment, often belonging to a particular military force, nation, or organization.
One-Upmanship “One-upmanship” is a term that refers to the practice of trying to outdo or surpass others, often in a competitive or boastful manner, in order to assert dominance or superiority.

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