The recent successful test of Agni-P missile marks a new step for India in the ballistic missile arena.

On October 21, 2022, the Agni-P was successfully tested for the third time to achieve maximum range. This marks the end of the development phase and the entry into the mass production phase. With this great success, India has been recognized as a remarkable country in the field of military science, which has changed the map of strategic weapons of the world as well as reflected the ongoing change of the global political and economic balance.

Agni-P or Agni-Prime is a medium-range ballistic missile being developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as a successor for Agni-I and Agni-II missiles in the operational service of Strategic Forces Command with significant upgrades in the form of composite motor casing, maneuverable reentry vehicle along with improved propellants, navigation and guidance systems.

The Agni-P has a maximum range of 2,000 km. Significantly, it weighs 50 per cent less than the Agni 3 missile and has new guidance and propulsion systems. In addition, since it is canisterised, it can be launched from rail or road, be stored for longer periods and can be transported as per operational requirements.

India started working on area denial weapons after China developed DF-21D and DF-26B with nuclear capability to counter US Navy which brought Naval Base Guam within its reach. As a counterbalance, the progress of Agni-P became crucial part of India’s Indo-Pacific strategy to tackle China’s plan of having five or six aircraft carrier battle groups by 2035 to cover both Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean with access to future overseas logistical bases around the region such as the one it currently has in Djibouti.

The Agni-P missile with maneuverable reentry vehicle (MaRV) capability that delivered the warheads into two separate locations. The missile carries four delta fins for the terminal phase of the flight to avoid missile defense system. The missile carries an improved guidance package and propulsion system covering maximum distance of 2000 km with 1.5 ton payload.

According to analysts, Agni-P is primarily aimed at countering Pakistan’s forces owing to the fact that its range is insufficient to reach all parts of mainland China. Although there were many speculations that Agni-P will replace Prithvi-I, Agni-I and Agni-II after induction, government sources denied any such theory. It is expected that DRDO might develop a “carrier killer” based on this missile. One of the objectives behind its development is to achieve maximum manoeuvrability against missile defense system and higher accuracy for precision strike.

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