Responding to my earlier blog on the advanced chip-embedded guidance system successfuly tested on Agni-V, an expert at the cutting edge of these technologies emailed me the following. It will flesh out the understanding of interested readers so I’m copying it here:

“With regards to your latest article, the “fly-by-wire” concept in the A-5 comes from digitally connected multi-channel communications within its body for the control system, thereby reducing a lot of the cabling that would have otherwise gone into these missiles. This serves to reduce the risk of failure in the missile system and increases dependability.

“With regards to the embedding of the guidance system on chip (SOC), which enables the A-5 to possess superior accuracy, there is indeed an on-board computer on the A-5, which is more powerful than any used in previous vehicles. However, previous computers had severe weight, space, and cooling constraints. The guidance SOC based computers that weigh just 200 grams and possess around 7-10 times greater processing power than their predecessors. **The embedded guidance SOC concept requires very little power, imposes much less space constraints, requires far less cooling, and, also very importantly, is not only more reliable and efficient, but also allows for far greater flexibility when choosing the warhead configuration.”**

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About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.

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Dr. Karnad, Sir, I have read your superb book on India’s Nuclear Policy published in 2008.

However, I cannot recall any reference to the production rate as being 19 Agnis per year. If it would not be a problem, can you provide a page reference ?

Given that rate, assuming this amounts to about 6 of each of 3 models of Agni per year and given that full production of the Agni-1 and Agni-2 started in about 2003 and Agni-3 (if this has started at all) in about 2009, then wouldn’t the total strength look something like this:

48 Agni-1, 48 Agni-2 and 12 Agni-3

Is this realistic ?

Also, in respect of your very interesting post on the missile bamboozle – which was really an eye opener – what is your estimate on the range of the Agni-V in its current form given the trajectory used was clearly done to simulate a longer range ?

Appreciating your response and your coverage of the Agni-V test

With best regards

Sanjay

I know I have mentioned 19 as the Agni production figure somewhere in my writings. I suspect it is in my ‘India’s Nuclear Policy’. (Pls sift through my chapter on missiles in the book, it will spare me the time that I am putting to finish my next book — ‘India’s Rise’ to be published by Potomac Books, in Washington DC (formerly Brassey’s). That was 2008. Since then the pruduction rate may have been upped, by how much is hard to say but still nowhere enough to act as credible deterrent against China. But the speculatrive breakup on Agni 1 & 2 production seem about right. Time, Agni-3s and 4s, and soon 5s are accorded priority.

If the missile travels for 1 hour it will be off by 0.001 degrees. If it travels 90 degrees north in one hour it will be at 90.001 degrees or 89.999 degrees.In 20 minutes it travel 5000 km. Therefore assuming In 60 minutes it travels 15000km. (A horrible approximation for a parabolic trajectory of 15000km, but one none the less to calculate the CEP). In 20 minutes of travel to 90 degrees north you will be off by 0.001/3.

So CEP at 5000km is 1.7 meters assuming it takes 20 minutes to travel 5000km.

tan(.001 / 3) x 5000 = 1.66666673 meters.

http://upload.cdfreaks.com/seanbyrne/forum/sean_dish.jpg + a roti from the circumference is the error at 5000km!

http://upload.cdfreaks.com/seanbyrne…/sean_dish.jpg. Agni V will hit within the 1.6m dish after travelling 5000 kms if that’s the target. If you are pedantic the missile will most likely hit the dish or at worst miss the dish by 10 cm or by a round roti (made at home) from the edge of the dish!!!

Error at 15000km is less than 20 meters assuming it takes an hour to travel 15000km. (It a horrible assumption on travel time to assume it will take thrice as long to reach 15000km but even then that’s a very respectable error.)

If we extrapolate the same to ASAT we can hit a satellite presenting an area of .47 x .47 meters at 1400km assuming it takes 20 minutes to reach the satellite. That’s twice the time taken by Agni V to complete it’s 5000km run. It can hit a satellite presenting an area of .35 x .35 meters at 1000km again assuming it takes 20 minutes to reach the satellite. The .47 x .47 is smaller than the ku band dishes used by dish tv, tatasky and airtel. This makes the ASAT capable of taking out even the nanoeye sized satellites with a kinetic kill!!! Stunning.

Correction the Asat hit will be within .7 meters circumference at 1000km or 1 meter circumference at 1400km. It’s still the size of a dish tv, tata sky or airtel ku band DTH dish!!!

er it should read diameter not circumference in the correction. Just a bit too messy with the names.

Please moderate out the earlier comments on accuracy. The calculations produce an accuracy of 1.6km. Either the reporter missed a couple of zeros or we don’t have ASAT capability yet.

If the figures given are correct, using cosine to arrive at actual distance traveled. The figures are much better. It will amount to the same dish antennas being taken out. I will send a clearer comment once I re-check the calculations. I request you to keep these comments out of the webpage for now.

5 000 – (cos(.001 / 3) x 5 000) = 0.000277777775 km or 2.7 meters.

1 000 – (cos(.001 / 3) x 1 000) = 5.5555555 × 10-5 km or 0.00005 meters.

15 000 – (cos(.001) x 15 000) = 0.00749999937 km or 7.4 meters at 15000 km assuming it takes an hour to reach there which isn’t a realistic time but a crude approximation with lots of extra time.

Thanks for your reply. It is much appreciated. For the record, I re-read India’s Nuclear Policy again (it was very good indeed) but still could not find a reference to the 19 per year.

In terms of nuclear warheads what is your estimate of the operational or available Indian stockpile?

In India’s Nuclear Policy you suggested that by 2010-2012 that the stockpile would be 200. Has that been achieved and if not how far off are we ?

Thanks again.

Sanjay

Possibly, the 19/year figure was mentioned in some other paper, or something. Once I’m through writing my next and last book, will try and find you the exact reference. Re: the 200 missiles guesstimate, I believe we are near to achieveing it.

Thanks again. Please give us a heads up on your latest book so that we might buy it.

As an aside, what is your estimate of the actual Agni-5 range ?

Actual Agni-5 range. the figure one hears is 8,000 kms.

Once again – thanks a lot.

8000 kms with 1.5 ton payload ? Also, will the future ICBM (if it materializes) be a modification of Agni-5 with a composite 1st stage or will it be the 130-150 ton missile you referred to in one of your books ?

ICBM with a composite first stage.

One wonders at the info being casually passed to and fro on an open page

No bad thing for the world to know some basic attributes of our Agni missiles. Keeping everything secret doesn’t help in deterrence.