A-5’s ballistic apogee

In the wake of the second Agni-5 launch, DRDO chief Avinash Chander confidently averred that India had an ICBM capability. On what basis did he assert this? Experts see it this way: the first stage fired for 90 seconds, getting the missile to 40 kms, the second stage separated at the 155 second stage, getting the A-5 to 110 kms altitude, and the third stage separated after firing for the next approx 135 seconds to reach the missile into space and outside of the earth’s pull, with the built-up momentum taking the A-5 to its ballistic apogee of around 600 kms, and achieving reentry speed of around 6-7 kms per second. Such an altitude was required to depress its 8,000 km lateral range to around 5,500 kms, and is commonly reached by ICBMs, such as the Russian Topol-M, flying depressed trajectories.

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.
This entry was posted in Asian geopolitics, Cyber & Space, Defence Industry, DRDO, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's strategic thinking and policy, Missiles, russian military, South Asia. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A-5’s ballistic apogee

  1. RV says:

    IMHO a higher (say, 600 km+) ballistic apogee does not necessarily equate to depressing the lateral range. Energy bleeding maneuvers are/may be efficiently employed to reduce the range. Since the Topol-M is discussed, many tests have had a ballistic apogee of around 1000 kms. For example, tests of the Topol M (max. range ~ 11,000 kms.) to defeat ABM’s with an evasive payload delivery system resulting in multiple warheads impacting on target around 5,500 kms. down range in the Kura Test Range in the Kamchatka Peninsula (launch site: Plestek Complex), acquired a ballistic apogee of around 1000 kms. The maximum ballistic apogee for ICBM’s is around 1200 kms.

  2. Garg says:

    There is a huge difference between a ‘test’ and a ‘capability’. In military terms, India will have a sufficient deterrent against China when it has around 100 ‘survivable’ nuclear tipped missile of Agni-5 type.

    The question to be asked is – how many Agni missiles are deployed? Deployment means missiles mounted on TELs, stored in super-hardened sites, preset with target data and a defined firing plan with trained operators.

  3. A depressed trajectory is a flatter non ballistic trajectory.
    The second Agni-V test was planned to be a mid-range or lowest-range test, after the full range first test. This is corroborated by trajectory figures reported by the press, specifically BS, which differ slightly from the trajectory figures released after the first test.

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