June 10, 2012

(revised) Indian Ballistic Missile Development - Agni 3 and K-15

February 7, 2010. Agni 3 launch - above and below (watchout, this one is LOUD)

Some of India's missiles including the K-15 (Sagarika), its launcher and the Agni 3 (or III)
Background - This Space War article on India's ballistic missile history puts the February 7, 2010 Agni 3 test launch in perspective. This test is the latest milestone in India's Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP). The IGMDP theoretically closed down in 2007 but missile testing continues.
February 7 launch of Agni 3 - The Hindu, reports :

"The launch of Agni-III, the missile with the longest range in India’s arsenal, from the Wheeler Island off Orissa on Sunday was a complete success.

Lifting off majestically at 10.50 a.m., it travelled its entire range of 3,500 km. and came down accurately on its target in the Bay of Bengal.

During its 800-second flight, it reached an altitude of 350 km. and its re-entry module sliced into the atmosphere, withstanding searing temperatures of 3,000 deg. Celsius.

The two-stage, surface-to-surface ballistic missile can carry nuclear warheads.

The nuclear triggering mechanism worked well although the missile carried only chemical explosives as payload.

An elated V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, called it “a fantastic launch and a hat-trick.”

Talking to The Hindu from Wheeler Island, he said, “it shows the maturity of the missile’s design and the quality of its systems because we have had three successes in a row without any blemish.”

“The flight gave us the full range and pin-point accuracy. The missile travelled accurately its entire range to its last decimal place as we had planned. ”

As the nuclear-capable Agni-III missile zeroed in on the pre-designated target in the Bay of Bengal with copybook precision, anxiety turned into an all-round jubilation in the control room at Wheeler Island off the Orissa coast on Sunday.

...Dr. Saraswat congratulated the scientists for scoring a hat-trick of successes with Agni-III. He urged them to continue with their hard work and make a grand success of [the three stage] Agni-V, which is planned to be launched by the end of the year.

The Hindu, Febrary 5, 2010 earlier reported :

"The coming weeks/months will be hectic for the DRDO with one more launch of K-15 missile this month from a submerged pontoon off the coast of Visakhapatnam. The pontoon will simulate the conditions of a submarine. K-15 had been launched earlier from submerged pontoons, but this is a different version. The first version, called Mark-1, is being fitted into the indigenously built nuclear-powered submarine named Arihant.

After the K-15 missile clears the water medium, it climbs 20 km into the air and can destroy targets 700 km away. The missile forms part of the DRDO’s Sagarika project.

Shourya, which is the land-version of the underwater-launched K-15 missile, will have its second flight around June from the Integrated Test Range at Balasore, Orissa.

The fourth flight of India’s interceptor missile, which can knock out adversarial ballistic missiles at an altitude of 130 km, is scheduled for September.

The DRDO has already scored a hat-trick with three of its interceptor missiles confronting incoming “enemy” ballistic missiles in a “hit-to-kill” mode" "
The two stage Agni 3 is principally designed to hit some major Chinese cities out to 3,500 km - although this would be with a light nuclear payload. DRDO is working on a Submarine Launched Version of the Agni 3 missile, known as "K-X" which will provide India with a sea based second strike capability. The SLBM version is likely to be a miniaturized version of the Agni 3.
Agni 5 will be a three stage improved version of Agni 3 with a longer range (out to 5,000 km) and large 1,500 kg payload at that range. Agni 5, capable of hitting ALL of China's major cities, may be tested in a year. See this report on Agni 3 and 5 as well as India's BMD and ASAT programs.
The main role of K-15 (Sagarika) with a range of around 700km would be as a submarine launched second stike missile against Pakistan. It will not be until the K-X (a modified Agni 3) is developed that India will have a submarine missile with sufficient range for use against China.