India’s Missile System

India's missile arsenal today consists of several missiles of different ranges that includes ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, guided missiles, anti-tank missiles etc. The use of Rockets for military purposes in India dates back to 18th century. The Mysorean rockets used by Tipu Sultan where the first iron casted rockets that were successfully deployed for military use. However under the British, the Research and Development in India was restricted and India lagged in the development of Missile Systems.

The research in missile technology resumed after independence due to consistent and continued political backing to India's missile program. In 1982 the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme started with popular political support and bestowed under the leadership of doctor APJ Abdul Kalam. Some of the important missile systems developed by India include Agni, Prithvi, Trishul, Nag, Dhanush, Astra, Prahar etc.

Agni Missile Series

The Agni missile is a series of medium and Intercontinental range ballistic missiles developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), India. These are long ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Agni technology demonstrator, the first missile of the series was developed under the integrated guided missile development programme and was tested in 1989. The Agni series of missile comprises of 6 variants namely Agni-I, Agni-II, Agni-III, Agni-IV, Agni-V, and Agni-VI.


  • In 1989, two stage Agni Technology demonstrator was test-fired from the interim test range and Chandipur. It was a solid fuelled first stage missile Technology capable of carrying 1000 kg conventional payload or a nuclear warhead. This technology demonstrator later evolved into Agni 1 and Agni 2 missile.
  • Firstly, the two stage 2000 km range Agni 2 was developed and test fired in 1999. Agni 1 with a range of 700 was test fired in January 2002. Agni 1 is a one stage  ballistic missile having a range of 700 to 900 km and is capable of carrying 1000 kg conventional warhead or a nuclear warhead at a speed of 2.5 km/s.
  • It is rail and road mobile and is used by the Strategic Forces Command of the Indian Army. Agni 1 is less costly, simple, accurate and more mobile than Agni 2 missile.


  • Agni 2 is a two stage solid fuel medium range ballistic missile having a range of 2,000 to 2,500 km. It can carry 1000 kg conventional payload or a nuclear warhead.
  • Agni 2 has been inducted into India's military arsenal and it was successfully launched as training exercise by the Strategic Forces Command in August 2012.
  • Agni 2 missile is a part of India's “credible deterrence” against China and Pakistan. It can reach all of Pakistan and large parts of south and South Eastern China.



  • Agni 3 is the successor of Agni 2 and is a part of India's credible minimum deterrence and nuclear triad. It is a two stage solid fuelled missile having a range of 3500 to 5000 km which makes it possible to engage targets deep inside the neighbouring countries.
  • Agni 3 was inducted and the Indian armed forces in June 2011. It is capable of carrying 1.5 tons of conventional or nuclear warhead.
  • The Circular error probable (CEP) of Agni 3 missile is within 40m range that makes it most accurate ballistic missile of its range in the world. This makes Agni 3 capable of hitting strategic targets with smaller payloads to achieve the same level of lethality.


  • It is the fourth missile of Agni series having a range of 2500 km to 3700 km. It uses two stage solid propulsion system to carry conventional or nuclear warhead of 1000 kg.
  • It is also known as Agni 2 prime or Agni-IIA as it is an advanced version of Agni 2 with sophisticated and lighter materials with re-entry heat shield that provides it a better efficiency and higher range performance.
  • Agni 4 plugs the gap between Agni 2 and Agni 3. It was first test fired on 15th November 2011 from the wheeler Island, Orissa.


  • Agni 5 is the fifth missile of Agni series developed by DRDO. It is an Intercontinental Ballistic missile with a range of 5500 km to 5800 km. Agni 5 is the three stage intercontinental ballistic missile.
  • It has been developed primarily for enhancing the country's nuclear deterrence against China. Agni 5 makes India capable to strike targets across Asia and into Europe. Agni 5 has been designed for easy transportation by road through canister launch mobile systems.
  • Agni 5 with capability of carrying payloads with Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRV) is being concurrently developed. A second variant of Agni 5 missile can be used to inject satellites in the low Earth orbit of 600 to 800 km for restoring communication links if satellite constellations are attacked by the enemy.
  • Seven test launches of Agni 5 have been successfully conducted, the latest being on December 10, 2018.


  • It is an Intercontinental ballistic missile proposed to be developed by DRDO. It will be a three stage ballistic missile with Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) and Manoeuvrable Re-entry Vehicle (MaRV). Agni 6 is likely to have a strike range of 8000 to 10000 km.
  • The missile will be capable of being launched from submarines as well as from land. The missile is expected to have the capability to carry up to 10 MIRV warheads.

Prithvi Missile

Prithvi is a short range tactical surface to surface ballistic missile developed by DRDO. The Missile has been deployed by India's strategic forces command. Prithvi was the first missile developed under integrated guided missile development programme started in 1983. Prithvi missile series uses either liquid or both liquid and solid fuels and are capable of carrying conventional as well as nuclear warhead. Prithvi missile project has three variants for use by the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and the Indian Navy. The three variants variants of Prithvi missile series  that have been developed viz. Prithvi I, Prithvi II, Prithvi III.

Prithvi I

  • Prithvi 1 is a surface to surface ballistic missile capable of carrying up to 1000 kg of conventional or nuclear warhead having a range of 150 km. it can be launched from transporter erector launchers with an accuracy of 10 to 50 m.
  • Prithvi 1 uses a single stage, liquid propelled engine and was first test fired in 1988 and it officially entered into the Indian army in 1994.

Prithvi II

  • Prithvi 2 is a single stage liquid fuelled ballistic missile capable of carrying a Warhead of 500 kg up to a range of 250 km. The the first test of missile was conducted on 27th January 1996 and was inducted into India's strategic forces command in 2003.
  • The upgraded version of Prithvi 2 missile is expected to carry payload between 500 to 1000 kg with an increased range of 350 km.
  • The missile has high accuracy that it makes it capable to hit any targets effectively which makes it a battlefield weapon. The missile has the features to deceive the anti-ballistic missile.
  • In 2002, the management of this missile was shifted to the Indian Army from the Indian Air Force. The Indian Air Force still provides the target data.

Prithvi III

  • Prithvi 3 is a two stage solid fuelled surface to surface ballistic missile. The first stage of the missile is solid fuelled and the second stage is liquid fuelled.
  • It can carry 1000 kg warhead up to 350 km, and 500 kg warhead up to 600 km, and 250 kg warhead to 750 km. Dhanush is a customised version of Prithvi that has been certified for its seaworthiness.
  • The first test of Prithvi 3 was conducted in 2000 from INS Subhadra, Sukanya class Patrol vessel which was partially successful. In 2004, the full operational testing of Prithvi 3 missile was completed.

Trishul Missile

  • Trishul is a short range surface to air missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The Missile was developed as the part of integrated guided missile development program started in 1983. The development of this missile was completed in 1992.
  • The missile can be launched from ship to be used as an anti-sea skimmer against low flying attacking missiles. Trishul missile is powered by dual thrust propulsion stage using solid propellant and has a range of 9 km.
  • The Missile is capable of carrying 15 kg Warhead and can be used against skimmers with a fire control radar. Trishul missile was inducted by Indian Army and Indian Air Force in 1999.

Nag Missile

  • The Nag missile is a third generation fire and forget anti-tank missile developed by DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.
  • The missile is an all weather, top attack missile and is being manufactured by Bharat Dynamics Limited. The missile has a range of 3 to 7 km and has a single shot hit probability of 0.77.
  • Nag missile is capable of flying at a speed of 230m/s and can engage with both static and moving targets under all weather conditions. The missile is capable of operating both during the day and night.
  • The land version of this missile has a range of 4 km whereas helicopter launched Nag HELINA has a range of 7 km.
  • The helicopter launched version HELINA can be fired from Dhruv advanced light helicopter and HAL Rudra Attack helicopter.
  • On 8 August 2008, Nag missile was successfully test fired from Nag Missile Carrier (NAMCIA) at Pokhran, Rajasthan. In September 2016, missile cleared the final trials held by Indian Army to be used as indigenous anti tank weapon system and was ready to enter mass production.
  • In April 2018, the defence acquisition council headed by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman approved the procurement of Nag Missile system that includes around 300 Nag missiles and 25 Nag missile carrier vehicles.

Dhanush missile

  • Dhanush missile is a variant of surface to surface Prithvi 3 missile that has been developed for the Indian Navy. It is a ballistic missile capable of carrying 500 to 1000 kg of both conventional and nuclear warhead.
  • The missile has a length of 8.53 metres and a width of 0.9 metres . Dhanush missile system has a range of 350 km. The missile is capable of being used as an anti-ship weapon and also for destroying the land targets.
  • The first successful test of Dhanush missile was conducted on 5th October 2012. On 23 February 2018, a successful user trial of Dhanush missile from a Naval ship was conducted by the strategic forces command from the Odisha coast.

Astra missile

  • Astra is a beyond visual range air to air missile developed by DRDO. It is an all weather missile and the first air to air missile developed in India.
  • The missile is capable of increasing targets at a wearing range and altitude that allows it to engage at both short-range targets at a distance of 20 km and long range targets up to 80 kilometres.
  • The missile has been integrated with Sukhoi 30 MKI, the aircraft operated by Indian Air Force.  The missile has been proposed to be integrated with aircrafts like Mig 29 and Mirage 2000 in future.
  • The development of Astra missile began in 1990 and was redesigned in 2006 to improve its performance. The final development price of Astra missile was completed in September 2017 and was cleared for production by the Bharat dynamics Limited with an initial order of 50 missiles.
  • Astra missile is capable of course correction through a Secure data link. It is equipped with electronic counter-countermeasures that makes it capable to operate even if the enemy attempts to destroy the seeker using electronic countermeasures.
  • Astra missile uses solid fuel motor that provides the missile a speed of Mach 4.5 and makes it operational from a maximum altitude of 20 km. The low aspect ratio wings allow it to engage maneuvering targets. The missile is capable of locking targets before or after its launch.

Prahaar Missile

  • Prahar is a solid fuelled tactical ballistic missile developed by DRDO . Prahaar missile can be launched from Road mobile system and is expected to replace the Prithvi 1 short range ballistic missile.
  • Prahaar missile has been developed for providing cost effective, quick reaction, all weather, highly accurate battlefield support technical weapon system. Prahaar missile can be launched within 2 to 3 minutes and it does not require any preparation which provides it better reaction time than liquid fuelled Prithvi missiles.
  • The missile fulfills the requirement of Indian Army of short range tactical battlefield missile to take out strategic and tactical targets.
  • The first test of Prahaar missile was successfully conducted on July 21, 2011 from the test range at Chandipur. The second test of this missile was conducted on September 20, 2018 from ITI, Chandipur.
  • The export variant of this missile system is Pragati surface to surface missile and has higher range of 170 km.

Shaurya missile

  • Shaurya missile is a hypersonic surface to surface tactical missile developed by DRDO for the Indian armed forces. It is canister launched missile and has a range of 700 km. The missile is capable of carrying 1000 kg of conventional or nuclear warhead that makes it capable to strike in the short intermediate-range against any target.
  • Shaurya missile can reach a velocity of Mach 5 to Mach 7.5. The two stage Shaurya missile is highly maneuverable which makes it less vulnerable against missile defence systems.
  • This missile was revealed to be designed specifically to be launched from submarines. After takeoff and reaching a height of 50 km, the missile starts moving forward like a hypersonic cruise missile and on reaching the target area, the missile manoeuvres and strikes the target with an accuracy of 20 to 30 M.

Nirbhay missile

  • Nirbhay is a long range, all weather subsonic cruise missile developed by DRDO. The missile is capable of being launched from multiple platforms and can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads.
  • Nirbhay missile will have loitering capability and the missile will go round a target performing several manoeuvres and then will be engaged in the target to destroy it. The Missile will act as supplement to the Brahmos missile for targets beyond the range of Brahmos.
  • The first trial of the surface version of Nirbhay missile was conducted on March 12, 2013 from ITR Chandipur. The test was a partial success.
  • The second test of the missile was conducted on October 17 2014 from ITR Chandipur. The test was successful and met all the parameters and completed all 15 waypoints. The third and 4th trial of the Missile were not successful due to various reasons.
  • The fifth trial of the missile was conducted on November 7, 2017 from ITR Chandipur. The test was successful and met all the mission objectives. Currently, the Missile has not entered production phase and is undergoing flight trials.

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