Agni Prime: DRDO's latest ballistic missile is short in size yet powerful

India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flight-tested a new generation nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni-P also known as 'Agni Prime'. Agni-Prime is an advanced version of Agni-1 missile. The Agni-P is viewed as a China specific missile.

Various telemetry and radar stations positioned along the eastern coast tracked had monitored the missile. The missile followed a textbook trajectory, meeting all mission objectives with the high level of accuracy. Agni-P is a new generation advanced variant of Agni class of missiles. It is a cannisterised missile with range capability between 1,000 and 2,000 km.

It can hit targets up to a range of 2,000 km, and is very short and light in comparison (the missile is fully made up of composite materials) with other missiles in this class. A lot of new technologies has been incorporated in the new missile.


Agni-P is a derivative of the highly successful Agni family of nuclear capable ballistic missiles. It has a highly fine tuned navigation attack system. This missile can be stored for longer periods and is highly flexible in deployment since its cannisterised, the missile also needs far less maintenance making it a very potent weapon system. It is assumed that DRDO will require just 2 or 3 more tests to make it fully operational.

The other significant feature of the missile is its low weight, hence the missile can be configured to be integrated on Indian Navy warships as an Anti-Ship attack weapon. 

Chinese Capabilities

China as we know has immense anti-ship missile capability and boasts the widest inventory of ballistic and cruise missiles in the world. As per a JAPCC report, China has the most active and diverse missile development program in the world. China’s current Medium Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM), the conventional DF-21D, entered service in 2006, and has a range of approximately 1,500 km, as well as a manoeuvring warhead. In 2016, China announced it had successfully test-launched 10 DF-21Cs as a show of military might. China’s next anti-ship ballistic missile will likely be a variant of the DF-26 Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM), with a reported range of 3,000–4,000 km, and a nuclear option. In addition to surface and land-launched anti-ship missiles, aircraft will also be capable of launching ASCMs and Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles (ASBMs), enabling a launch point thousands of kilometres from China targeting India.

Agni-P with its high level of accuracy can act as a possible deterrent against Chinese adventurism in the Indian Ocean region with the help of broad-area maritime surveillance and targeting systems. However, providing accurate coordinates for a target at long ranges is currently very difficult; but, with future 5th generation platforms and other targeting sensors, one can assume India will very soon have very long-range, anti-ship capabilities.

Indian defence forces are looking to quickly bolster their capabilities, with strategic weapons such as ballistic missiles being seen as a key component of conflict deterrence.

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