It is imperative for the GOI to manufacture and deploy Agni-V in thousands to combat China’s nuclear warfare stock, writes Jay Desai.

On 27 October 2021 the Indian Strategic Forces Command test fired Agni-V. Agni-V is capable to strike the whole of China. Right now India’s small nuclear arsenal includes this nuclear weapon Agni-V. Agni-V is the best among all the nuclear missiles developed by India till now. But during a full scale war will it really bring China to its knees? Yield to weight ratio (YWR) is the comparison of delivery vehicle and on its top the warhead, once this warhead detonates then determining the release of energy with respect to the weight of the missile.

The maximum YWR has been achieved in thermonuclear bomb that is 6 megaton. If MIRV is not used and it is a single warhead, then the amount of energy released will be gigantic, so yield to weight ratio will be higher. But when smaller warheads (MIRV) are used in place of a single warhead then it reduces the yield to blast ratio because the power of destruction attained from smaller warheads gets converted from megaton to kiloton. When the ratio of this is found with respect to weight of the missile then one gets a reduced number.

The warhead in Agni-V is between 200 to 500 kiloton, when one talks of destruction attained through the warhead then what is measured and if it comes out to be true when the thermonuclear bomb detonates then in radius of 3 kilometers everything will be finished. While the radiation and shock wave would go at least 10 kilometers far. The capacity to carry a 1.5 tons warhead in Agni-V is present; if it is arranged in the form of MIRV it will increase the blast radius and impact area. This is because if we go back in history then what was detonated at Nagasaki; everything was finished in 60 kilometers.

Among other missiles the Chinese thermonuclear weapon DF-4 covers the whole of India. DF-4 has a warhead of 3.3 megaton. So these Chinese missiles carry higher warhead because the Chinese have done a lot of physical nuclear tests as compared to India. While India tested the thermonuclear device only once in May 1998.

Officially India claimed that it has attained the thermonuclear bomb after the May 1998 nuclear test. It was only 7% to 20% of its design yield, that is not good enough for thermonuclear. So a kind of thermonuclear bomb was attained by India that might be used in Agni-V in order to boost fission.

The warhead in Agni-V is a fusion booster fission warhead. A thermonuclear bomb of the Agni-V is following thermonuclear process but it is still not the real thermonuclear bomb because the primary function in this is of fission and to boost fission (or increase yield power) the fusion is being used. On the other hand real thermonuclear bombs have plutonium core based hydrogen fuel, in such bombs the process of fusion and energy generated from it is higher as compared to fission.

In Agni-V the majority of energy will be gained from fission (if such a warhead is installed) while a very small quantity of energy will be attained from fusion of neutrons that would increase the chain reaction. Since June 1998 the Government of India (GOI) is not doing nuclear test for different designs of the thermonuclear device in order to develop it similar to the Chinese might. This makes it highly imperative for the GOI to manufacture and deploy very large numbers of Agni-V in thousands because China will be having 1000 nuclear weapons by 2030.

Right now China has 200 nuclear weapons, which is not very far from where India is at 150. Yes the nuclear build-up of China is due to the USA but India cannot view things with complacency even if the Chinese Government does not mention the word nuclear. This is because as CDS Rawat had said in November 2021 that China is India’s enemy number one.

We must remember that China has thrice till now created a war like situation. First in 1962 (that led to China starting a one month war), second in Arunachal Pradesh from 1986-1993 and third is the continuing Ladakh Standoff. So GOI cannot trust the Chinese because after 18 meetings since 2014 between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping in which a lot of positive optics in the form of differences not becoming dispute, trade etc were put out in public domain, still the PLA created a war like situation since 5 May 2020 on the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh!