The Agni literally meaning fire in Hindi and Sanskrit is the name given to the family of medium to long range missiles. Agni range has even been extended to included Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). They have been developed under the IGMD program.
Agni is also famously associated with the former President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam who played a very instrumental role in the IGMD program and Agni was his pet project.
Currently the Agni missile family comprises three deployed variants:
- Agni-I Medium range ballistic missile, 1500 – 1700 km range.
- Agni-II intermediate range ballistic missile, 2,000- 2,500 km range.
- Agni-II Prime 2,500- 3,000 km range.
- Agni-III intermediate range ballistic missile, 3,000 – 5,500 km range.
- There will not be an Agni-IV missile, with DRDO leapfrogging from intermediate range Agni-III to a standard ICBM possibly.
- Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile, 5000 km range (under development).
- Agni-VI intercontinental ballistic missile, 6000 km range (under development.
A very significant fallout of the vast Agni program have been the path breaking technological advancements. For instance here is once such innovation:
In May 2008 Indian scientists announced they had developed and patented a path-breaking technology that increases the range of missiles and satellite launch vehicles by at least 40%. The enhanced range is made possible by adding a special-purpose coating of chromium based material to a rocket’s blunt nose cone. The material acts as a reactive-ablative coating that forms a thin low density gaseous layer at the tip of the rocket as it approaches hypersonic speeds; this super-heated gas layer reduces drag by 47% (at mach 7-8), thereby allowing range enhancements at least 40%. It has been announced that this technology will be incorporated in future Agni deployments after having undergone ranging and calibration tests.