India’s Missile program




  • India’s missile programme took a shot from space programme, beginning 1967.
  • In 1972, Rohini- a 560 two-stage, solid propulsion sounding rocket was developed and test fired
  • India first launched its small 17-tonne SLV-3 space booster in 1979
  • India successfully injected the 35 kg Rohini I satellite into near-earth orbit in 1980.
  • In 1987, an augmented booster, the 35-tonne ASLV had begun flight testing.
  • In 1983 a decisive shift took place in India’s missile program with the launch of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) The principal aim was to develop a family of strategic and tactical guided missiles based on local design and development for three defence services.

Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme

The Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) was conceived by renowned scientist DR.A P J Abdul Kalam to enable Indian Attain self-sufficiency in the filed of Missile Technology.


  • The Prithvi missile is a family of tactical surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missiles(SRBM) and is
  • India’s first indigenously developed ballistic missile.
  • it was first test-fired on 25 February 1988 from Sriharikota, SHAR Centre,
  • It has a range of up to 150 to 300 km.
  • The land variant is called Prithvi while the naval operational variant of Prithvi I and Prithvi II class missiles are code named Dhanush(meaning Bow).


Surface to surface intercontinetal ballistic missile.

Agni-I is a single stage, solid fuel, road and rail mobile, medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM) This shorter ranger missile is specially designed to strike targets in Pakistan.

Agni II is an operational version of Agni I and is an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) test-fired in April 1999.

The range for Agni II is more than 2000 km.

Agni III, an intermediate-range ballistic missile was developed by India as the successor to Agni II. Intended to be a two-stage ballistic missile capable of nuclear weapons delivery, it is touted as India’s nuclear deterrent against China. The missile is likely to support a wide range of warhead configurations, with a 3,500 km range and a total payload weight of 2490 kg.

Agni V, believed to be an upgraded version of the Agni III The inter-continental ballistic missile  have a range of about 5000-6000 km . Agni V will be able to carry multiple warheads and would also display countermeasures against anti-ballistic missile systems.


Trishul is the name of a short range surface-to-air missile developed by India as a part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program. It has a range of 9 km and is fitted with a 5.5 kg warhead. Designed to be used against low-level (sea skimming) targets at short range, the system has been developed to defend naval vessels against missiles and also as a short-range surface-to-air missile on land.


Akash is a medium range surface-to-air missile developed as part of India’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme to achieve self-sufficiency in the area of surface-to-air missiles. It is the most expensive missile project ever undertaken by the Union government in the 20th century.


Nag is India’s third generation “Fire-and-forget” anti-tank missile. It is an all weather, top attack missile with a range of 3 to 7 km.

Other Missiles

Significant additions also include

PINAKA– the Multi-Barrel Rocket System , an area weapon system to supplement the existing artillery gun at ranges beyond 30 km, having quick reaction time and high rate of fire has been accepted by the user after extensive trials.

BrahMos-  being jointly developed with Russia, is a supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land.

BrahMos is among the fastest supersonic cruise missiles in the world, at speeds ranging between Mach 2.5 to 2.8, being about three and a half times faster than the American subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile. Although BrahMos is primarily an anti-ship missile, it is also capable of engaging land-based targets.

Nirbhay- cruise missile  was announced in 2007—a subsonic missile with a range of 1000 km. Capable of being launched from multiple platforms on land, sea and air. Nirbhay will supplement BrahMos in the sense that it would enable delivery of warheads farther than the 300 km range of BrahMos.

In 2008, New Delhi announced the end of the IGMDP with the focus now shifting towards serial production of missiles developed under this programme.

Shaurya– a landbased variant of the K-15 Sagarika which can be stored in underground silos for longer time and can be launched using gas canisters as booster was successfully test-fired in November 2008. This nuclear-capable missile aims to enhance India’s second-strike Sagarika missile is being integrated with India’s nuclearpowered Arihant class submarine that began sea trials in July 2009.

Dhanush– which has been tested several times in recent years believed to be a short-range, sea-based, liquid-propellant ballistic missile—perhaps a naval variant of the Prithvi series, with a maximum range of approximately 300 km.

Air-to-air missile Astra– It is an air to air missile Beyond Range (BVR). This is the first indigenous air-to-air missile developed by India. The range of this missile is 80 km in head-on chase and 15 km in tail chase.

Ballistic Missile Defence system

Two interceptor missiles, the Prithivi air defence missile and the Advanced Air Defence (Ashwin) missile are designed to provide a high-low cover against incoming ballistic missiles. Prithivi is reported to be capable of intercepting missiles at exo-atmospheric altitudes of 50 – 80km, while the AAD is designed to operate at endo-atmospheric altitudes of upto 30kms.

It would be apposite to conclude by stating that India’s missile programme represents an iconic image demonstrating sovereignty and self-reliance vis-à-vis its technological achievements. Resultant of nearly three decades of research, India’s guided missile programme has assumed a self-sustaining character and become fundamentally crucial to New Delhi’s proposed minimal deterrent.

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