Agni-5 ballistic missile successfully tested in India: Basics Explained

Agni-5 ballistic missile, with a 5,000-km long-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile, was successfully tested in India in late October; can carry a warhead of around 1,500 kg and has a launch weight of 50,000 kg, making it one of the most potent missiles in the country.

The nuclear-capable missile is India’s contender for the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Agni 5 agile is that it is a “canisterised” missile. It means that the missile can be launched from road and rail platforms, making it easier for it to be deployed and launched at a quicker pace. The canisterisation, which is an encapsulated system in which the missile is stored and launched, also gives the missile a longer shelf life, protecting it from harsher climatic conditions.


A ballistic missile can be launched from land, from a silo, from mobile platforms on trucks or trains, from submarine or ship, or from an airplane. After launch, a ballistic missile arches up from one point, and lands at another point. All rockets, from fireworks to massive space launchers, carry both fuel and some form of oxygen. Because they do not burn oxygen from the air, ballistic missiles can fly beyond the earth’s atmosphere. A missile is called ballistic because, just as one would throw a ball or spear, the rocket’s engine gives the missile an initial push, after which its flight is affected only by gravity. Ballistic missiles do not fly. They go up, and they come down.

Ballistic missiles are not to be confused with cruise missiles. The former are unmanned projectiles; the latter are pilotless airplanes, either remote-controlled or pre-programmed. They fly through the air, and only through the air. The engines of cruise missiles, like those of aircraft, burn oxygen from the air.


Hypersonic flight is one of the four speeds of flight. They are called the regimes of flight. The regimes of flight are subsonic, transonic, supersonic, and hypersonic.

                 Vehicles that fly at hypersonic speeds are flying at six times the speed of sound. The speed of sound is about 768 miles per hour (1,236 kilometers per hour) at sea level. These speeds are referred to by Mach numbers. The Mach number is the ratio of the speed of the aircraft to the speed of sound. The flight that is faster than Mach 6 is hypersonic.


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