MIRV technology used in Agni-5 missile

News Excerpt:

Recently, DRDO conducted the first successful flight test of an indigenously developed Agni-5 missile with Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle ( MIRV) technology.

Agni-5 missiles:

  • Agni is a long-range missile developed indigenously by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). 
  • The family of Agni missiles has been in the arsenal of the Indian armed forces since the early 1990s. 
  • This latest variant of the missile is equipped with what is known as MIRV (Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle) technology, first developed at least five decades ago but in possession of only a handful of countries.
  • Agni-5 has been successfully tested multiple times since 2012. 
    • Last time, in December 2022, a successful flight test of Agni-5 was undertaken off the coast of Odisha.

About Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) technology:

  • MIRVs were originally developed in the early 1960s to allow a single missile to carry multiple nuclear warheads, each capable of striking different targets independently.
  • The inception of MIRV technology was done by the United States by deploying a MIRVed Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) in 1970 and a MIRVed Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) in 1971.
  • MIRV technology requires the combination of large missiles, small warheads, accurate guidance, and a complex mechanism for releasing warheads sequentially during flight.
  • MIRVs permit a missile to deploy multiple nuclear warheads to different targets in contrast to a traditional missile that carries one warhead. This strengthens the country’s strategic deterrence capability.
  • The warheads on these missiles can be released at different speeds and directions. 
    • Some MIRVed missiles can hit targets as far as 1,500 kilometres apart.
  • Currently, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and India are among the nations that possess the MIRV technology. 
    • Pakistan is also on the path to developing MIRV capabilities.

Working of MIRV: 

  • Launch: A MIRV equipped missile is launched and follows a ballistic trajectory into space, similar to any other ballistic missile.
  • Post-boost phase: After the boost phase, the missile’s upper stage, known as the bus, reaches a suborbital spaceflight. 
    • In this phase, the bus maneuvers and aligns itself based on the designated targets.
  • Deployment: The bus sequentially deploys multiple warheads along with decoys and countermeasures. Each warhead can be assigned a different trajectory and target.
  • Re-entry and Impact: The warhead re-enter the earth’s atmosphere independently and proceed to their respective targets.

Challenges and considerations:

  • Miniaturisation of warheads 
  • Development of advanced guidance systems
  • Ensuring the reliability of individual re-entry vehicles


The successful test of the Agni-5 missile with MIRV technology underscores India's advancements in strategic deterrence. This development highlights India's commitment to bolstering its defense capabilities through indigenous innovation and technological prowess, while also emphasizing the importance of maintaining strategic stability in the region.

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