India could be ready in 2017 for initial testing of the next generation in its nuclear-capable Agni ballistic missile series, the Business Standard reported on Wednesday.
The Agni 6 is envisioned as having a range greater than the developmental Agni 5, which with a 3,100-mile top flight distance has a near-ICBM reach. The Indian Defense Research and Development Organization is not disclosing just how far the Agni 6 is being designed to fly.
"The timeframe for developing a new missile system is about five years and the DRDO has mostly achieved this in the Agni program," DRDO missile program head Avinash Chander said in an interview. As design of the Agni 6 began in 2012, it would likely not be until 2017 at the earliest before the missile is ready for flight trials, according to the report.
The missile has yet to be officially authorized by the government. After testing of the Agni 5 wraps up, the Defense Ministry is expected to give the go-ahead to the Agni 6 and provide financial support for the project. The Agni 6 is envisioned as being capable of carrying multiple independently targeted nuclear warheads.
"Our ballistic missiles must be compact and road mobile, even the Agni 6 with its heavy payload," Chander said.
Defense Research and Development Organization officials are preparing for the second flight trial in June of the Agni 5 under similar conditions as its first test in 2012. A third trial is planned before the year is over. "We will conduct at least five-six more Agni 5 tests before the missile enters operational service," Chander said.