Agni-3 test launch (cropped).jpg
21 September 2012 Agni-III missile test
TypeIntermediate-range ballistic missile
Place of originIndia
Service history
In serviceActive[1]
Used byStrategic Forces Command
Production history
DesignerDefence Research and Development Organisation
ManufacturerBharat Dynamics Limited
Unit cost250 million (US$3 million) – 350 million (US$5 million)[2]
Mass50,000 kg[3]
Length17 m[4]
Diameter2.0 m[4]
WarheadConventional, thermobaric, nuclear

EngineMulti-stage solid-propellant
PropellantHydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene[5]
3,000 km – 5,000 km[6]
Flight altitude> 450 km[7]
Maximum speed 15 Mach
5–6 km/s[8]
Flex-nozzle thrust vectoring (first and second stage)[5]
Accuracy40 m CEP[9]

The Agni-III (IAST: Agni, lit.'Fire') is an Indian intermediate-range ballistic missile inducted into service in 2011 as the successor of the Agni-II.[6] It has a range of 3,000 to 5,000 kilometres (1,900 to 3,100 mi) and can reach targets deep inside neighbouring countries including China.[10][11]


India's credible minimum deterrence envisaged a nuclear triad of counter-strike capability which required a long-range missile to provide robust second strike capability. India developed a larger missile, with a heavier payload and longer range in a compact configuration. Driven by the need for retaliation to defeat emerging anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defence and countermeasures, this capability requires a compact missile which can carry ABM payloads and weapons in a configuration similar to a MIRV.


Indian Army with Agni-III missile during the Indian Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2009.

The Agni-III was developed as the successor to the Agni-II.[6] Designed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Agni-III is a two-stage ballistic missile capable of nuclear weapons delivery. DRDO formed a separate propulsion plant in September 2001 to develop large-sized solid-propellant rocket engines, including the infrastructure for propellant casting. The stubby, two-stage solid-fuel missile is compact enough for easy mobility and flexible deployment on a number of surface and sub-surface platforms.[12]

The missile is equipped with sophisticated navigation, guidance and control systems and advanced on-board computer systems. The electronic systems are designed to withstand greater vibration, heat and noise. A high-performance, indigenous ring laser gyro-based inertial navigation system was flight-tested for the first time on 7 Feb 2010.[13]

The two stages of Agni-III has an overall diameter of 2 metres (6 ft 7 in). Initially, The mass of first-stage is about 32 tonnes and 7.7 metres (25 ft) long, and 10 tonnes and 3.3 metres (11 ft) long for second stage. The missile was expected to support a wide range of warhead configurations, with a 4,500-kilometre (2,800 mi) range and a total payload weight of 2,490 kilograms (5,490 lb).[6] The ground support system and launcher are developed by Research & Development Establishment (Engineers).[14]

The circular error probable (CEP) of Agni-III is within 40 metres (130 ft).[15] The US Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center estimated that in June 2017, fewer than 10 launchers had been deployed.[16]


The Agni-III has two solid-fuelled stages and an overall diameter of 2 metres (6 ft 7 in), compatible with an Indian sub-surface launch system which has a 2.3-metre-diameter (7.5 ft) launch-tube aperture. The first-stage booster weighs around 32 tonne and is made of advanced carbon-composite materials to provide high payload fraction (mass fraction). It is 7.7 metres (25 ft) long; the second stage weighs around 11 tonne, made of maraging steel, is 3.3 metres (11 ft) long and has vectoring nozzles for flight-trajectory control.[17]

Flight tests

Rocket launch
The Agni-III was successfully launched from Wheeler Island on 7 May 2008.

The first test of the Agni-III was conducted on Abdul Kalam Island (then known as Wheeler Island), near the Bhadrak coast, on 9 July 2006.[6] The launch was unsuccessful; the missile fell into the sea off the coast of Odisha, short of the target. According to the Defence Research and Development Organisation, the failure was due to a first-stage anomaly of recirculating hot gases which entered the missile-base shroud and damaged electronic components.[18] Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee called it a "partial success" (a euphemism indicating that the test generated useful data for diagnosis and correction), since the missile was air-borne for five minutes instead of the expected 15.[19]

Agni-III was successfully test-fired on 12 April 2007 from Abdul Kalam Island, off the coast of Odisha. India's Cabinet Committee on Security announced,[20] "This test confirms the extent of India's nuclear reach and India's nuclear deterrence as the missile can accurately hit targets at distance more than 3000 km away".[21] The Agni-III is the most powerful and capable of India's missile inventory; capable of carrying a variety of warheads (including nuclear warheads), it can be launched from a number of platforms and extends India's regional power projection.[22][23]

The missile was again test-fired successfully on 7 May 2008.[24] After a flight of about 15 minutes, defence scientists confirmed that the test was successful and the missile met all requirements. With a velocity of 5,000 meters per second, the Agni-III has a range of 3,500 kilometres (2,200 mi); new navigation software will increase the missile's accuracy and

lethality.[25] The successful 2008 test opened the door for the next-generation Indian ICBM Agni V, with a 5,000-to-6,000-kilometre (3,100 to 3,700 mi) range.[26] The Agni-III's development test was postponed for unknown reasons in August 2009.[citation needed]

Colour-coded world map
Agni series missile range

It was again tested successfully on Abdul Kalam Island in Odisha on 7 February 2010. The missile hit the target accurately (witnessed by two ships near the target), and met all mission objectives.[27] Supporting a range of warhead configurations, the Agni-III has a total payload weight of 2,490 kilograms (5,490 lb).[7] The two-stage, solid-fuel missile is small enough for easy mobility and flexible deployment from a number of surface and sub-surface platforms. The test validated its nuclear-triggering mechanism, indicating that the Agni-III is intended for strategic nuclear deterrence.[7] The test launch was part of the missile's pre-induction into the Indian Army.[28]

India's defence minister announced in August of that year that the Agni-III was ready for induction into the country's armed forces,[29] and its induction was reported in June 2011.[30] In September 2012, it was reported that a missile group of Agni-IIIs was being raised.[31]

On 21 September of that year, the Strategic Forces Command successfully test-fired an Agni III missile from a rail mobile launcher.[32] The missile was again successfully tested on 23 December 2013,[33] on 16 April 2015,[34] and on 27 April 2017.[35][36]

On 30 November 2019, the missile's first night trial was conducted. The test reportedly failed, with the missile beginning to diverge from its planned flight trajectory after 115 kilometres (71 mi) and mission control aborting the flight. A manufacturing defect was thought to be a possible cause of the failure.[37]


  1. ^ Subramanian, T.S. (2006). "Agni-V next". Frontline, The Hindu. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  2. ^ "Technical tune to Agni test before talks". The Telegraph. Calcutta, India. 30 August 2004. Archived from the original on 11 December 2007. Retrieved 13 December 2007.
  3. ^ "India successfully test fires nuclear-capable Agni III ballistic missile". The Indian Express. Press Trust of India. 16 April 2015.
  4. ^ a b "India tests long-range nuclear-capable Agni-III missile". Yahoo News. Archived from the original on 9 February 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  5. ^ a b Brügge, Norbert. "India's solid-fuel ballistic missile-family "Agni"". Presentation of Space Launch Vehicles. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Agni-III test fired by India". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 13 July 2006. Retrieved 9 July 2006.
  7. ^ a b c Subramanian, T. S. (7 February 2010). "AGNI-III test-fired successfully". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  8. ^ Vishwakarma, Arun (1 July 2007). "Indian Long Range Strategic Missiles" (PDF). Lancer Publishers and Distributors. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 November 2007. Retrieved 13 December 2007.
  9. ^ a b "Agni-3". Missile Threat.
  10. ^ "Agni-3". MissileThreat. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  11. ^ "Agni – India Missile Special Weapons Deilivery System". Federation of American Scientists. Archived from the original on 16 April 2009. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  12. ^ "New kid on the nuclear block". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 18 November 2011. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  13. ^ PTI (7 February 2015). "Nuclear-capable Agni-III missile successfully tested". Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  14. ^ "Ground Support System for Missile Programme". DRDO. Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  15. ^ "Successful Agni-III missile tests provide India with a credible deterrent, boost for DRDO". Archived from the original on 14 February 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  16. ^ Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat (Report). Defense Intelligence Ballistic Missile Analysis Committee. June 2017. p. 25. NASIC-1031-0985-17. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  17. ^ "Agni Ballistic Missile System". Army Technology. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  18. ^ T.S. Subramanian. "Next objective: a 5,000-km Agni". Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 21 April 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  19. ^ "Indian missile test 'was failure'". BBC. 10 July 2006.
  20. ^ "Agni test fired successfully". IBN Live. Archived from the original on 15 May 2007. Retrieved 14 May 2007.
  21. ^ "Agni iii launched successfully". Govt. of India. Retrieved 14 May 2007.
  22. ^ Arun Vishwakarma. "AGNI – Strategic Ballistic Missile". Archived from the original on 10 April 2007. Retrieved 14 May 2007.
  23. ^ Washington, The (22 May 2008). "India's missile power lifts off – An U.S perspective on India's missile power". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  24. ^ "Agni-3 flight tested successfully for the third time". 7 May 2008. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  25. ^ "Agni-III launch on May 7". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 5 May 2008. Archived from the original on 8 May 2008. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  26. ^ Pandit, Rajat (8 May 2008). "Agni-III test-fired, can reach Beijing, Shanghai". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 18 December 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  27. ^ "Fourth Test Flight of Long Range Missile AGNI-3 Successful". 7 February 2010. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  28. ^ Super Admin (7 February 2010). "Indian Army ready to induct long range missile Agni-3". Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  29. ^ "Agni-III ready for induction: AK Antony – Sci/Tech – DNA". Daily News and Analysis. 9 August 2010. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  30. ^ "Sci-Tech / Science : India to test fire Agni-V by year-end". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Press Trust of India. 3 June 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  31. ^ Ajai Shukla (4 September 2012). "Military to buy DRDO missiles worth Rs 1 lakh cr in 10 yrs". Business Standard. Hyderabad, India.
  32. ^ Mallikarjun, Y. (21 September 2012). "Agni-III test-fired successfully". The Hindu.
  33. ^ Mallikarjun, Y. (23 December 2013). "Agni-III test-fired by SFC personnel". The Hindu.
  34. ^ "Agni-III successfully test fired from Odisha coast". 16 April 2015 – via The Economic Times.
  35. ^ "India test-fires nuclear-capable Agni III ballistic missile". The Economic Times. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  36. ^ "India successfully test fires nuclear capable Agni-III missile off Odisha coast". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  37. ^ "Nuclear capable Agni-III missile fails in maiden night trial". The New Indian Express. 1 December 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.

External links

  • CSIS Missile Threat - Agni 3
  • Bharat-Rakshak Home
  • Bharat-Rakshak Missiles Section: AGNI – Strategic Ballistic Missile
  • Video of Agni-III test