Canister Based Launch of Agni V : Explained


Explained by: Parveen Kaswan ( Author is an Aerospace Engineer and holds a Masters Degree in Engineering Designs from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore )

India is planning for Canister-based trial of Agni-V very soon as appeared recently in press. Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has recently conducted a dummy test which was quite successful and now they are planning for an actual test. Now lets understand what is canister based launching system.

Agni missile

A canister for a missile serves a duel function which provides an environmental container and a launching tube. A canister launch system can be either hot launch, where the missile ignites in the cell, or cold launch, where the missile is expelled by gas produced by a gas generator which is not part of the missile itself, and then the missile ignites. In case of hot launches the problem is the heat produced by the missile at the time of launch. The hot launch is better for small missiles as the ejection part itself will be done by using missiles own engine.

So it depends on the size of missile – the feasibility of the system utilized for the ejection. Cold launch is also safer than hot launch as the ejection system will eject the missile by itself even if there is a missile failure.

The picture is representational only, which shows Mark 41 Vertical Launching System and a hot launch. 


In case of Agni V, it will be a cold launch. In this launch a gas generator will be used to push the missile to a height of say 30 metre and then at that height the first stage of missile will be ignited. This gas generator will be powered by solid propellant and will be able to produce force approximately 300-370 tonnes. After this the missile will follow the normal operation procedure.

The important functions of canister based launch system:  

  • serves as a container for transportation and it is always easy to carry missiles in canister.
  • a housing during storage aboard a vessel.
  • provides operational flexibility

Also in some cases, canister is provided with upper and lower guide rails which support a’missile during storage and which are used to direct the missile during its initial period of acceleration during launch. Frangible covers are provided for closing from and aft openings of the canister and locking and safety devices are provided on the canister to lock a missile in position until the desired time of launch.

Agni V: 

Agni V is a inter continental ballistic missile which has a range of 5000-5500 km. It is a three stage solid fuel propelled missile which is developed as a part of  Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme. capable of carrying warhead upto 1500 kilograms and can deliver Nuclear warheads also. The canister based technology is important because of above given points which makes the missile deployment time shorter. With addition to this technology, India is also working to master the Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) technology which is also considered as India’s technological solution for Minimum Nuclear Deterrence.

Now here is question for the readers: Can you give me a name of another Indian missile which has already tested and can be used with canister based launch system ??



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