Explained: Agni (ICBM) vs China’s Hypersonic missile

What is the News?

Recently, India has successfully test-fired Agni-V Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Moreover, China has also recently tested a new hypersonic Glide missile.

What is Agni V?

Agni-V is a surface-to-surface nuclear-capable InterContinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).

Click Here to Read more about Agni V

What is a Hypersonic Glide Vehicle that China tested?

A hypersonic glide vehicle is launched by a rocket that moves in the Earth’s lower orbit. It is launched at more than five times to 25 times the speed of sound. 

The vehicle is capable of carrying nuclear payloads, which gives the launching country the strategic capacity to attack almost any target across the world.

Read more: China tested ‘nuclear capable hypersonic missile’, says report
How is a Hypersonic Glide Vehicle different from an ICBM?

ICBM follows a parabolic trajectory, which means it goes up and then comes down in a high arc—like throwing up a ball.

On the other hand,  hypersonic glide vehicles orbit the earth at a lower height and are manoeuvrable. The ability to change track or target, mid-trajectory, along with the speed, makes them tougher to track and defend against.

Moreover, hypersonic missiles can travel approximately 5,000 to 25,000 km per hour, which makes them six to over 25 times faster than modern commercial aircraft.

Hence, the mix of the high altitude, high speed and manoeuvrability of hypersonic missiles can potentially provide them to use in-flight updates to attack a different target than originally planned.

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: Agni (ICBM) vs China’s Hypersonic missile” published in “Indian Express” on 28th October 2021.

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