NEW DELHI – India on Monday conducted a successful test of the nuclear-capable long-range surface to surface ballistic missile, Agni-V.
The missile is indigenously designed and developed by state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation.
"The test – the fourth in a row – was a complete success," a senior DRDO scientist said. "Three more tests are planned before the missile is inducted in the defense forces... The full range test-flight of the missile has further boosted the indigenous missile capabilities and deterrence level of the country."
All the radars, tracking systems, and range stations tracked and monitored the flight performance, and all the mission objectives were successful. This was the 4th test of Agni-V missile and the second one from a canister on a road mobile launcher. All the four missions have been successful, according to a Ministry of Defense announcement.
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"Agni-V will be the last link in the chain of land-based deterrence vis a vis China as at present India cannot pose a viable threat to major Chinese counter value targets such as large cities," said Rahul Bhonsle, a defense analyst and retired Indian Army brigadier and defense analyst. "This will certainly place the country at par with the Chinese as well as other major missile powers such as the United States and Russia to some extent. Thus India enters the exclusive intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) club."
"India had strategically delayed the testing of 5000 kilometres range Agni-V for one year to ensure a seat in the Missile Control Technology Regime (MTCR) which it got in July this year," said a senior MoD official who requested anonymity.
The fourth test of Agni-V missile was first scheduled for December 2015 which was postponed to January 2016 and then to March 2016 and then rescheduled because of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to US in June this year.
The first test of this missile was conducted on April 19, 2012, the second test was carried out on September 15, 2013 and the third on January 31, 2015 from the same base. The surface-to-surface Agni-V missile is seven meters long and can carry a nuclear warhead of more than one ton.
A DRDO scientist further noted that there is also a proposal to develop Agni-VI missile with a range of over 10,000 kilometers, but the status of the project is not known.
India has already inducted the homemade nuclear capable Agni-I with a range of 700 kilometers, Agni-II with a range of 2000 kilometers,3000 kilometers range Agni-III missile The 4000 kilometers range Agni-IV missile is in user trial stage.
Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.