More fire power


India crossed another technological threshold when it successfully test-fired the fifth generation ballistic missile Agni-V on Sunday. Capable of...

India crossed another technological threshold when it successfully test-fired the fifth generation ballistic missile Agni-V on Sunday. Capable of carrying over a tonne nuclear warhead, the most advanced missile in the Agni series can hit targets as far as Beijing and beyond.

Though its reach is over 5,000km bracketing it in the Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) category, Chinese call it an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) as they believe that its range is intentionally downplayed by Indian authorities. The Sunday test came 17 months after the first Agni V launch on April 19, 2012 that rattled China, though it has more powerful long-range ballistic missiles in its arsenal than India. Commenting on India’s victorious entry into an exclusive missile club, Global Times, the English language newspaper of People’s Daily, noted a day after last year’s test that India had downplayed the Agni-V range deliberately.

The missile was capable of reaching 8,000km, instead of 5,000km as claimed by New Delhi to avoid being dubbed it as an ICBM, the paper said. Later, it followed up with another report that India had limited the Agni V range under NATO pressure. However, on the more advanced version of Agni V, the paper had a different take and tried to denigrate the achievement. It said, "India should not overestimate its strength. Even if it has missiles that could reach most parts of China that does not mean it will gain anything from being arrogant during disputes with China. India should be clear that China's nuclear power is stronger and more reliable. For the foreseeable future, India would stand no chance in an overall arms race with China."

India has never said that it will match missile for missile with China; nor is it the country’s intention. The country’s stated policy is to have a minimum deterrent and follows no-first-use nuclear doctrine. The Integrated Missile Development Programme had been launched keeping in mind India’s external threat perceptions from a strategic viewpoint. Beginning with Agni I with 700 km range, Agni II with 2000 km range, Agni III and IV with 2500-3500 km range, to serve land, air and sea defence needs, India’s missile programme has been progressing well and credit goes to our DRDO scientists who are said to have incorporated many advanced features in Agni V. Many new technologies developed indigenously were successfully tested in the latest Agni-V trial. Among these were redundant navigation systems, very high accuracy Ring Laser Gyro-based Inertial Navigation System (RINS) and the most modern and accurate Micro Navigation System (MINS) to ensure the missile hit the target within a few meters of accuracy. Another key feature is it can be fired from a mobile launcher, giving the Indian military a tactical advantage in matters of time and place. Moreover, mobile launchers can evade radar and satellite detection. Though more tests are needed before Agni V is inducted into the Strategic Forces Command, the successful Agni V test shows that we are well on target.

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