India to test fire long-range missile
DHAKA: India is due to test fire a long-range inter-continental ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
The locally-developed Agni-V missile has a range of more than 5,000km and is expected to be launched in the eastern state of Orissa.
Analysts say the Agni, meaning ‘fire’ in Hindi and Sanskrit, missile family is to be the cornerstone of India’s missile-based nuclear deterrent.
The missiles are among India’s most sophisticated weapons.
In 2010, India successfully test-fired Agni-II, an intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of more than 2,000km.
Defence analyst Rahul Bedi says the successful test flight of the Agni-V missile, which is capable of delivering a single 1.5-ton warhead deep inside nuclear rival China’s territory, will strengthen India’s nuclear deterrence once it comes into service by 2014-15.
It is 17.5m-tall, solid-fuelled, has three stages and a launch weight of 50 tons. It has cost more than 2.5bn rupees or $480m to develop.
Only China, Russia, France, the US, and Great Britain have such long-range missiles. Israel is thought to possess them.
‘Agni-V is to meet our present-day threat perceptions, which are determined by our defence forces and other agencies’, a spokesman for the Defence Research and Development Organisation, Ravi Gupta, told media.
‘This is a deterrent to avoid wars and it is not country-specific’, he said.
VK Saraswat, scientific adviser to India’s defence minister AK Antony, told The Hindu newspaper that the launch will mark a ‘historic day’.
‘Agni-V is a game-changer and a technological marvel. It is a weapon which can perform multiple functions’, he said.
BDST: 1319 HRS, APR 18, 2012
Edited by Robab Rosan, Cultural Affairs Editor