Home / Politics / News /  Agni-V test launch puts India in select group

New Delhi: India successfully test-launched the 5,000-km-range Agni-V missile from Wheeler Island off Orissa’s coast on Thursday morning, joining a select group of countries—Russia, the US, the UK, China and France—that possess intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Agni-V can carry a payload of one tonne. The total development cost of the Agni programme is about 3,000 crore.

During the missile launch, several new indigenously developed technologies, including a ring-laser, gyro-based inertial navigation system and a micro-navigation system were also tested, the Defence Research and Development Organization said in a statement.

“After all, India’s missile programme is no secret. The Chinese were expecting this," said Rumel Dahiya, retired brigadier and defence analyst at the New Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

China’s foreign ministry said the two countries should “work hard to uphold friendly strategic cooperation", and for peace and stability in the region.

“China and India are large developing nations. We are not competitors but partners," the Chinese ministry spokesman, Liu Weimin, said when asked about the missile test at a briefing in Beijing.

State-owned China Central Television (CCTV) called the test “a historic moment for India and that it shows that India has joined the club of the countries that own ballistic missiles," AP reported. The state broadcaster then enumerated some of the missile’s shortcomings, from a problem with guidance systems to its 50-tonne-plus weight, which it said would require it to be fired from fixed, not mobile positions and thus make it more vulnerable to attack. “It does not pose a threat in reality," CCTV said.


Defence analyst Deba Mohanty echoed Dahiya’s view. “The Chinese already have effective missile deterrence against India. They have missiles with 11,000-12,000km range. Why then should they really be concerned?" he asked.

The fact that Indian scientists have developed a 5,000km-range missile means they could be close to gaining the ability to put strategic weapons in space, said Mohanty. “Put simply, the technology to launch long-range missiles is similar to launching rockets in space. Also, the Air Force already has a rudimentary aerospace command," he said.

A surface-to-surface Agni V missile is launched from the Wheeler Island off Odisha.

The Agni-V launch comes on the heels of the Indian Navy inducting its first nuclear attack submarine, the Akula-II class Russian Nerpa, on 4 April.

Analysts, however, said it was unlikely that the Agni-V missile will be operationally inducted in the next three years. “It will need to undergo further testing, a process that will take at least another year. After that, operationalization will take another 24 months," said Mohanty.

Earlier in the day, the reaction of the Global Times tabloid newspaper, owned by the Chinese Communist Party’s main mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, was sharp. “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," read an op-ed article in the newspaper. “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."

Reuters and AP contributed to the story.

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