Agni-V ready for final test: India’s most advanced nuclear-capable ICBM can reach China
India is all set to test the Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), capable of striking the even northernmost parts of China, in its final operational configuration from Wheeler Island off Odisha.
This will be the fourth and the final test of nuclear-capable Agni-V. It will be tested for its full range, before Strategic Forces Command begins its user trials.
The Agni-V is India’s most formidable nuclear missile till now since it brings the whole of China and much more within its strike range.
The three-stage Agni-V was earlier tested in an open configuration in April 2012 and September 2013. The third test was done from a hermetically-sealed canister mounted on a Tatra launcher truck in ‘a deliverable configuration’ on Jan 30 2015.
The fourth test, however, was put on hold due to minor technical snags which required a tweaking of the internal battery and electronic configurations.
According to reports, India wanted to exercise some strategic restraint in a bid to join the 48-country Nuclear Suppliers Group, which was thwarted by China earlier this year.
India did, however, managed to join the 34-nation Missile Technology Control Regime and sign a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with Japan.
The Agni-V is the most advanced version of the indigenously built Agni, or Fire, series, part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) that started in the 1960s and was once overseen by APJ Abdul Kalam. It will give the defence forces the ability to transport and fire the ballistic missile from anywhere they want.
Agni’s earlier versions, which have been already been inducted in the armed forces, can reach Pakistan and parts of western China.
The 50 tonne Agni-V, with its 5,000 km-range, is the farthest reaching Indian missile and capable of targeting even the northernmost parts of China.
While Beijing is miles ahead in terms of its nuclear capabilities, Agni-V is more than capable of tackling the existing threat perceptions.
Once inducted, India will join the super exclusive club of countries with ICBMs alongside the US, Russia, China, France and the UK.