India test-fires its longest-range intercontinental missile

India test-fires nuclear-capable ICBM Agni-V from Odisha coast

Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitharaman while inaugurating the Defence Industry Development Meet at Chennai, shared her happiness on the successful flight test of Agni-5.

The Hindu Business Line newspaper said the three-stage missile, launched from a mobile launcher, traveled almost 5,000 kilometers and flew for almost 20 minutes. India has already conducted four trails; two from mobile launcher and two from canister successfully.

New Delhi wants a credible strategic deterrent against an aggressive and expansionist China, which has a large arsenal of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, the report said. The missile will be so powerful that it can target most parts of Asia, including the northernmost parts of China and large parts of Europe as well.

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Once that induction process is complete, India will join an elite group of countries with access to intercontinental ballistic missiles, a list that includes China, Russia and the United States, experts say. The Agni-V missile is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

Relations between India and China have been strained in recent times over a border dispute in the Himalayan region of Doklam.

India has at present in its armoury of Agni series, Agni-1 with 700 km range, Agni-2 with 2,000 km range, Agni-3 and Agni-4 with with 2,500 km to more than 3500 km range.

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The missile was earlier tested successfully in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. "The nuclear security situation remains grave". The missile can deliver a payload of 1.5 tons.

"If there are hostilities, and if there are contingencies, then India has something which can deter China or at least make China think twice", he said. Modi met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the beginning of the Indian leader's premiership back in 2014.

According to the Federation of American Scientists, India possesses around 130 nuclear warheads, which is a modest figure compared to the USA and Russia who both have several thousand each. Pakistan, China's strategic partner in the multi-billion dollar CPEC deal, is now involved in a bitter territorial dispute with India over the contested territories of Kashmir and Jammu.

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According to Yvonne Chiu, a professor of at Hong Kong University, said that India's nuclear missile development could in effect have spurred Pakistan into the arms race.

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