India is all set to join the select group of nations capable of
launching nuclear strikes across continent. With Russia ready to provide
the cutting-edge “seeker” technology for India’s Agni-V
intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the country is ready to
flaunt its nuclear might in a big way by year end when the ICBM will
undergo its maiden launch.
The development of the ICBM had been delayed because no country was
ready to provide India the crucial ‘seekers’ technology, which enables
the missile to home in on the target with pinpoint precision. The ICBM
will be capable of carrying nuclear payload and has a strike range of
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has
indigenously developed the ‘seeker’ technology for Agni-I, Agni-II and
Agni-III intermediate range missiles. But the DRDO was not in a position
to develop the next stage technology and efforts to import it had been
futile so far.
The breakthrough with Russia for the most critical system of the ICBM
came after extensive talks between delegations of the two countries
during Defence Minister AK Antony’s three-day visit to Moscow earlier
this week. The Indian delegation comprised senior missile scientists of
the DRDO besides others, and Moscow agreed to help New Delhi for the
ICBM project, sources said.
The two sides met to review progress on various defence projects under
the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical
Co-operation set up a decade back. The Defence Ministers of the two
countries head this body and meet once a year either in Moscow or New
Russia, UK, the US, France and China are the only countries in the world
to have ICBMs which can hit a target beyond 10,000 km. India has
successfully developed intermediate range ballistic missiles capable of
carrying nuclear weapons and hitting a target less than 4,000 km.
With the successful launch of the Agni-III two years back, the Indian
scientists displayed their capability to even develop ICBM. However,
their efforts over the last two years or so to go ahead with Angi-V
launch could not progress due to non-availability of ‘seeker’ techology.
“Given discriminatory attitude against India by some advanced
countries, including the US vis-à-vis sharing advanced technology over
the last two decades, it was tough going for the missile project
scientists till Russia agreed to come to India’s rescue,” officials
They said Russia was more than willing to share technical know-how
with India for its missile programme and time tested defence relations
between the two countries spanning more than four decades again produced
positive results, sources said.
In another important development, Russia will also share its advanced
GPS system for military purposes with India. The US has been reluctant
to do so despite repeated assurances by Washington that it is ready to
open its doors for hi-tech.
Incidentally, the other country to provide frontline technology in
missiles and avionics is Israel and its sophisticated radars helped the
DRDO carry out the successful test of Agni-III, sources pointed out.