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With Eye On China, India Test Fired Agni-V New Long-Range Ballistic Missile

 India on Thursday successfully test fired a new missile
capable of delivering a one-tonne nuclear warhead anywhere in rival
China, marking a major advance in its defence capabilities.
Watched by hundreds of scientists, the Agni V was launched from a test site off the eastern state of Orissa.

India views the rocket, which has a range of 5,000 kilometres, as a
key boost to its regional power aspirations and one that narrows —
albeit slightly — the huge gap with China’s technologically advanced
missile systems.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A K Antony
congratulated the nation’s defence scientists on the “successful”
launch, with Antony calling the achievement “a major milestone in
India’s missile programme”.

The test leaves India knocking at the door of a select club of
nations with inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which have a
minimum range of 5,500 kilometres.
Currently only the five permanent members of the UN Security Council —
Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — possess a
declared ICBM capability.

“I am announcing the successful launch of Agni V making history and
making our country proud in the area of missile technology,” V K
Saraswat, head of India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation
(DRDO) which made the missile, said.

He said India was now a “missile power”. DRDO spokesman Ravi Gupta insisted the Agni V was a “non country
specific” deterrent, but analysts noted it extends India’s missile reach
over the entire Chinese mainland, including military installations in
the far northeast.

Agni, which means “fire” in Sanskrit, is the name given to a series
of rockets India developed as part of its ambitious integrated guided
missile development project launched in 1983.

While the shorter-range Agnis I and II were mainly developed with
Pakistan in mind, later versions with a range of 3,500 kilometres — are
perceived as China-centric deterrents.
A team of 800 have worked on the indigenously developed Agni V over
the last three years, using new materials and technology to build motors
capable of increasing the propulsion and speed of the new missile.

“Firstly you have a phenomenal range so every single significant city
— Beijing, Shanghai — will come within its range,” retired Air Force
officer Kapil Kak from the Centre for Air Power Studies in India.

“Secondly, it has a very, very high speed compared to previous
missiles…But the key issue is that this missile can be pushed to 8,000

“The significance there is that India then demonstrates the capability to make an ICBM,” he added.

There was no official reaction in China, but the state-run Global
Times newspaper warned India “should not overestimate its strength” in
an editorial published on Thursday.

“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,” it added.

The two Asian giants, each with a population of more than one
billion, have prickly relations and a legacy of mistrust that stems from
a brief but bloody border war in 1962.

In public, their leaders stress that trade is booming and that the
world is big enough to accommodate both of them as they develop

China’s military arsenal is far larger and far more technologically
advanced than India’s, which is why the Agni V is so important,
according to Monika Chansoria, a senior fellow at the Delhi-based Centre
for Land Warfare Studies.