India gets ready to test nuclear-capable Agni-V ICBM
Agni-V was tested in an "open configuration" in April 2012 and for the second time in September 2013, the third test, in January 2015, saw it being fired from a hermetically sealed canister mounted on a Tatra launcher truck.
After two years of intense preparations, India is getting ready to tests its Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in its final operational configuration from Wheeler Island off Odisha after two years.
Media reports quoted defence sources saying that the preparations were on in full swing to launch the nuclear-capable Agni-V from its canister on a launcher truck towards December-end or early January . "There were some minor technical snags in Agni-V, which required tweaking of its internal battery and electronic configurations after its last test in January 2015," a source said.
But India also conceivably wanted to exercise some strategic restraint while making a bid to join the 48-country Nuclear Suppliers Group, which China thwarted earlier this year. India, however, did manage to join+ the 34-nation Missile Technology Control Regime ( MTCR), as also ink a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with Japan recently.
The impending fourth test of Agni-V, capable of striking even the northernmost parts of China, is in itself significant. "This will be the final test of the three-stage Agni-V, which will be tested for its full range, before the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) begins its user trials," the source said. The tri-Service SFC, established in 2003 to manage India's nuclear arsenal, will conduct at least two tests before the missile is produced in adequate numbers for induction.
Agni-V was tested in an "open configuration" in April 2012 and for the second time in September 2013, the third test, in January 2015, saw it being fired from a hermetically sealed canister mounted on a Tatra launcher truck. This provides immense leverage to armed forces to swiftly transport and fire the 50-tonne missile from anywhere they want.
Induction of Agni-V would lead India to join the superexclusive club of countries with ICBMs (missiles with a range of over 5,000-5,500km) alongside the US, Russia, China, France and the UK.
Other shorter range missiles are mainly geared towards Pakistan, the Agni-IV and Agni-V are specifically meant for deterrence against China. Even though Beijing is leagues ahead in terms of its missile and nuclear arsenals.
But the Indian defence establishment believes the Agni-V is sufficient to take care of existing threat perceptions.