India Successfully Tests Agni-5 Missile
India stormed into a select league of nations that have the capability to hit targets over 5,000 km away when it successfully tested the Agni-5 long-range nuclear-capability ballistic missile from the Wheeler Island off Odisha coast. With this successful test, India has joined nations like US, Russia, China etc. in that exclusive club. There is no single definition for what constitutes an ICBM.
The Wikipedia says it is a nuclear capable missile with ranges in excess of 5,000 km. Some consider Agni-5 short of being called an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM). India’s neighbour, China, has the DF-31A ICBM in its arsenal that can hit targets all over Asia and can reach Europe and even the Americas. The 50-tonne Agni-5 is 17.5-metres tall and it reached an altitude of 600 km during the test and touched a velocity of 7,000 meters per second, enabling the payload to achieve the 5,000 km range. This is a canister borne missile. As such it can be fired from the road or rail mobile mode as also from nuclear submarines. It has the MIRV (Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle) capability and can launch from three to ten warheads. This is needed to defeat Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) defences. It can also be used for Anti-satellite (ASAT) missiles to destroy enemy satellites as also to launch such satellites or a swarm of Nano Satellites with this missile.
India now has the capacity to attack the North East Quadrant of China which contains the key Command & Control Target of Beijing. This was a serious gap in our deterrence capability that has now been overcome. Defence Minister A K Antony described the development as a major milestone in the country’s missile programme and said that “the nation is indeed proud” of its defence scientists. He also recalled “the untiring contributions of former DRDO chief M Natarajan. The Agni-5 programme has Tessy Thomas, a woman missile scientist, as the number two in the project. Thomas was the project director for India’s 3,500-km Agni-4 missile that was successfully tested in November 2011.