India Successfully Test-fires Nuclear Capable Missile Agni-IV

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India on Monday successfully tested a weapons-capable ballistic missile Agni-IV , from A P J Abdul Kalam Island, formerly known as Wheeler Island, off Odisha coast, Times Of India reported.

The trial by the Indian Army’s Strategic Forces Command, launched the missile at 9:45 AM from a road-mobile launcher.

The missile reportedly has a strike range of 4,000 kilometres, leaving behind the older ones in the series as Agni-I had a strike range of 700-km, Agni-II had 2,000-km while Agni-III could hit a target as away as about 3,000-km.

The surface-to-surface Agni-IV missile is a two-stage weapon system. It is 20 metres long and weighs 17 tonnes.

The TOI report also quoted sources in India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as saying that the Agni-IV missile is equipped with 5th generation onboard computer and distributed architecture with the latest features to correct and guide itself for in-flight disturbances.

The ring laser gyro-based inertial navigation system (RINS), supported by highly reliable redundant micro navigation system (MINGS), ensures the vehicle reaches the target within two-digit accuracy.

Giving further specifications of the missile system the report said that the re-entry heat shield can withstand temperatures near the range of 4,000 degrees centigrade and makes sure the avionics function normally with inside temperature remaining less than 50 degrees centigrade.

It is pertinent to note here that the missile, before today, had undergone one failed and four successful tests over the last five years. A P J Abdul Kalam Island was formerly known as Wheeler Island and later renamed after the architect of the India’s national missile development programme.

Indian forces will test their most most formidable missile, the over 5,000-km Agni-V, next year in January-February.

Agni-IV and Agni-V, according to the TOI report, are meant for deterrence against China.

Another concern raised by the TOI report is India’s lack of an operational submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) which is required to complete its nuclear weapons triad.

Meanwhile, it is also unclear if Pakistan is any closer to the submarine based ‘assured second strike capability’ for stable deterrence, particularly at time when India has already made the moves towards it.

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

While the shorter-range Agni I and II were mainly developed with traditional rival Pakistan in mind, analysts say later versions with a longer range reflect the shift in India’s focus towards China.

India and China, 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.

India, the world’s biggest arms importer, is in the midst of a $100-billion defence upgrade programme.

The new right-wing government has cleared long-delayed projects worth over $16 billion since storming to power at elections in May.

Modi has pushed for greater indigenisation of its defence industry, saying India must build up its military might to the point that no other country “dare cast an evil eye” on the South Asian nation.

A Stockholm International Peace Research Institute report issued inSeptember, described China as the only state among the five global nuclear powers to have a “modest” increase in the size of its arsenal.

The report said that India has 90 to 100 warheads, Pakistan has 100 to 120 warheads and Israel possesses 80 warheads.

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