Successful Agni-III missile tests provide India with a credible deterrent, boost for DRDO
10 Feb 2010: NDTV quotes Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu as saying that India and China are friends and that China does not see the missile as a threat.
08 Feb 2010 8ak: In a significant step forward for India’s missile development program, DRDO has successfully tested the 3,500 km range Agni-III missile on Saturday. The missile, which was tested from the Inner Wheeler Island at Dhamra, a launch site in Bhadrak district, about 200 km from Orissa capital Bhubaneswar, travelled 350 km into the sky before re-entering the atmosphere.
8ak had earlier reported that India was in the process of testing Agni-III. The test was critical for the armed forces because the missiles range gives India the capability to hit territories deep inside China, which includes important cities like Beijing and Shanghai. According to TravelMath, the distance from India's capital New Delhi to Beijing is about 3,800km and 4,200 for Shanghai. (missiles will be fired from eastern borders, not Delhi, hence all major Chinese cities are within the range).
This is the fourth test of the country's most powerful missile. The first test of the missile was conducted on July 9, 2006 from Wheeler Island. After the launch, it was reported that the second stage of the rocket had failed to separate and the missile had fallen well short of its target. Agni-III was again tested on April 12, 2007, this time successfully, from the Wheeler Island off the coast of Orissa. On May 7, 2008 India again successfully test fired this missile. The Agni-III missile is expected to be fully operational by 2012-2013.
The tests are significant as it validates the missiles operational readiness while extending the reach of India's nuclear deterrent to most high-value targets of the nation's most likely adversaries. The missile, with its range, is expected to bolster India’s credible deterrence capability against China.
A top DRDO official told 8ak that the missile’s Circular Error Probable (CEP) is within 40 meters range, which makes it one of the most sophisticated and accurate ballistic missiles of its range class in the world. Work on the upgraded version of Agni-III missile known as Agni-V has commenced. The missile is expected to have a range of 5,000-6,000 km. It is a three stage solid fuelled missile with composite motor casing in the third stage. Two stages of this missile will be made with advanced composite materials. Agni-V will be able to carry multiple warheads and will have countermeasures against Anti-ballistic missile systems.
India has a very ambitious missile development program. Over the years India has tried to develop numerous new missiles to bolster its attack and retaliatory capabilities. In 2009, the 700km-range nuclear-capable submarine- launched ballistic missile (SLBM) Samaria was tested. Other indigenously built missiles to be tested by India in 2009 year are the 350km-range Prithvi and Russia-India developed supersonic missile Brahmos. These missiles are being developed under the aggressive Integrated Guided Missiles Program (IGMP) launched in 1983 by India to develop futuristic missiles technology based on hypersonic rockets to provide a potent weapon to the armed forces in order to enhance national security.
The DRDO is also developing Astra beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air missile (BVRAAM) for which the captive flight trials are going on. A 2008 Dawn News report quoting India's Mail Today (via Defence.pk) claims that Pakistan has a far more superior missile capabilities compared to India. An overview of Pakistan's missile technology is on Nuclear Threat Initiative.