India has successfully tested a surface-to-surface ballistic missile.
The nation was kind enough to announce the test on Thursday, revealing that its Agni-5 “was successfully flight tested for its full range … from Dr Abdul Kalam Island, Odisha. This was the fifth test of the Missile and the third consecutive one from a canister on a road mobile launcher. All the five missions have been successful.”
To explain why India conducted the launch, the statement added “This successful test of Agni-5 reaffirms the country’s indigenous missile capabilities and further strengthens our credible deterrence.” That deterrence includes possession of nuclear weapons that, given the Agni-5’s payload of over 1,000kg, can probably now be delivered by rocket.
India’s been less forthcoming with information on the missile’s range, but it is widely accepted to be around 5,000km. With mobile launches possible and India possessing plenty of land, that’s enough to bring Moscow, Athens, Tokyo, all of China, all of the Middle East and even the US naval base on Diego Garcia into range.
Agni-5’s range is also less than half that of North Korea’s recent launches and nobody expects it to lob missiles at any of those locations, because it’s a stable and peaceful democracy that generally observes international laws. But it’s also in a near-permanent state of mid-level conflict with Pakistan, has in recent months rubbed up against China and last year abstained from a United Nations vote on the abolition of nuclear weapons. And let’s not forget India’s very own seven-satellite GPS alternative, launched in part to reduce dependence on other nations’ satnav facilities. ®