#DefenseDiaries: India successfully test-fires nuclear-capable Agni-V missile for 6th time
Days after the 20th anniversary of the Pokhran nuclear tests, India test-fired the nuclear-capable Agni-V missile from the Abdul Kalam island off the Odisha coast. It was last tested on January 18 in its final configuration. Today's test, which took place at 9:48am from the Integrated Test Range, marked its sixth successful trial. It will eventually be inducted into the Strategic Forces Command (SFC).
The Agni-V was developed in 2007. Like all Agni missiles, it too is under the authority of SFC. With a range of over 5,000km, Agni-V is India's first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The missile, which is 17m long, 2m wide and can carry nuclear warheads of over 1 tonne, has undergone five tests before, in April'12, September'13, January'15, December'16 and January'18.
Agni I, II and III, with shorter ranges, are more suitable for targeting Pakistan, but the longer-range Agni IV and V are widely accepted as a deterrent to China. With its strike range of over 5,000km, the Agni-V will be able to reach China's northernmost parts. Beijing had said they believed its range to be 8,000 km. India, however, has maintained ambiguity.
For short range ballistic missiles with ranges between 300-1,000km, India has Prithvi, which has a range of 350-600km. In the medium range ballistic missile category (1,000-3,500km), India has Agni-I (700-1,250km), Agni-II (2,000km) and Agni-III (3,000km). The 4,000km Agni-IV falls in the intermediate ballistic missile category (3,500-5,000km). And finally, in the intercontinental ballistic missile category (greater than 5,500km) comes Agni-V with a range of 5,500-5,800km.
The SFC was established in 2003 to supervise India's nuclear arsenal. It is responsible for a myriad of services, from delivering nuclear weapons to selection of target area. Almost all tasks require approval of the Nuclear Command Authority (NCA). Agni-V's induction into the SFC will make India one of few countries with ICBMS. Only the US, Russia, China, France and UK possess similar weapons.