On Monday, India carried out its fourth successful test launch of its Agni-V nuclear-capable, three-stage, solid fuel intercontinental ballistic missile. The test was carried out off Dr. Abdul Kalam Island in the Indian state of Odisha.
India’s Defense Research and Development Organization released a statement noting that the test “further boosted the indigenous missile capabilities and deterrence level of the country.” The statement added that “all the radars, tracking systems, and range stations tracked and monitored the flight performance and all the mission objectives were successfully met.”
“All the test parameters of the missile, which was tested for its full range, were successfully achieved. The missile splashed down near Australian waters,” an Indian official told the Times of India.
“Successful test firing of Agni V makes every Indian very proud. It will add tremendous strength to our strategic defence,” said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a statement released on Twitter.
Monday’s test was long-planned and first reported last week. As my colleague Franz-Stefan Gady explained in the Diplomat, the previous three tests of the Agni-V have had important distinctions.
In April 2012 and September 2013, the ICBM was tested in “open configuration,” and a test last year in January featured its launch from a hermetically sealed canister on a road-mobile transporter erector launcher in “deliverable configuration.”
The capability conferred on India’s Strategic Forces Command by the Agni-IV and Agni-V missiles are primarily intended to bolster India’s strategic nuclear deterrent against China.
India deploys the short-to-medium-range Agni-I, Agni-II, Agni-III, and Prithvi series of shorter-range missiles for its strategic deterrent against Pakistan.
The Agni-V has a rated strike range of more than 5,000 kilometers and is capable of delivering a 1,500 kilogram warhead.
The strike range of the Indian ICBM leaves it capable of striking all of China, most of Russia, the Middle East, and parts of north-eastern and southern Africa.
With its land-based ballistic missiles, a limited free-falling unguided air delivery method, and a recently acquired sea-based ballistic missile capability with the launch of the first of the Arihant-class ballistic missile nuclear submarine, India joins the United States, Russia, and China as a triad power.
Once the Agni-V is formally inducted, which will take place following user trial testing, India will join the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom as the sixth country to feature a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile capability. (North Korea has yet to test its KN-08 and KN-14 ICBMs.)
In addition to the Agni-V, Indian officials have hinted that the Agni-VI successor intercontinental ballistic missile may be capable of striking targets as far away as 10,000 kilometers and may featured multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles. The Agni-VI is awaiting approval, but may begin early testing as early as next year.