India will adhere to its no-first-use policy, says DRDO director
For India, a country obsessed with matching powers with China, the Agni V missile is a milestone. India’s latest ballistic achievement was test-fired off Wheelers Island in Odisha at 8:07 am on April 18. It was targeted into the Bay of Bengal. Missile experts have hailed the event, saying it has brought India closer to achieving deterrent parity with China. Agni V, which can target locations up to 5,000 km is an improvement over its predecessor, Agni IV, which was launched in November last year and covers a range of 3,500 km.
“Until now we were in the shadow of the Chinese because their missiles could outreach India. Agni V is going to match up to their ability. Every region of China is within reach of Agni V, says Bharat Karnad, security expert and professor at Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.
Sudhir Mishra, director of missiles at Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Delhi, says, “We’re situated in a dangerous part of the world, and we’ve a population of one billion, which makes it imperative for us to develop technology of this magnitude.” He added that India’s goal with Agni V is only deterrent in nature, and the country adheres to its no-first-use policy. “It will only be used as a second attack if another country strikes first,” he says.
Yet to match China's ICBM power
But even with Agni V, India has not matched the powers of China which has missiles in the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) category. India has not tested an ICBM missile so far. P K Ghosh, missile expert and research fellow at Observer Research Foundation, Delhi, says an ICBM is supposed to cover a distance of at least 5,500 km, but Agni V falls just short of that at 5,000 km. “It was initially called Agni III-Prime, but scientists added a little more range to it. It is essentially a modified version of Agni III,” he informs. Karnad says it really is an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile.
What makes it special
Agni V is completely indigenous, and boasts an improved navigation system. It is a surface-to-surface ballistic missile. A ballistic missile is one that follows a predetermined trajectory to reach a predetermined destination. If Agni V does not go according to its planned trajectory, it can be corrected to a limited scale by controls at the ground station, says Ajay Lele, research fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. It also has an improved navigation system, which helps improve accuracy of strike, adds Ghosh.
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