India on Thursday successfully test-fired nuclear capable Agni-V ballistic missile from off the coast of Odisha. The missile, developed by India’s very own Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has a range of 5000-5500 km and brings entire Asia and almost 70 percent Europe within its striking range.
The 50-ton, 17-metre long missile is India’s trump card in the elite list of nations possessing intercontinental ballistic missile systems. Some of the other countries who have the ICBM capabilities include- US, Russia, UK, China, Israel, North Korea and France.
After the successful completion of the stipulated number of tests, the missile will join the armed forces strategic forces command which controls India’s strategic weapons- meaning nuclear arsenal.
The canister launch system gives the missile the maneuverability.
China has often frowned upon the development of Agni-V, with many experts reportedly citing that India is underplaying the range of Agni-V. In 2012, The Global Times quoted Du Wenlong, a researcher at China’s PLA Academy of Military Sciences, as saying that Agni-V “actually has the potential to reach targets 8,000 kilometers away”.
While India is working on enhancing the range of Agni-V and also, reportedly engaged in the development of Agni-VI, its present range is not comparable to the Chinese ICBM- the CSS-10 Mod 2, with a range in excess of 11,200 km.
According to a report by the US Department of Defence in 2017, The Peoples’ Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) also continues to enhance its silo-based ICBMs and is adding more survivable, mobile delivery systems.
“China’s ICBM arsenal to date consists of approximately 75-100 ICBMs, including the silo-based CSS-4 Mod 2 (DF-5A) and MIRV-equipped Mod 3 (DF-5B); the solid-fueled, road-mobile CSS-10 Mod 1 and 2 (DF-31 and DF-31A); and the shorter range CSS-3 (DF-4). The CSS-10 Mod 2, with a range in excess of 11,200 km, can reach most locations within the continental United States,” the report cited.
(Source: US Congressional report)
According to the report, China is estimated to possess 75-100 numbers of ICBMs, 50-75 launchers that can fire the missiles to a range of 5,400-13,000+ km.
Development continues of the road-mobile DF-41 ICBM, which the report says is (multiple independently targeted re-entry) “MIRV capable” like the existing silo-based DF-5B- the report cited.
(Source: US Congressional report)
The DF-41 ICBM, the development of which is expected to be complete this year, will carry up to 10 manoeuvrable nuclear warheads each weighing 100 to 200 kilotonnes to a megaton size.
The expected range of the missile is between 12,000- 15,000km, and thus, will be capable of reaching every corner of the Earth.
The MIRV technology will yield the capability of targetting multiple targets within the range.
There have been reports suggesting that China is helping Pakistan develop an ICBM. In March 2015, The Washington Post reported that Shaheen III, with a range of 1700 km can deliver nuclear warheads to every part of India.
While Pakistani generals have claimed that the country is working on enhancing the ranges of its tactical weapons, the longest reported ranges of Hatf/ Ghauri missiles and Shaheen are not beyond 2300-2700 km.
The mentions of reported development of ICBM Taimur could not be verified through government references in open domain.
SOURCE: TIMES NOW