India released a statement this Thursday confirming the successful test launch of a new missile capable of delivering a nuclear payload. If true, this would represent the first time the country has been able to launch a nuclear attack on Chinese cities including Shanghai and Beijing.
According to the Indian government, the new Agni-V missile has a range of over 5,000 kilometers and represents a massive boost to the countries countermeasures against China’s growing dominance. India’s head of defense stated that the missile had been successfully launched off Wheeler Island at 8:07am. He went on to say that the rocket reached its planned altitude of 370 miles, while all payload deliver systems functioned appropriately.
“India has emerged from this launch as a major missile power,” he informed the world.
Indian authorities had originally planned to launch the test missile on Wednesday, though this was summarily postponed due to adverse weather conditions.
“We have achieved exactly what we wanted to achieve in this mission,” according to mission director Avinash Chandra speaking to Times Now.
At a cost of approximately 25 billion rupees, the 18-meter Agni-V is said to be capable of carrying a 1.5 ton nuclear warhead or launching satellites into orbit. According to Indian military, a further four or five trials will be carried out before the new rocket can be officially added to the country’s arsenal – expected to happen in 2015.
China is currently strides ahead of Indian in terms of missile capabilities – already having several technologies capable of striking any part of India. At present, India’s most advance Agni-III rocket had a maximum range of 3,500 kilometers, falling short of any of China’s major cities.
The Indian government hailed the successful test this week as a step closer toward the country becoming a recognized world power.
“India has today become a nation with the capability to develop, produce, build long-range ballistic missiles and today we are among the six countries who have this capability,” an official statement read.
China and India were embroiled in war as recently as 1962 – the scars and border disputes of which remain inescapable. India also continues to voice its concerns over China’s apparent efforts to extend its power and authority across the surrounding Indian Ocean region.
“While China doesn’t really consider India any kind of a threat or any kind of a rival, India definitely doesn’t think in the same way,” according to India defense analyst Rahul Bedi.
India has long had the technology required to launch an attack on any city in its sworn-enemy Pakistan, but recent years have seen massive spending diverted to efforts intended to counteract an apparent threat from China. The country’s navy took over a nuclear submarine from Russia this year, while a Soviet-built aircraft carrier is also expected for imminent delivery.
Government officials have however reassured the public that the test launch of the missile should not be viewed as a threat or an act of hostility.