DC Edit | Agni-5 gives India edge

The maiden flight test of the Agni-5 missile in its Mission Divyastra, with its multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV), is not just incremental to the capabilities of the Agni 1 to Agni 4 missiles. The 5,800-km range of the missile means India has upped its deterrence capability substantially as the missile can reach even the northern tip of China as well as fringes of Europe.

India’s strategic defence arsenal just got a big upgrade even if the nuclear payload-capable Agni-5 is not truly an intercontinental ballistic missile of the 12,000 to 15,000 km range that the US, Russia, France, UK and China may possess, its rating probably being more of an intermediate range.

It is, however, deterrent enough to give India the edge in a long missile development race with Pakistan whose Ababeel programme has also been updated to represent a significant advancement on earlier versions of missiles.

The difference is MIRV technology, which allows the missile’s warhead to split into multiple re-entry vehicles for more precise attacks with multiple warheads on targets spread across a range of hundreds of kilometres, which is much sought after offensive capability in the missile race.

Technological expertise accounts of the latest missile have it that the cutting-edge system features indigenously developed avionics and high-precision sensors and easier deployment with its canister launch system, making it a handy weapon in the world’s never-ending arms race.

It is a comment on the geopolitical situation India finds itself in, with its location in Asia just below a set of nations that have not always displayed the spirit of the pursuit of peace as a fundamental priority, necessitating that India should also seek to keep pace with deterrence capabilities. This is a price it must pay for its own security and territorial integrity that some of its neighbours have not always respected.

The developing story of the modern world also lies in the sweep of its military capabilities, particularly in the missiles segment as most recent wars have shown the usefulness of even the relatively humble drone as a delivery vehicle of destructive firepower. This was demonstrated in the Ukraine war as well as in attacks on Israel, Gaza and even on international shipping lines.

As a responsible nuclear power, India may have no reason at all to test its strengths in war, but it is a matter of pride that India has mastered MIRV technology almost entirely on indigenous engineering prowess.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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