India is in the final stages of test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching Beijing. The missile, codenamed Agni V, will be fired off from Wheeler Island off the eastern Indian state of Odisha, after two years of preparation.
Once the fourth and final test-firing of the 50-tonne missile takes place, the missile would be taken up for user trials by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC), which manages the country's nuclear arsenal.
"There were some minor technical snags in Agni-V, which required tweaking of its internal battery and electronic configurations after its last test in January 2015," a source told the Times of India. The earlier versions of Agni missiles are capable of striking its arch-rival Pakistan and some parts of China. The latest prototype, a three-stage missile, which will be in the strike range of 5,000 kms and 5,500 kms, would catapult India into the exclusive league of nations that comprises the US, Russia, China, France and the UK.
The Agni-IV and Agni-V are specifically aimed at China, which is already far ahead in terms of missile and nuclear capabilities compared to India.
"This will be the final test of the three-stage Agni-V, which will be tested for its full range, before the SFC begins its user trials," added the source. The SFC will conduct two more trials once the impending test is successful.
"The problem is solvable and the next test-firing of Agni-V is expected by the year-end," the source is quoted as saying.
S Christopher, chief of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), had earlier attributed the delay to a problem with the battery.