India has test-fired its longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Agni-5, which is capable of striking targets in China. Heralded as the "weapon of peace", the missile has a striking range of up to 5,000kms.
Sometimes dubbed as the "China killer", the missile can carry more than 1,000kg warhead and is capable of reaching almost all of Asia including India's key rivals – China and Pakistan. The Agni-5 missile, which means "Fire" in Sanskrit, was fired off from the Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast and is India's most potent long-range nuclear capable weapon.
"Successful test firing of Agni V makes every Indian very proud. It will add tremendous strength to our strategic defence," said Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailing the team of scientists behind the indigenously developed system.
The 17-metre-long surface-to-surface missile, which weighs about 50 tonnes, was test-fired for the fourth developmental trail on Monday, 26 December. The first such launch was carried out in April 2012 while the second and third were conducted in September 2013 and January 2015, respectively.
President Pranab Mukherjee wrote on Twitter than the missile "will enhance our strategic and deterrence capabilities".
The strike ranges of earlier versions of the Agni missiles are: Agni 1 – 700 km, Agni 2 – 2,000 km, Agni 3 and Agni 4 – 2,500 km to more than 3500 km. However, the latest prototype, a three-stage missile puts India into the exclusive league of nations that comprises the US, Russia, China, France and the UK, which are armed with such long-range missiles in their arsenals.