Successful take a look at of Agni 5 and its strategic significance

The profitable take a look at of Agni-5, the long-range surface-to-surface Nuclear Capable Ballistic missile, on Wednesday is critical from two points — one, as sturdy strategic signalling to China amid ongoing stand-off in Eastern Ladakh sector and two, it was the primary time that the missile was fired at evening, thus proving the flexibility of the already operational system. Here is a fast explainer.

The Test on Wednesday

The profitable launch of Agni-5, which makes use of a three-stage solid-fuelled engine, was carried out on Wednesday at round 7.50 pm. The missile is able to carrying nuclear warheads and might strike targets at ranges as much as 5,000 km with a excessive diploma of accuracy. After the take a look at, the Ministry of Defence mentioned, “The successful test of Agni-5 is in line with India’s stated policy to have ‘credible minimum deterrence’ that underpins the commitment to ‘No First Use’.”

Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the missile is already inducted into providers and is operated by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC). SFC is a key tri-services formation that manages and administers all of the strategic forces and falls below the purview of the Nuclear Command Authority of India. The take a look at on Wednesday was carried out and monitored by the SFC.

In December 2018, a profitable take a look at of Agni-5 was carried out by the SFC. Earlier that 12 months, two extra exams of Agni-5 have been carried out in January and June.

A senior DRDO scientist mentioned, “Every test of such complex system is an opportunity for the user — the SFC in this case and the developer — the DRDO, to study and track the performance of the system in different settings and with different parameters. The test on Wednesday was conducted at night, thus proving the versatility of this complex system. It is yet another proof of its all-weather capabilities.”

Like all different exams, the flight efficiency of the missile was tracked and monitored by radars, vary stations and monitoring techniques all via the mission.

The strategic signalling

Test carried out on Wednesday is being checked out sturdy strategic posturing in the direction of China within the context of a 17-month lengthy stand-off that began from April final 12 months. In an analogous strategic messaging effort in September and October final 12 months, India had carried out a flurry of missile exams, in one of the crucial action-packed months of the DRDO’s historical past. The missiles examined throughout this era have been essential for the capabilities of land assault, air defence and maritime warfare.

The take a look at additionally must be checked out within the context of a take a look at of nuclear-capable hypersonic glide car carried out by China in August this 12 months that circled the globe earlier than rushing in the direction of its goal, as first reported by the Financial Times earlier this month. The report acknowledged that the Chinese navy had launched a rocket that carried a hypersonic glide car, which flew via low-orbit area earlier than cruising down in the direction of its goal.

“India has been working towards strengthening its nuclear triad and such tests are a strong reminder to the adversaries about our capabilities,” mentioned a senior Army officer.

The Agni Missile Family

The identify Agni originates from the Sanskrit phrase for hearth and is taken within the context of Agni being one of many 5 main parts of Panch Mahabhutas. Others are Prithvi (Earth), Aapa (Water), Vayu (Air), Akash (Space). Of these names, Prithvi and Akash have been given to missiles developed by the DRDO.

The growth of Agni missiles began in early 1980 below the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme spearheaded by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the central determine in India’s missile and area programmes, who additionally served because the 11th President of India.

Medium to Intercontinental variations of Agni missiles techniques 1 to five have various ranges, ranging from 700 km from Agni-1 to five,000 km and above for Agni-5. In June this 12 months, the DRDO, efficiently examined the brand new technology nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni P, which is a complicated variant of the Agni class of missiles. Agni P is a canisterised missile with a variety functionality between 1,000 and a pair of,000 km.

While the DRDO has not formally declared, Agni-6 can be mentioned to be below growth with a for much longer vary beginning 8,000 km and has a number of independently targetable re-entry car (MIRV) carrying capabilities.

No First Use posture and India’s nuclear doctrine

After the Wednesday’s take a look at, the MoD highlighted the posture of ‘credible minimum deterrence’ and ‘No First Use’ that are pivotal factors of India’s nuclear doctrine, first revealed in 2003.

The pointers from the doctrine are: Building and sustaining a reputable minimal deterrent. The posture of ‘No First Use’, which means nuclear weapons will solely be utilized in retaliation in opposition to a nuclear assault on Indian territory or Indian forces wherever. The nuclear retaliation to a primary strike will likely be large and designed to ‘inflict unacceptable damage.’

The doctrine additionally states that nuclear retaliatory assaults can solely be authorised by the civilian political management via the Nuclear Command Authority. While India maintains the ‘Non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states’, the doctrine states that ‘in the event of a major attack against India, or Indian forces anywhere, by biological or chemical weapons, India will retain the option of retaliating with nuclear weapons.’