Journal : Global Times (Chinese) Date : Author : Special correspondent Chen Yang Page No. : 8

For a long time, India has been struggling with its lack of strategic deterrence measures against the entire territory of China. This kind of anxiety has risen particularly after the continued conflict in the border area between China and India in 2020. “New Indian Express” stated on the 4th that India’s “Agni-5” intercontinental missile with the longest range and attack range covering the entire Asia and half of Europe is about to enter service. This means that India will join the “Intercontinental Missile Elite Club” and become the world’s No. Eight country with intercontinental strike capabilities.

Chinese factors speed up development of “Agni-5” 

According to reports, in the past three months, India has successfully launched as many as 30 various missiles. “In 2021, India will deploy the Agni-5 ballistic missile with the longest range and greatest nuclear deterrence”. This ballistic missile with a range of more than 5,000 kilometers makes India the eighth country in the world with intercontinental strike capability. Indian defense strategy analysts had previously planned to put the Agni-5 missile into service as soon as possible, and “China’s actions on the Line of Actual Control” accelerated this process.

A source from the Indian Ministry of Defense said that this kind of indigenously developed, “game-changing” missile is undergoing pre-deployment testing, and it will be deployed to a strategic location selected by the Indian army. India’s “Swarajya Mag” website stated on the 5th that, unlike the open-air display during the previous test launch or military parade, the officially deployed “Agni-5” intercontinental missile is placed in the launch tube and carried by the heavy transport-launcher, maneuvering fast on the highway. This state-of-the-art ballistic missile deployment method not only simplifies the maintenance and pre-launch preparation of the missile, but also provides the necessary operational flexibility for the Indian army. It can be quickly transferred in a short time and avoid continuous tracking and attack by potential opponents. .

An Indian military source also revealed: “The delivery of this missile has already begun and mass production is currently underway. It will be officially deployed in the next 3-4 months and is now entering the final test before deployment. The deployment of the missile will pave the way for the development of more long-range missiles, which are in the design and development stage”.

How big is the threat

According to the New Indian Express, the Agni-5 is powered by a three-stage solid fuel rocket. It has a total length of 17 meters and a weight of 50 tons. It can carry a 1.5-ton warhead and has a maximum range of more than 5,000 kilometers, which is enough to cover the entire region of Asia, and half of Europe. It is called “the symbol of technological excellence of the Indian  Defense Research and Development Organization”. It is equipped with a high-precision inertial navigation system based on a ring laser gyro and a miniature inertial navigation system composed of small avionics. It has a fairly high hit accuracy. In addition, the Indian military is also testing a series of new technologies, including the Multiple Independent Target Reentry Vehicle (MIRV), which enables multiple sub-warheads to be carried by the intercontinental missiles and fly out to different targets hundreds of kilometers apart, greatly enhancing the opponent’s difficulties in interception.

However, a Chinese expert interviewed by the Huanqiu Shibao said that India’s definition of “intercontinental missile” has long puzzled the outside world. According to international practice, the range of intercontinental missiles should be more than 8,000 kilometers, while the actual range of “Agni-5” has not exceeded 5,000 kilometers in repeated flight tests since 2012. The official statement of the Defense Research and Development Organization of India admitted that the missile has a range of about 5,000 kilometers, and the planned “Agni-6” intercontinental missile will have a maximum range of 8,000 kilometers. The Indian media mentioned that “India has become the eighth country in the world with intercontinental missiles”. It is very likely that 5,000 kilometers range will be used as the yardstick for intercontinental missiles. Previously, apart from the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China, only North Korea and Israel have tested s of ballistic missiles of 5,000 kilometer range.

Experts say that the Agni-5 is not advanced from an overall perspective. For example, in terms of key indicators, the US-Russian solid-fuel intercontinental missile weighs only about 40 tons, but it is enough to strike targets 10,000 kilometers away. “Agni-5” suffered from a technological gap for decades. However, the “Agni-5” gave India the ability to strike across China for the first time. In addition, the missile’s road-maneuver deployment model greatly enhanced India’s strategic deterrence capabilities. It should be said that it deserves our attention.

Second strategic nuclear submarine about to enter service

In addition to stepping up the deployment of the “Agni-5” intercontinental missile, India’s “ThePrint” website stated on the 5th that the second strategic nuclear submarine of the Indian Navy is also expected to enter service early this year. According to reports, the nuclear submarine has a displacement of about 6,000 tons and is currently undergoing final sea trials. After it enters service, India will have two strategic nuclear submarines, each carrying four K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missiles with a range of 750 kilometers. They enable a ‘second strike’ capability after India has suffered a nuclear attack. In addition to these, India also plans to continue to build two strategic nuclear submarines with larger tonnage and capable of carrying more missiles.

Although neither the Indian nuclear submarine itself nor the submarine-launched ballistic missiles it carries can be compared with similar weapons of nuclear powers, the report still preaches that in 2018, India’s strategic nuclear submarine officially began underwater cruises, and that India had thus acquired the “triad” nuclear strike capability of delivering nuclear weapons in the air and underwater that was previously possessed only by the United States, Russia and China.

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