This photograph released by the Indian Ministry of Defense shows India's Agni-V missile being launched from Wheeler Island off India's east coast, Thursday, April 19, 2012.
This photograph released by the Indian Ministry of Defense shows India's Agni-V missile being launched from Wheeler Island off India's east coast, Thursday, April 19, 2012. Anonymous/Associated Press
Less than a week after North Korea's unsuccessful satellite launch, India has managed a "flawless" test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The Agni-V was launched from Wheeler Island off India's east coast and hit its target area off the coast of Indonesia about 20 minutes later.
The 55-foot-tall Agni, Sanskrit for "Fire", is said to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and with a range of 3,100 miles and could hit targets inside China. India fought a bitter border war with Beijing in the early 1960s and still considers China — and of course neighbor Pakistan — military rivals.
It was the first time that India had tested a three-stage solid-fueled missile. In contrast, North Korea's test last week involved a three-stage liquid-fueled rocket.
For decades, New Delhi has been honing its space launch and ballistic missile capability. It has deployed short- and medium-range missiles, a ship-based cruise missile and is able to put its own satellites into orbit.
"With this missile launch, India has emerged as a major missile power," Defense Ministry science advisor V.K. Sarawat told The Hindu newspaper. "We have joined a select group of countries possessing technology to design, develop, build and manufacture long range missiles of this class and technological complexity."
The Hindu says the missile was tipped with a dummy payload but that it would be capable of carrying a 1.1 ton nuclear warhead.