Photo: Indian Military
When India successfully completed its first nuclear weapon test in 1974, the border war it fought with China just 12 years before must have been fresh in its mind.Now that China’s defence budget has blossomed to $106 billion, nearly three times India’s $40 billion, the perceived threat from China has in no way diminished with the passage of time.
Which is why the news from Ravi Nessman at The Associated Press that India is putting the finishing touches on a missile that can reach deep into China is big news for the increasingly insecure Indian defence forces.
India is though to have about 80 to 100 nuclear weapons that could be readied for launch within anywhere from hours to weeks, but this new Agni-V missile will reach greater distances than anything else before.
The government has hailed the Agni-V missile, with a range of 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles), as a major boost to its efforts to counter China’s regional dominance and become an Asian power in its own right. The test launch was expected to come as early as Wednesday evening.
“It will be a quantum leap in India’s strategic capability,” said Ravi Gupta, spokesman for India’s defence Research and Development organisation, which built the missile.
China already has missiles that can reach far into India, but India’s longest range rocket is only capable of flying about 2,100 miles, falling short of most Chinese cities. Rahul Bedi, a defence analyst in New Delhi told Nessman, “While China doesn’t really consider India any kind of a threat or any kind of a rival, India definitely doesn’t think in the same way.” India has recently dedicated a large portion of its defence budget responding to China’s military buildup. In addition, India is working with the Russian’s to bring their T-50 PAK FA fighter to fruition, while also leasing a Russian nuclear submarine and buying a Soviet-built aircraft carrier.
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