India downplays Agni-V missile range, says China

India downplays Agni-V missile range, says China

Was Agni V missile range a deliberate mislead by the government of India?

India has recently conducted a successful test of its nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Agni V, which has raised concerns among its neighbours, especially China. The official range of the missile is said to be 5,000 km, but some experts claim that it can actually reach up to 8,000 km. Was this a deliberate mislead by the government of India to downplay its capabilities or to avoid international scrutiny?

What is Agni V?

Agni V is a three-stage, solid-fuelled, road-mobile, canisterised ICBM developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India. It is the most advanced and longest-range missile in the Agni series, which includes Agni I (700 km), Agni II (2,000 km), Agni III (3,500 km) and Agni IV (4,000 km). Agni V was first tested in 2012 and has since undergone several trials. It is expected to be inducted into the Strategic Forces Command soon.

Agni V is designed to carry a nuclear warhead of up to 1.5 tonnes and can also carry multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs), which can deliver multiple warheads to different targets. The missile uses a ring laser gyroscope inertial navigation system and can be optionally guided by GPS or NavIC satellites. It has a high accuracy of less than 10 m circular error probable (CEP).

Why is Agni V important for India?

Agni V is primarily meant to enhance India's nuclear deterrence against China, which has a large nuclear arsenal and long-range missiles such as Dong Feng-41 (12,000-15,000 km). China also shares a disputed border with India along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), where frequent clashes have occurred in recent years. The latest test of Agni V came just days after a fresh flare-up between Indian and Chinese troops in Arunachal Pradesh's Tawang sector.

Agni V gives India the ability to strike targets across Asia and into Europe, including the northernmost and easternmost parts of China, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Harbin. The missile can be launched from central and southern India, away from the reach of Chinese counter-strikes. The missile also gives India a second-strike capability, as it can be launched from a canister on a truck or a rail platform, making it more mobile and survivable.

Was Agni V range a deliberate mislead?

The official range of Agni V is 5,000 km, which is sufficient to cover most of China. However, some experts have suggested that the actual range of the missile is much higher, around 8,000 km. This is based on the assumption that the DRDO has reduced the weight of the missile by replacing steel with composite materials, and that the government has not tested the missile for its maximum possible range due to political reasons.

The DRDO chief V. K. Saraswat initially declined to disclose the exact range of Agni V, but later described it as a missile with a range of 5,500-8,000 km. Du Wenlong, a researcher at China's PLA Academy of Military Sciences, told the Chinese news agency Global Times that the missile has a range of around 8,000 km. Some analysts have also pointed out that India's stated policy of "credible minimum deterrence" and "no first use" does not require it to reveal its full capabilities or to provoke other countries.

However, there is no conclusive evidence to prove that Agni V range was a deliberate mislead by the government of India. The range of a missile depends on various factors such as payload weight, trajectory angle, atmospheric conditions and accuracy requirements. The DRDO may have tested the missile for different scenarios and configurations, and may have chosen to report the most conservative estimate. The government may have also considered the international implications of declaring a longer range, as it could invite sanctions or criticism from other countries.

Conclusion

Agni V is a significant achievement for India's defence and security, as it provides a credible deterrence against potential adversaries, especially China. The missile has a range of at least 5,000 km, which covers most of China's territory. However, some experts claim that the missile can actually reach up to 8,000 km, which could be a deliberate mislead by the government of India to downplay its capabilities or to avoid international scrutiny. There is no definitive proof to support this claim, as the range of a missile depends on various factors and may vary depending on the test conditions and objectives. India's nuclear doctrine is based on the principles of "credible minimum deterrence" and "no first use", which do not require it to reveal its full capabilities or to provoke other countries.

Source

(1) Agni-V - Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agni-V.

(2) 'Over 7,000km range': Why India's latest Agni V missile trial sends .... https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/over-7000km-range-why-indias-latest-agni-v-missile-trial-sends-strong-signal-to-china/articleshow/96301916.cms.

(3) Explained: The significance of the Agni-V missile trial ... - Firstpost. https://www.firstpost.com/explainers/explained-the-agni-v-missile-china-clashes-11817881.html.

(4) Agni 5 Missile Test explained: India roars back at China after ... - WION. https://www.wionews.com/india-news/agni-5-the-8-things-about-indias-nuclear-capable-ballistic-missile-543619.

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