India on Saturday used a mobile launcher to successfully test-fire its most potent missile, the Agni-V, which has a strike range of more than 5,000 km and can deliver a nuclear warhead of over one-tonne-deep inside China.
The three-stage missile that was launched from a canister mounted on a truck at Wheeler Island off Odisha coast can travel faster than a bullet despite weighing nearly 50 tonnes and the new delivery mechanism gives the armed forces increased operational flexibility, experts said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed scientists from the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) for the success and said the missile was an asset for the country's forces.
"This is a momentous occasion. It is India's first ever inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch from a canister and a giant leap in the country's deterrent capability," said outgoing DRDO chief Avinash Chander.
Defence analysts said the canister would give the missile full road or rail mobility, lending a great deal of stealth and resilience to the country's strategic strike capability.
India carried out two successful tests of the basic version of Agni-V in 2012 and 2013. DRDO officials said this advanced model, work on which began in 2009, is likely to be inducted next year.(With Agency inputs)