Don’t you love it when we get all virile? On Wednesday, we put another sock down our front with the announcement that India will be test-firing the sleek, we-can-already-feel-it-throb Agni V surface-to-surface ballistic missile “within a year”. Why would India, already a big boy in the akhada, want to have this mighty ‘bazooka’ in its already enviable arsenal? Well, because, like Mount Everest, it’s there. And, of course, as Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief V.K. Saraswat pointed out tellingly, “after Agni III and Agni V, as far as cities in China and Pakistan are concerned, there will be no target that we want to hit but can’t”. At last we feel comforted in our strengths against our not-always-neighbourly neighbours.
The Agni V has a reported range of 5,000 kilometres-plus making it, if the test-firing is successful, India’s first Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). But, of course,
Mr Saraswat let the real kitty out of the bag when he said that the point of Agni V is not to have the missile cross our continent but to reach cities in “Pakistan and China”. As he elaborated, India’s ballistic missile defence (BMD) programme is one area where “we are senior to China”. India had known what the Chinese were up to when the latter shot down a satellite (their own) in 2007. But the DRDO boys have been working with their toys since 1999, so...
The DRDO will also be conducting a test of its endo-atmospheric (within the atmosphere) interceptor missile, the advanced air defence (AAD) by the end of this month. This will be followed by a test involving an exo-atmospheric (outside the atmosphere) interceptor missile. Once the two are ‘integrated’ India will have a bad boy with a hit-to-kill probability of 99.8 per cent. Hoo-hah! As for Agni V, our first ICBM, it’ll top the Chinese, so what if they’re already sitting pretty with their up-and-running missiles that have a superior range. You just watch out for Agni V at the next Republic Day parade now.