Countdown to India's big Agni leap begins
The countdown to test-firing Agni-5, India's first inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), between April 18 and 24 has begun. India is scheduled to issue air and shipping advisories on Tuesday afternoon for the launch of the missile in the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean.
Successful test-firing of the Agni-5 will catapult India to a hyper-exclusive club that now counts only the United States, Russia and China as members. It will be a huge strategic leap and give India capability to target all of Asia, including the northernmost parts of China and large parts of Europe as well.Government sources said that the Indian Navy is expected to issue a world-wide notam (acronym for 'notice to airmen') on Tuesday, asking ships and aircraft to steer clear of the area on account of missile firing during the scheduled period.
The three stage solid-fuelled 50-tonne missile will be launched off Wheeler Island in Odisha and is expected to reach its target area in southern Indian Ocean
Defence minister AK Antony is expected to be present for the launch.
Official sources said that the missile will be test-fired over the full-range of 5,000 km and will be monitored by DRDO scientists from launch to the point of impact in order to study its accuracy.
Once the missile is inducted into India's strategic forces in the next three years, New Delhi will acquire deterrent capacity against China.
India's strategic establishment has been eagerly waiting for the Agni-5 ICBM since Beijing started deploying strategic missiles in Tibet and Xinjiang autonomous regions against India and building capacities of its land forces in the region.
Last year, India discovered multiple missile silos at Xiadulla across the Karakoram Pass in China's Xinjiang region. Following this, the Indian Air Force has strengthened its air bases along the line of actual control that is the de-facto border with China.