India Tests Long Range Rocket
Indian Missile Launch Shows Shrinking Weapons Gap

India's long range solid fueled missile was 80% made in India.

Amiel Ungar,

Agni V
Agni V

India's Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO) successively tested the new Agni V long-range ballistic missile. It has a range of 3500 km, a radius that provides the capability to strike the Chinese heartland, as well as the extremely hypothetical option of hitting Eastern and Central Europe and most of Russia.

The Indian press chose to emphasize the repercussions for China of the successful test. Due to its proximity to Pakistan, India already has the capability of launching nuclear tipped missiles at Pakistan (and Pakistan can do the same to India), therefore China was the reason behind the missile's development.

M. Natarajan, former head of the DRDO, who had made a significant contribution to the entire missile program and was signaled out by defense minister A. K.  Antony, claimed that the missile provided India with a second strike capability. Without specifically mentioning China, he said that India has "no idea of going as far as the Americans."

Indian leaders exulted that their country now has a capability matched only by the 5 permanent members of the Security Council and - reportedly - Israel.  Since the Indian Congress party is reeling from an economic downturn and corruption scandals, the successful launch was a welcome development and they made the most of the PR.

While the Indians concede that China still commands a superior arsenal, they were miffed when the Chinese press continued to trumpet China's superiority.

For example, Global Times, the English version of People's Daily wrote "India should not overestimate its strength. Even if it has missiles that could reach most parts of China, that does not mean it will gain anything from being arrogant during disputes with China. India should be clear that China's nuclear power is stronger and more reliable. For the foreseeable future, India would stand no chance in an overall arms race with China."

India replied the Indian press would not be deterred by the Chinese derision and the country would pursue its national interest.

India has been on an arms shopping spree as it seeks to replace its outdated arsenal.

The new missile runs on solid fuel and can be fired from a mobile launcher, which shows that India may already be closing the technology gap and like China, is on the verge of developing its own weapons industry.  Natarajan emphasized this point as well, claiming that 80% of the missile was made in India which should provide a confidence boost. "Indigenisation will give the comfort to the country,  that we can produce our weapons without much restrictions,"