India Tests First Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
India tested on Thursday its first long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) able to carry a nuclear warhead deep into China or Europe, bringing Delhi into a small club of nations with intercontinental nuclear capability.
Defense Minister A K Antony described the missile’s test as an "immaculate success.”
"The nation stands tall today. We have joined the elite club of nations (possessing ICBM capability)," he told the DRDO head on phone following the launch.
The solid-fuelled Agni-5 missile, with a range of about 5,000 km (3,100 miles), was launched from a test facility at Wheeler Island off the eastern state of Odisha at 8:07 am local time (02:37 GMT). It took the missile 15 minutes to reach its target in the Indian Ocean.
"India has emerged from this launch as a major missile power," the head of India's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), Vijay Saraswat, was quoted as telling the Times Now news channel.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the maiden flight of the Agni-5 “represents another milestone in our quest for our security, preparedness and to explore the frontiers of science.”
Only the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - China, France, Russia, the United States and Britain, along with Israel, have so far possessed such long-range missiles.
It took the DRDO four years to develop the missile.
The launch was due to take place last night, but was postponed because of bad weather and heavy lightning.
Source: MOSCOW, RIA Novosti News - March 19, 2012 (en.rian.ru)
Photo: The solid-fuelled Agni-5 missile. (© AFP/ Defence Ministry of India)