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India Joins Small Group Of Nations Able To Fire Multiple Nuclear Warheads Using Single ICBM

India Joins Small Group Of Nations Able To Fire Multiple Nuclear Warheads Using Single ICBM

India this week unveiled the maidan flight test of a new ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads, with an eye on its nuclear-armed neighbors China and India.

Only a handful of countries in the world possess this technology, which features MIRV technology, or “multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles” for the deployment of nuclear warheads. This makes the missile capable of of multiple attacks across different locations based on a single missile launch.

Named the Agni-5, which is Sanskrit for “fire”, the intercontinental ballistic missile being touted as being able to reach targets more than 3,100 miles (or 5,000km) away.

The Wall Street Journal has observed of the significance that “this puts Beijing and its neighborhood within the direct target range of India’s Strategic Forces Command, the dedicated tri-services nuclear force under the direct control of the prime minister, said New Delhi-based defense analyst N.C. Bipindra.”

But this also enables India to strike anywhere in its archrival Pakistan’s territory, which New Delhi has fought no less than three wars with in the last century.

The nuclear watchdog Federation of American Scientists (FAS) has issued the following further details

Reports have circulated for two decades about the Indian defense industry working on MIRV technology. Some have suggested that a MIRV capability might exist for the Agni-3 medium-range missile, which is currently being fielded with the Indian army, but this has not yet been confirmed. Unconfirmed press reports also said that an Agni-P medium-range missile test in December 2021 carried two reentry vehicles to simulate MIRV capability.

The Indian government says that the latest Agni-5 test––named Mission Divyastra––was the first time that this missile had successfully demonstrated MIRV technology. If so, it will likely take several additional flight tests to complete the development of an operational MIRV capability for the Agni-5. Yet the test-launch demonstration of MIRV capability on the Agni-5 with a significantly modified payload section marks a significant development for India’s nuclear posture, and faster than we anticipated just a few years ago.

This first successful test flight has come after many years of rumors that India was on the cusp of achieving MIRV technology, which so far is only possessed by the US, Russia, China and France. According to more from FAS:

Reports have circulated for two decades about the Indian defense industry working on MIRV technology. Some have suggested that a MIRV capability might exist for the Agni-3 medium-range missile, which is currently being fielded with the Indian army, but this has not yet been confirmed. Unconfirmed press reports also said that an Agni-P medium-range missile test in December 2021 carried two reentry vehicles to simulate MIRV capability.

The Indian government says that the latest Agni-5 test––named Mission Divyastra––was the first time that this missile had successfully demonstrated MIRV technology. If so, it will likely take several additional flight tests to complete the development of an operational MIRV capability for the Agni-5. Yet the test-launch demonstration of MIRV capability on the Agni-5 with a significantly modified payload section marks a significant development for India’s nuclear posture, and faster than we anticipated just a few years ago.

India of course has long had intense border and territorial disputes with both China and Pakistan, and also regularly enters into religiously inspired verbal altercations with Pakistan officials (Hindus vs. Muslims), with latter being concerned over India’s treatment of its sizeable Muslim population.


Wed, 03/13/2024 – 21:20

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