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India tests new generation nuclear-capable ballistic missile

The Agni Prime can hit targets at a range of 1,000 to 2,000km

India has successfully test-fired a new generation of nuclear-capable ballistic missile – Agni Prime – off the coast of the eastern Indian state of Odisha earlier this week, the military said on Thursday. 

The missile has a strike range of 1,000 to 2,000km and is the smallest of the Agni series due to technological advancements, according to Indian media. 

The test was conducted jointly by the country’s Strategic Forces Command (SFC), which comprises personnel from the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force, and the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

“The test met all the trial objectives validating its reliable performance, as confirmed from the data captured by a number of range sensors deployed at different locations, including two downrange ships placed at the terminal point,” the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

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The Agni Prime is a medium-range surface-to-surface missile and is the latest addition to the Agni 1 to 4 series that have ranges of 700 to 3,500km and have already been deployed, the PTI reported. The new generation missile benefits from several advanced sensors, navigation, and guidance systems, and is the lightest and smallest of the Agni series, according to The Print.

The first pre-induction night launch of the Agni Prime was conducted on June 7, 2023. Wednesday’s launch was the second test. Once the tests are successfully completed, the missile will be included in the Indian Army’s arsenal. Defense Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated the agencies on the successful test, saying the Agni Prime will be an “excellent force multiplier” for the armed forces.

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The development was reported weeks after India conducted the first test flight of the locally developed Agni 5 missile equipped with Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle technology. These warheads can be directed from a single missile at enemy targets thousands of kilometers apart, making them much more difficult to defend against.

The upgrade will have a range of 5,000km and is considered to be India’s response to potential threats in the region, according to the national media. Pralay, a surface-to-surface short-range missile similar to Russia’s Iskander, is also being readied for deployment along the disputed borders with China and Pakistan, reports last year indicated.

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