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Agni-V ICBM a game-changing deterrence for India but all eyes on 12,000-km range Agni-VI/Surya ICBM !!

Source : Sputnik India

Agni-V ICBM a game-changing deterrence for India but all eyes on 12,000-km range Agni-VI/Surya ICBM !!

Earlier this week, India joined a select band of nations, including Russia, China, and the US, to have a Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) technology. Sputnik India examines how this successful test could be a game-changer for New Delhi.

India’s latest test of the Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), having MIRV capabilities will take the South Asian nation’s nuclear deterrence capability to the next level, a military veteran has said.

The comments by Air Marshal (Retd) M. Matheswaran came only hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised scientists from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the MIRV’s successful launch, which is being viewed as a game-changer for the security of the world’s largest democratic state.

In this context, Matheswaran explains that being a nuclear weapon state serves as a deterrent against adversaries attempting to coerce a nation using nuclear weapons.

Indian IRBM ICBM and SLBMs details
Indian Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles and Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles

India’s No-First-Use Nuclear Policy Demands Credible Second-Strike Capability

The retired IAF officer emphasized that India’s nuclear deterrence policy is centred around a no-first-use principle, which requires a highly credible second-strike capability to be displayed.

“Obviously, when one looks at the country’s nuclear doctrine if anyone attacks India, its forces, or its assets inside its territory or even outside, it would retaliate with massive force and when one is talking about massive retaliation, one needs very large capabilities,” Matheswaran told Sputnik India on Tuesday.

He believes that the MIRV technology is crucial because India should not rely on a single missile attack, particularly when it would require multiple missiles strategically placed across different locations. With MIRV capabilities, just one missile from India would be able to target and engage with 4-5, or even up to 10, different targets simultaneously.

The Russian, American, and Chinese MIRVs carry 10 missiles each and that is the kind of capability they have, the defence expert stressed.

In this image made from Indian Ministry of Defense video, India's the Agni-V missile is launched from Wheeler Island off India's east coast, Thursday, April 19, 2012.   - Sputnik India, 1920, 12.03.2024
In this image made from Indian Ministry of Defense video, India’s the Agni-V missile is launched from Wheeler Island off India’s east coast, Thursday, April 19, 2012. (Image © AP Photo)

MIRV Adds Muscle to India’s Offensive Might Against Its Enemies

“This is literally like attacking with independent nuclear weapons on each target but one is launching it through a single missile and then at a certain point in time these independently targeted re-entry vehicles, peel off and then attack different targets in a range of 200 to 500 kilometers from the point that which they separate themselves. This means, one’s ability to attack increases manifold, which is a very strategic capability to be demonstrated,” he added.

The retired military officer empahsised that it is the right path that India has embarked on. This is all gradually progressing towards multiple capabilities.

“I presume this is the first test of the MIRV, and there are a series of many more tests that will have to be done to perfect the whole process, and as I understand this is for four or five targets. Although, no official announcement is there that is the premise and the next step will be to increase the number,” the geopolitics analyst, who serves as the president of Chennai-based think-tank, The Peninsula Foundation, highlighted.

India Eyes 12,000-km Range Agni-VI/Surya ICBM

According to his assessment, the Agni-V boasts a range of over 5,000 kilometres. India must now strive towards developing an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile with a range of 12,000 kilometres, capable of reaching any location on the planet.

Also, Matheswaran spoke about the possible ramifications of India’s maiden MIRV test vis-a-vis Pakistan.

Agni Missile Series and its ranges

He noted that Pakistan does not have a no-first-use policy as far as nuclear weapons are concerned.

The Pakistan Factor in India’s MIRV Test

Matheswaran explained that they have publicly declared their intent to use nuclear weapons if their survival is at risk. In such a scenario, prioritising a first-use policy means that Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle (MIRV) capability is not as critical as other components that must be developed for first-use purposes.

“Technology-wise, I think the MIRV is more complex and I don’t think Pakistan has that capability. Pakistan’s nuclear capability itself has come with China’s assistance and indirect American help to a large extent. While they may have developed indigenous capabilities significantly after that, MIRV is still a far-fetched game for them,” he opined.

Matheswaran assessed that due to Pakistan’s strategic partnership with China, they may not be interested in pursuing a Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle (MIRV) system. Instead, they are more likely to focus on developing tactical nuclear weapons, missiles, and a sea-based deterrent, as they have not yet developed one.

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