India conducted a night test of the nuclear-capable Prithvi-II ballistic missile, which has a strike range of 350-km, from the integrated test range at Chandipur, off the Odisha coast, on Wednesday.
Defence sources described the trial as a “routine, periodic exercise” carried out by the Strategic Forces Command after randomly picking a missile from the stockpile in a mission to revalidate night-firing capabilities.
“The missile, which was launched from a mobile launcher at 7.30 pm, achieved all targeting and technical parameters in a textbook manner. The flight path was monitored by radars, telemetry stations and a ship deployed near the designated splashdown in the Bay of Bengal,” said a source.
The liquid-fuelled Prithvi, which was the first nuclear-capable missile to be inducted into the tri-Service SFC in 2003, can carry 500 to 1,000-kg payloads. The surface-to-surface missile was later equipped with improved high accuracy navigation and manoeuvring systems.
The SFC, of course, also has the more advanced solid-fueled missiles like the Agni-I (700-km), Agni-II (2,000-km) and Agni-III (3,000-km). The three-stage Agni-V, the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile with a strike range of over 5,000-km, is also being inducted to act as a deterrent against China.
Agni-V brings the whole of China -- including its northernmost city of Habin – and Asia as well as parts of Europe, Africa and Australia within its strike envelope. While some Sukhoi-30MKI, Mirage-2000 and Jaguar fighters have been jury-rigged to make them capable of delivering bombs, the third leg of the “nuclear triad” is represented by the nuclear ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant.
INS Arihant became fully operational in November 2018 after completing its first “deterrence patrol” to complete the country’s long-awaited capability to fire nuclear weapons from land, air and sea.
The liquid-fuelled Prithvi, which was the first nuclear capable missile to be inducted into the tri-Service SFC in 2003, can carry 500 to 1,000-kg payloads