New Delhi: India will by this year-end test its 5,000-km intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), often termed the "China killer" for its ability to reach the northernmost areas of that country, the head of a premier defence research agency said on Friday when Defence Minister A.K. Antony Friday asked for the expeditious development of the Agni-V missile system.
"DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) has developed a spectrum of missiles with a different range and payload capability. Now, DRDO must demonstrate its capability to reach a range of 5,000 km at the earliest, Antony said at a function at the research agency.
DRDO chief V.K. Saraswat, who was present beside Antony, said Agni-V will be tested by the end of this year.
Antony also asked the agency to also develop a "credible" Ballistice Missile Defence (BMD) system to intercept enemy missiles that may target India, thereby taking the county into an elite club of nations such as the US.
"The interceptor missile development programme has taken India into an elite club of nations that possess the capability to demonstrate and deploy missile defence. DRDO should now work towards developing a credible ballistic missile defence for our country," Antony told the gathering of defence scientists.
India is in the process of developing its own BMD system and has carried out six tests in the last two years, of which four have been successful.
The BMD programme comprises a two-tiered system called Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) for high-altitude interception at 50-80 km and Advanced Air Defence (AAD) for low-altitude interception 15-30 km.
India has also inducted its latest 3,000-km Agni-III missile into the armed forces and has begun serialised production of the weapon system.
Agni-III, Saraswat pointed out, is an inducted missile. "So there is no confusion whether or when it will be inducted. Agni-III is an inducted missile. It has completed its complete development and is under production," he added.