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India test-fires missile amid perceived threats from China, Pakistan

NEW DELHI: India tested its longest-range intercontinental missile on Thursday, the defence ministry said, part of efforts to build a nuclear deterrent against neighbouring Pakistan and China.

The 5,000-km range (3,107-mile) Agni missile was tested from an island in India’s eastern coast in the Bay of Bengal, the ministry said on its official Twitter account.

It said the launch was “a major boost to the defence capabilities” of India.

The Agni-V is an advanced version of the indigenously built Agni, or Fire, series, part of a programme that started in the 1980s. It has been tested previously before.

New Delhi says it faces a twin threat from both bitter foe Pakistan, which is developing a nuclear and missile programme of its own, as well as China. A long-running dispute over the Himalayan border with China has flared in recent years.

Times of India said in its report that the Agni-V was last tested on December 26, 2016, which was then described as the fourth and final experimental test of the three-stage missile. The tri-Service SFC, established in 2003 to manage India’s nuclear arsenal, will have to conduct a few more user-trials before the 50-tonne missile is produced in adequate numbers for induction.

The first test of Agni-5 was conducted on April 19, 2012, the second on September 15, 2013, the third on January 31, 2015 and fourth trial on December 26, 2016 from the same base.

According to NDTV, the three-stage, 17-metre tall, two-metre wide Agni-5 missile is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead of about 1.5 tonnes.

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