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India Ready To Test The Agni-3

file photo of an Indian Agni missile
By Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington DC (UPI) Feb 08, 2006
Indian defense officials say their most powerful and long-range ballistic missile yet, the Agni-III, is finally ready to be test-fired.

Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) chief M. Natarajan told reporters last week that the 2,100-mile range missile capable of targeting more of China than any previous Indian strategic weapon was ready for testing, the Indo-Asian News Service reported Friday.

"We have done all the technical tasks for a project of this nature," Natarajan said Friday at the 2006 Defexno arms fair in New Delhi. "But when it will be fired, how it will be fired, and where it will be fired is a decision that has to be taken at a higher level," he said.

Two shorter-range versions of the indigenously developed Agni with ranges of 420 miles and 1,500 miles have already entered service with the Indian armed forces. But the far more ambitious Agni-III is designed to carry a one-ton conventional or nuclear warhead. Also, it is powered by solid fuels that are essential for rapid deployment and firing -- a crucial capability in India's ever more complex strategic nuclear arms race with neighboring Pakistan.

Like the smaller, earlier versions of the missile, the Agni-III is expected to be road and rail mobile, making it more difficult for Pakistan to wipe out the force in any preemptive first strike. "This allows the missiles to be scattered all over India before being moved to a launch site by road or rail," IANS said.

However, the news agency said India was not expected to test the new missile before President George W. Bush's scheduled visit to the country next month.

Source: United Press International

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