India test-fires Agni-V missile amid border tensions with China

India has successfully test-fired a long-range nuclear-capable missile, according to a government minister, as New Delhi aims to boost its defence capabilities amid border tensions with China.

The test was carried out to validate new technologies and equipment on the missile that are now lighter than before.This was the latest test in the Agni missile series, and defence sources added that the trial has proved the ability to augment the range of the Agni V missile.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile was fired on Thursday from Abdul Kalam Island in eastern Odisha state.

“The missile will add great value to the defence and strengthen national security to a greater extent,” Joshi tweeted, citing its range of 5,400km (3,300 miles) or more.

Ahead of the test, Indian authorities issued a notification and declared the Bay of Bengal as a no-fly zone, said Indian media reports, adding that its range covers almost the entire China mainland.

Fresh tensions arose between India and China following clashes between their army soldiers on December 9 along their disputed border in Arunachal Pradesh state.

India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said no Indian soldiers were seriously hurt and troops from both sides withdrew from the area soon afterwards. A statement from the Indian army on Monday said troops on both sides suffered minor injuries.

The missile test firing was conducted at around 5.30pm from APJ Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast.

The existing variant of Agni IV is capable of hitting targets at a range of 4,000km, while Agni III can hit 3,000km and Agni II can fly up to 2,000km.The night trials of Agni IV ballistic missile were carried out in June this year in a boost to India’s military capabilities.

In May, India test fired the extended range version of the BrahMos missile from a Su-30MKI aircraft. A month before, an anti-ship version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was successfully test fired jointly by the Indian Navy and the Andaman and Nicobar Command.

The defence ministry said that the successful test of Agni V is in line with the country’s state policy to have “credible minimum deterrence” that underlines the commitment to “No First Use”.India had launched the last Agni V test last year in October.

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