Dr. Sanjay Badri-Maharaj
The planned fourth test of Agni-V will seek to validate the canister launch system as well as the missile’s performance - enabling a state of readiness.
As a mature nuclear power, it behooves India to be a little clearer as to its current nuclear status, and in the meantime, it is hoped that India pursues its missile testing programme as aggressively as possible.
The long awaited fourth test of India’s Agni-V missile will mark a major milestone in the development of India’s Credible Minimum Deterrent posture (CMD). Expected in late 2015 or early to mid-2016, this test has been delayed for a number of reasons, technical and political. Now reportedly scheduled for either the last week of December (the 26th being mentioned as a possible launch date) or early January 2017, it is to be hoped that nothing prevents the test from being conducted and that it is successful when it finally does take place.
It is pertinent for readers to appreciate the quite dramatic shift that the eventual deployment of the Agni-V will mark in the evolution of the Indian nuclear arsenal. While the first two launches of the Agni-V – on 19 April 2012 and 15 September 2013 respectively – were of the standard Indian uncanisterised missile, following the patter set with the Agni variants I through IV, the last test on 31 January 2015 was of a canisterised system mounted on a road mobile platform. The planned fourth test will seek to validate the canister launch system as well as the missile’s performance.