Chinese experts believe that India has downplayed the capability of its new nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni-V. Du Wenlong, a researcher at China's PLA Academy of Military Sciences has told Global Times that Agni-V is more powerful than what is being claimed by New Delhi.
Agni-V actually has the potential to reach targets 8,000 kilometers away, but the Indian government had deliberately downplayed the missile's capability in order to avoid causing concern to other countries, Global Times reported quoting Wenlong.
A debate is on among defense experts whether Agni-V is an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) or an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM). The officially declared range of 5,000 kilometers makes it an IRBM because, as per international standards, to qualify as an ICBM, the range of the missile should be 5,500 kilometers.
Global Times quoting Zhang Zhaozhong, a professor with the People's Liberation Army National Defense University, reported that according to Chinese standards, an ICBM should have a range of at least 8,000 kilometers. The Agni-V's range could be further enhanced to become an ICBM, but with the present range it is an IRBM.
Although, Chinese state-run media has slammed India over its missile program after the successful launch, the Chinese government was extremely cautious in giving out its reaction.
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The Chinese government said that both the countries enjoyed sound relations and were not rivals, PTI reported.
However, with the successful launch of the missile with a range of 3,100 miles, India has joined the elite club of countries with 5,000 kilometer-range nuclear missile capability. Only five countries - the US, the UK, Russia, France and China - have such long-range missiles.
The nuclear warhead-enabled Agni-V is 17 m long, 2 m wide. It weighs 50 tons, with a payload capacity of 1 ton.
Agni-V, the most advanced version of the indigenously built Agni series, was powered by solid rocket propellants that could be transported by road, a Reuters report said. The first missile in the series was launched in 1989.
The range of other missiles in the Agni series is: Agni-I (700-km), Agni-II (over 2,000-km), Agni-III (3,500 km- 5,000 km) and Agni-IV (of 2,500-3,500 km).