Close on the heels of India's successful test of Agni-V, its first long-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile, Pakistan has alerted India of its plans to conduct a similar launch very soon.
Islamabad said it would conduct a long-range missile test in the Indian Ocean anytime from April 24 to 29 (from 8.30 to 11 am IST) and has informed Indian civil aviation authorities to notify commercial airlines to steer clear of the area, a Deccan Chronicle report said.
Gulf-bound flights from India may have to be rescheduled or rerouted if the Indian civil aviation authority issues a NOTAM (Notices To Airmen), which needs to be communicated to the Pakistani officials.
Pakistan is reportedly developing Shaheen, a long-range missile that is believed to be capable of clocking 4,000-4,500 kilometers.
The recently launched Agni-V, which has significantly leveraged Indian military's might, has a range of more than 5,000 kilometers and will be able to target parts of northern China and eastern Europe and, of course, the bordering Pakistan.
Agni-V is 17m long, 2m wide and weighs 50 tons and it can carry a payload of 1 ton. It is an upgraded version of the indigenously built Agni series powered by solid rocket propellants. India had earlier successfully test-fired Agni-I (700km), Agni-II (over 2,000km), Agni-III (3,500-5,000km) and Agni-IV (of 2,500-3,500km). It may take some more years for India to test a missile clocking over 10,000 kilometers.
The test flight has catapulted India into the league of nations with intercontinental missile capabilities such as China, Russia, France, the US, Great Britain and Israel.
India's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) maintained that the missile launch is not to threaten any particular nation and is purely defensive.
This is a deterrent to avoid wars and it is not country-specific, DRDO spokesperson Ravi Gupta said. Besides, India has a no-first-use policy, he said, adding that the country's missile development program is purely defensive.
Agni-V primarily addresses India's defense concerns with respect to the potential threat from China. However, Pakistan, clearly is one of the security threats New Delhi needs to be wary about. India's former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had named China and Pakistan and their allies as potential threats that impelled India's nuclear test series in May 1998.
A bilateral arms race between India and China is bound to acquire trilateral dimensions due to ongoing border dispute between India and Pakistan, the historic rival attitudes, unstable democracy in Pakistan and the proximity between the three nations.