India set to test upgraded ballistic missile in 2009

NEW DELHI, January 7 (RIA Novosti) – India will test fire a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with the range of up to 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) in the beginning of 2009, a senior defense research official said on Monday.

The new missile, dubbed as Agni III+ is an upgraded version of the Agni III intermediate-range ballistic missile developed by India. Agni III has a range of up to 4,000 km (about 2,500 miles) and can carry a single nuclear warhead.

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“We have scheduled the [ICBM] test for the beginning of 2009,” said Vijay Kumar Saraswat, program director for ballistic missile development at the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

Agni-III is the third in the Agni series of missiles. The Agni I has a range of 700-800 km (up to 500 miles), while the Agni-II as a range of 2,000-2,500 km (1,500 miles). They are claimed to be a part of the “credible deterrence” against China and Pakistan.

Sarasvat also said India had been developing the Agni IV ICBM with the range of 6,000 km (over 3,700 miles). The tests of the new missile have been scheduled for 2010, the official said.