India building 6,000-km N-capable missile
India announced major plans to increase its nuclear capabilities yesterday, saying it was close to testing a ballistic missile capable of hitting targets up to 6,000 kilometres (3,800 miles) away.
Such a distance would nearly double the military's current strike range, putting targets even in Europe within reach, and came one day after neighbouring Pakistan tested a nuclear capable cruise missile.
M Natarajan, who heads the Indian government's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said flight tests of Agni-IV ballistic missiles would begin within months.
"We want to repeat the tests and we have plans for a minimum two such repeats," Natarajan told India's Times Now private television network.
"One, sometime within the first quarter of next year, and another within nine to 12 months," said the chief of the DRDO, which has been developing India's missile arsenal since 1983.
"Although I won't say the exact figure I would reckon the figure of 5,000 to 6,000 kilometres should be quite adequate for the country's needs."
V K Sarswat, head of the DRDO's strategic systems branch, confirmed the Agni-IV was under development while other scientists told AFP it was likely to be fully operational within three years.
India in April tested its longest-range Agni-III missile, capable of reaching targets 3,500 kilometres inside neighbouring China, with Saraswat saying the weapon was being further upgraded.
New Delhi has already deployed two variants of the Agni -- a 700-kilometre (434-mile) Agni-I and the 2,500-kilometre (1,550-mile) range Agni-II after flight-testing both missiles numerous times since 1993.