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India Upgrading Nuclear Missile Capabilities

Paraphrased by Steve Waldrop
August 19, 2002

New Delhi, India- India plans to start production of a nuclear-capable intermediate range missile, said officials of the Indian Defense Ministry.

Speaking anonymously, officials said that the Agni missile, which now is undergoing field trials, will be produced and introduced into the arsenal of the nation's armed forces. The Agni missile project is an ongoing effort to protect India and keep the country secure. The most advanced version of the Agni has a range of 1,500 miles, sufficient to hit most targets in neighboring Pakistan and well into China.

The government also announced it would begin production and deployment of the supersonic cruise missile Brahmos, which can be launched from ships, submarines and planes.

The Brahmos missile, traveling at 2.8 to three times the speed of sound , is three times faster than a subsonic cruise missile such as the Tomahawk of the U.S. It has nine times the kill power because the kill power is proportional to the square of the velocity.

Brahmos is called a cruise missile because it cruises horizontally and travels only in the atmosphere. A ballistic missile travels in a parabolic arc: takes off in the atmosphere, flies into space and re-enters the atmosphere to hit the target.

India's missile arsenal includes army and air force versions of the short-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile Prithvi; the Trishul, a surface-to-air missile that targets aircraft and can counter sea-skimming missiles; and the anti-tank Nag missile.

India also plans to jointly produce 11 advanced light helicopters with Russia and assemble an unspecified number of T-90 tanks from kits imported from Russia.

Introducing these new tanks and missiles were among 15 initiative announced in a government statement to mark the 55th anniversary of India's independence.