India set to test its long-distance missile

Agni IV missile is on display during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2012.

Story highlights

  • The launch of the missile is expected between Wednesday and Friday
  • The missile is called Agni, which means "fire" in Hindi
  • "It's the most advanced missile so far," official says

India plans the maiden test flight this week of its longest-range nuclear-capable missile, which can travel more than 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles), military officials said.

The Agni V rocket could be launched between Wednesday and Friday, said Ravi Gupta, the spokesman for the country's Defense Research and Development Organization.

"It's the most advanced missile so far," he said.

In November, India successfully tested the fourth version of Agni, meaning "fire" in Hindi, with a range of 3,500 km. Built years earlier, Agni I could travel 700 km, according to Indian defense authorities.

India says that it pursues no aggressive designs and that its military program is based on building a credible minimum deterrent with a "no-first-use" policy.

"Our missiles are purely for deterrence," said Gupta.

The flight of Agni V would be a significant move to demonstrate India's technological competence, said Uday Bhaskar, a strategic expert.

But the home-grown missile, he said, would undergo several tests more before it becomes fully operational.

"Yet, the first test of Agni V will enhance India's technological profile," he said.

A successful experiment, Bhaskar said, would bring India closer to the group of nations capable of building intercontinental missiles. Currently, the five permanent member nations of the U.N. Security Council are thought to have developed such technology, he said.