Bouyed by the success of its long-range Agni-V ballistic missile test, India on Friday said it will not 'cap' its three-decade-old programme and continue to develop more missiles in the series with modern, latest technologies.
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Director General Dr. VK Saraswat told a press conference in New Delhi a day after the successful testing of the 5,000-km-range missile that can hit targets deep inside China, including Beijing, that the nuclear-capable weapon was 'a game changer' for the country.
"There is no question of capping the Agni programme," Saraswat said, when asked if it was time to say the programme is over now that the DRDO has achieved a long-range deterrence capability to meet its threats from the immediate neighbourhood.
"Our missile development programme is based on today's, current and evolving threats. Evolving threats will continue to drive our future needs for platforms and weapons," he said, refusing to predict what could be the range of the futuristic Agni series and whether it will go beyond 10,000-km range.
However, the modern technologies such as anti-satellite, putting satellite in orbit on demand, and multiple independently targettable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) would be part of the Agni-series missiles in the future.
China has an inter-continental ballistic missile Dong Feng-31A that can reach targets 11,500-km away and it has in February 2007 proved its anti-satellite capability to hit targets in space.
The MIRV technology provides a ballistic missile to carry multiple war heads that can be directed at different targets during flight.
Clarifying that Agni-V is a long-range missile and not an inter-continental missile, Saraswat said it does not possess the MIRV capability, but future Agni missile would definitely have one and that the defence scientists were already working towards developing it.
He clarified that the future Agni missile has not been named 'Agni-VI' as has been speculated in a section of the media.
For anti-satellite capability, Saraswat said Agni-V has provided India the necessary velocity and range to reach the needed altitudes.
But its all about having the guidance capability to direct the warhead towards the intended target in space and whether we want to destroy it, for which a 'kill vehicle' is needed, or just disrupt the satellite's functioning.
However, he clarified that India is 'a peace-loving' nation that does not approve or favour weaponisation of space.
The satellite-on-demand capability would help India to place mini- and micro-satellites in orbit if its other major satellites are disrupted or damaged during wartime. These micro-satellites would have a six-month to a year life and could be used for global positioning, navigation and other purposes for a short period of time.
Considering the assessment of threat to India in its neighbourhood, Saraswat said, "there is no harm in saying Agni-V is a game-changer, as it has taken us to a much higher pedestal and has added new dimension to our strategic defence."
He also said that the successful Agni-V test has provided him 'happiness, satisfaction and excitement' and has been a 'dream come true' for the defence scientists community of the country.
The DRDO chief also noted that Indian ballistic missiles 'are second to none' and in particular, Agni-V, Agni-IV and Agni-II 'are 21st century missiles'.
"I have no doubt our missile technology is on par with the best in the world."