Ballistic missiles Current Affairs - 2019
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With the formal announcement by the United States about the withdrawal from the INF treaty, Russia has followed the suit and declared the suspension of the treaty. Defence analysts fear about the arms race due to the suspension of the treaty.
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
The features of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in December 1987 were:
- The treaty prohibited the United States and the Soviet Union from possessing, testing and deploying ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles of ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometres (300 to 3,400 miles).
- The treaty covers all types of ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles whether their payload is conventional or nuclear.
- The treaty exempted the air-launched and sea-based missile systems in the same range.
Under the treaty, both US and Russia had destroyed 846 and 1,846 missiles respectively.
How the INF treaty aided in Diffusing Tensions?
Due to the limited range, Short flight times and unpredictable flight patterns, It was difficult to detect the short and medium ranges missiles. As a result, there was a threat of nuclear war in Europe which is sandwiched between Russia and US.
The missiles were designed chiefly to fight a theatre nuclear war in Europe. It exacerbated crisis instability and increased the chances of an accidental nuclear war.
Hence the destruction of these missiles under the provisions of the INF treaty was highly beneficial towards enhancing both regional and global security.
What would happen now?
Both Russia and US would indulge in the development of these short and medium ranges missiles. There could be an arms race with EU joining the race as a third entity. Since these missiles are mobile, hard to detect, nuclear-capable and can reach European cities, they have hardly any warning time at all so they reduce the threshold for any potential use of nuclear weapons in a conflict. This would lead to instability and trust deficit.
India has successfully carried out night user trial of Agni-I short-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile. The test flight was conducted by Indian Army’s Strategic Forces Command off Abdul Kalam Island in Bay of Bengal, off the coast of the Indian state of Odisha. The test was second known nighttime trial of Agni-I since its first such successful test in April 2014.
Agni-I is short range nuclear capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile. It is first missile of the Agni series launched in 1983. It was developed by premier missile development laboratory of DRDO in collaboration with Defence Research Development Laboratory and Research Centre Imarat and integrated by Bharat Dynamics Limited, Hyderabad.
It weighs 12 tonnes and is 15-metre-long. It is designed to carry payload of more than one tonne (both conventional and nuclear warhead). It is single stage missile powered by solid propellants. It can hit a target 700 km away. Its strike range can be extended by reducing the payload. It can be fired from road and rail mobile launchers.
It is equipped with sophisticated navigation system which ensures it reaches the target with a high degree of accuracy and precision. The missile already has been inducted into armed forces. Since its induction it has proved its excellent performance in terms of range, accuracy and lethality. It is also claimed to be a part of India’s minimum credible deterrence under No first to use policy.