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India test-fires nuclear-capable ballistic missile

NEW DELHI (AP) — India successfully tested an upgraded version of its most powerful nuclear-capable missile on Thursday during an army training exercise, a Defense Ministry official said.
Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan regularly test missiles, and normally give each other advance notice for long-range launches. Pakistan was informed ahead of Thursday’s test as part of “standard practice,” ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said.

The upgraded Agni-I — with a 435-mile range — was fired from a testing range on an island off the eastern state of Orissa, Kar said.

“The missile followed the trajectory perfectly and reached the designated spot in the Bay of Bengal,” where ships witnessed its detonation, Kar said.

The 12-ton missile, developed in India, has an advanced navigation system and can carry payloads of up to 2,200 pounds.

It has been tested several times in the past, including on March 28 at the same Orissa firing range, as part of ongoing army training to improve skills among defense personnel.

New Delhi has said it developed its current crop of missiles — including the short-range Prithvi missile, the anti-tank Nag missile and the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile — as a deterrent against neighbors China and Pakistan.

Its Agni-II missile, with a range of up to 1,250 miles, can put areas of southern China within striking distance. And the Agni-III, successfully tested last year, can carry nuclear warheads across much of Asia and the Middle East.

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