India’s long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) ‘Agni-V’ will be inducted into the Tri-Service Strategic Forces Command (SFC) ‘within this year’ after it undergoes one more pre-induction trial.

The nuclear-capable Agni-V is capable of covering a range of over 5,000 km, brings all of Asia, and thus China, within its nuclear strike capability, The Times of India reports.

Once inducted, India joins the US, the UK, Russia, China and France – owning intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

On Thursday, in its first pre-induction trial conducted by the SFC, the 17-metre Agni-V was launched from a canister atop the road-mobile launcher from Dr Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha. The three-stage missile zoomed to a height of over 600km in its parabolic trajectory and then splashed down around 4,900km away towards Australia in the Indian Ocean barely 19 minutes later.

The SFC already has regiments of the Prithvi-II, Agni-I, Agni-II & Agni-III (see graphic) missiles, which are mainly meant to deter Pakistan. Agni-IV and Agni-V, in turn, have been developed with China in mind.

Designed to carry a 1.5- tonne nuclear warhead, Agni-V has been tested four times in "developmental or experimental trials" earlier. The missile was tested in an "open configuration" in April 2012 and September 2013, while it was test-fired from hermetically sealed canisters mounted on transport-cum-tilting launcher trucks in January 2015 and December 2016.

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