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India Tests Cruise Missile Developed with Russian Help - 2003-10-29

India has successfully tested a supersonic cruise missile developed in cooperation with Russia. Defense officials say the Brahmos anti-ship missile was fired from the Chandipur testing range in the eastern Orissa state.

The missile has a range of about 300 kilometers and can carry a 200 kilogram conventional warhead. It travels at twice the speed of sound and can be launched from ships, submarines, aircraft and land-based platforms.

Officials say both India and Russia plan to induct the missiles into their armed forces after sufficient tests. This is the fourth time the missile has been tested.

India and Russia jointly developed the Brahmos through a company their state defense organizations formed in 1998. The close military cooperation between the two countries goes back nearly five decades, and a substantial part of Indian defense hardware is of Russian origin.

India has already developed a range of nuclear-capable missiles, which can hit targets in Pakistan and China.

Western nations often criticize missile tests by nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, who have fought three wars and came close to a fourth one last year.

But the deputy director of New Delhi's Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis, Uday Bhaskar, says both countries have the ability to handle their nuclear capabilities.

"It is true that there is a certain anxiety which is often generated when India or Pakistan carry out missile tests," he said. "But I think both countries are aware of the potential of strategic capabilities, weapons of mass destruction as they are referred to. Once India and Pakistan are able to have their confidence-building measures in place, my sense is that they should not generate that degree of anxiety."

Defense officials also say the latest nuclear-capable missile being developed by India, known as Agni III, will be tested early next year. The Agni III has a range of 3,000 kilometers. The shorter range versions of the Agni have completed the testing phase and are being added to the arsenals of the Armed Forces.

Pakistan carried out a series of missile tests earlier this month.