New Delhi, Jul 1: India is inducting Agni-V, which is the country’s first batch of intercontinental ballistic missile system. The missile would bring targets across China including its prominent cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong within India’s range, and is expected to bolster India’s military prowess. The missile system, with a strike range of 5,000 km and capable of carrying nuclear warhead, are being inducted into the elite Strategic Forces Command (SFC), official sources told PTI. Also Read - 'Welcome Home You Beast': Netizens' 'Josh' Amps up as Rafale Fighter Jets Land at Ambala Air Force Base

They said a series of user trials are being conducted before the country’s most sophisticated weapon is handed over to the SFC. Also Read - Beijing to Lower COVID-19 Emergency Response Level

Last month, Agni-V was successfully test-fired off the Odisha coast and the sources said a number of other pre-induction tests are being planned in the next few weeks. “It is a strategic asset which will act as a deterrent. We are at the fag end of the strategic project,” said an official, who is part of the Agni-V programme. Also Read - After Visa Ban, US Mulls Additional Presidential Action Against China

He said it is the most advanced weapon in its series as it has latest technologies for navigation and its capability of carrying nuclear warhead is much superior. The first batch of Agni-V will be handed over to the SFC “soon”, the sources said while declining to elaborate further on the closely-guarded defence project.

The missile is being inducted at a time when India’s neighbourhood is witnessing evolving security threats. Very few countries including the US, China, Russia, France and North Korea have intercontinental ballistic missiles. In its armoury, India currently has Agni-1 with 700 km range, Agni-2 with a 2,000-km range, Agni-3 and Agni-4 with 2,500 km to more than 3,500-km range.

The first test of Agni-5 was conducted on April 19, 2012, the second on September 15, 2013, the third on January 31, 2015, and the fourth on December 26, 2016. The fifth test was held on January 18. All the five trials were successful.

As part of its efforts to enhance the country’s defence capabilities, the government is also working on several key projects including integrating the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile on 40 Sukhoi combat aircraft.

The air-launched variant of the Brahmos, the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile, was successfully test fired from a Sukhoi-30 combat jet on November 22, marking a major milestone to enhance the precision strike capability of the air force. The defence ministry is now expediting the process to integrate the Brahmos missile on 40 Sukhoi combat aircraft.

The fleet of 40 Sukhoi jet is undergoing structural modifications at the state-run aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for integration of the missile on them.

(With inputs from PTI)