India test-fires 10 missiles in 35 days. It is not a coincidence

The Defence Research and Development Organisation will early next week fire the 800 km range Nirbhay sub-sonic cruise missile, the last for the solid rocket booster missile before its formal induction into the army and the navy, people familiar with the development told Hindustan Times. It would be the tenth missile test-firing by India’s lead defence research organisation in the last 35 days.

The DRDO’s effort to fast-track development of ‘Made in India’ strategic nuclear and conventional missiles – it has fired a missile every four days over nearly a month – comes against the backdrop of China’s refusal to step back from the Line of Actual Control.

China’s People’s Liberation Army had first clashed with Indian soldiers on the northern bank of Ladakh’s Pangong Tso lake on May 5 this year, setting up a stand-off that rapidly expanded to four locations in East Ladakh.

The stand-off escalated into a bloody clash in June that killed soldiers on both sides. It was the first time that the two countries had lost soldiers on this border in four decades. A little less than two months later, shots were also fired when Indian soldiers occupied the heights on the north bank of the picturesque salt water lake spread across 700 square km.

In between, the DRDO also carried out a night trial of the nuclear-capable ballistic missile Prithvi-II, the surface-to-surface missile capable of attacking targets at a range of 300 km. It is India’s first indigenous surface-to-surface strategic missile.

The expedited development and testing has made it possible to deploy the terrain-hugging subsonic Nirbhay missile along the Ladakh border in limited numbers.

“The Shaurya missile would be next,” an official said about the new-age weapon that can carry a nuclear warhead weighing around 200 kg and flies at 2.4 km per second. The government has cleared its induction into the military. The Indian Strategic Forces Command will decide locations of its deployment under guidance from the National Security Council.

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