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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

India test-fires its new supersonic missile

RIA Novosti

13/09/2008 14:24 NEW DELHI, September 13 (RIA Novosti) - India has tested a domestically produced supersonic air-to-air missile, national media reported on Saturday.

The launch was conducted from a test range at Chandipur in the eastern state of Orissa at around 12:05 local time (6:35 GMT), the Press Trust of India news agency said.

"Before being made full operational, the complex missile system would undergo some more trials, though test on its navigation, control, air frame, propulsion and other sub-system have been validated," an Indian defense source was quoted by the agency as saying.

The source also said that the single-stage, solid fuel propelled Astra missile "is capable of engaging and destroying highly maneuverable supersonic aerial targets."

The country's military are going to develop three derivatives of the weapon with the range varying from to 30 to 110 km (18.6 to 68.4 miles) capable of tracking and engaging targets at supersonic speeds up to Mach 1.4.

The nuclear-armed second most populous country also develops and builds advanced missiles at the Russian-Indian BrahMos Aerospace joint venture established in 1998.

The BrahMos missile has a range of 290 km (180 miles) and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kg (660 pounds). It can hit ground targets flying at an altitude as low as 10 meters (30 feet) and has a top speed of Mach 2.8, which is about three times faster than the U.S.-made subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile.

According to the press reports, India's defense budget was about $21.7 billion in 2007, up 7.8 per cent from 2006.

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