By Fang Xiaozhi
According to Indian media reports, India has completed its investigation into the "misfired" missile to Pakistan recently, claiming that several officials shall undertake the responsibility. The Indian Air Force mistakenly fired a BrahMos supersonic anti-ship cruise missile on March 9, and it fell into Pakistan. Fortunately, there were no casualties. India then established an incident investigation committee, determined that this was an accident caused by a technical malfunction during routine maintenance, and asked the Indian Air Force to review various procedural specifications to ensure that similar incidents will not occur again. Pakistan protested the incident to India, expressing concerns that such an accident could escalate and spark conflict due to the lack of risk de-escalation agreement or mechanism between the two countries.
India has been continuously seeking the status of a major power by increasing its regional influence and strengthening its armament construction for a long time, for which developing various types of missiles and improving strike and deterrence capabilities have played an important part. Driven by relevant plans, India has successively developed the Prithvi short-range ballistic missiles system and the Agni medium and long-range ballistic missiles system. The Prithvi family has three versions , and they are the main means for the Indian army to carry out in-depth precision strikes. The Agni series have five, and they are the strategic weapons for India to deter the enemy. The Agni-5 ballistic missile has a range of 5,000 kilometers and can carry multiple nuclear warheads for strategic nuclear strike mission. It is currently the most powerful and longest-range strategic missile in India. The Agni-6 ballistic missile is still under research and development, which is expected to have a firing range of more than 10,000 kilometers.
In addition to independent research and development, India is also actively working with foreign countries and introducing advanced technologies to improve missile performance as soon as possible. The BrahMos supersonic anti-ship missile is jointly developed by India and Russia, which is based on the Russian Yakhont supersonic anti-ship missile, and has developed into three types including land-based, air-launched, and ship-borne. India said it will also develop a submarine-launched version to establish a firepower system along with Prithvi and Agni ballistic missiles, in a bid to deal with various threats and implement strategic deterrence.
India's current status of weapons research and development still lags behind its ambitious development plan, especially in the field of missile research and development. Although India has mastered relevant technologies of missile manufacturing, it has few independent intellectual property rights, and many core technologies come from abroad. In addition, India has failed to establish a complete defense industrial system, and the weapons it has developed are always unsatisfactory. The "misfiring" of the BrahMos supersonic anti-ship missile this time also fully exposed the shortcomings of its missile design and the lack of missile research and development capabilities. India’s missile technology is still facing multiple difficulties, and it still has a long way to actual combat.
(The author is an associate professor at the School of International Relations, PLA National University of Defense Technology)