NEW DELHI - India successfully tested a BrahMos supersonic cruise missile on Sunday as part of an ongoing series of trials to fine-tune its ability to strike long-distance targets, an official said.
Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan regularly test missiles, and normally only give each other advance notice for long-range launches. It was not immediately clear whether India had informed Pakistan ahead of Sunday's test.
The missile was fired from the country's testing range in the eastern state of Orissa, the defense official said.
He said that the BrahMos is capable of surgical strikes, such as the targeting of terrorist training camps or underground bunkers. He requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The missile can fly at 2.8 times the speed of sound and can be launched from land, ships, submarines or aircraft. It can carry conventional warheads weighing 280 to 300 kg (620 to 660 lbs) and has a maximum range of 290 km (180 miles).
The BrahMos, which was jointly developed by India and Russia, has already been deployed by one army battalion. However, Indian defense research scientists have frequently conducted tests of the missile to improve its performance, including its ability to hit targets, the official said.
The BrahMos is jointly named after India's Brahmaputra and Russia's Moskva rivers.
India's arsenal also includes the short-range Prithvi missile, the anti-tank Nag missile, the short-range surface-to-air Trishul missile, and the medium-range Agni missile.
Formerly under British colonial rule, both Pakistan and India have been bitter rivals for much of the post-independence era beginning in 1947.
Tensions have run particularly high since the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which a series of shootings and bombings attributed to Islamic militants from Pakistan claimed more than 170 lives in India's most populous city.
(China Daily 09/06/2010 page11)