India is developing a 5,000 km-range Agni ballistic missile, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said on Friday.

“India has reached an appreciable level of competence in missile technologies, with a reach capability of 3,500 kilometres. Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is developing Agni missile with a capacity to reach 5000 kilometres,” he said here.

The Defence Minister was addressing a conference of heads of DRDO laboratories.

Under its missile development programme, India is developing ballistic missiles with longer ranges and had recently successfully test-fired the 3,500 km-range Agni-III missile from a launch facility. The Agni-series also includes missile variants with ranges between 700 and 2,500 km.

The 5,000 km-range Agni-V is a further advancement of the existing systems and is expected to be test-fired later this year, sources said.

Other missiles developed by the DRDO are the Prithvi and its variants with ranges upto 350 km, surface-to-air Akash missile defence system with a range of 25-30 km and the short-range anti-tank NAG missile.

The Trishul air defence missile system programme was scrapped by the DRDO after it was marred by delays.

In his address, the Defence Minister asked the DRDO to speed up the development trials and induction of Interceptor Missile as part of the credible Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD).

To reduce cases of suicides and fratricides in the armed forces, Antony asked the DRDO to to undertake a detailed research program to make an assessment of stress profile and mental health of the soldiers.

“I have asked one of the life sciences laboratories of DRDO to undertake extensive psychological research to optimise stress profile and enhance mental health of soldiers. The objective is to reduce incidents of suicides and fratricides among soldiers,” he said.

The suicide and fratricide rates in the early part of the decade were high, but due to sustained efforts by the Defence Ministry, they had come down significantly in last few years, according to officials.

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