Mass production of missiles urged

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 April, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 April, 1996, 12:00am

An Indian parliamentary committee has urged the Government to begin mass production of intermediate range ballistic missiles.

Members of the all-party standing committee on defence are concerned about the rapid arms build-up in South Asia and the country's poor preparedness.

They said it was time for the Government to 'expeditiously' review its position concerning the Indian Agni missile.

Their report, presented to Parliament, says: 'No country can afford to compromise on its defence preparedness or show complacency in dealing with national security.' The missile, developed under India's eight billion rupee (HK$1.81 billion) Integrated Guided Missiles Development Programme, was successfully test-fired over 1,400 kilometres in February 1994.

It is designed to have an optimum range of between 2,000 and 2,500 kilometres.

After the tests, its development was frozen, reportedly under pressure from the United States.

American policy has been to prevent missile proliferation in the region and the US is quick to apply pressure.

India and Pakistan have a long-running border dispute in the province of Kashmir.

According to American intelligence officials, Pakistan has also received long-range M11 missiles from China but has not deployed them.

India's parliamentary committee urged the Government to modernise and upgrade military hardware and plan the introduction of new weapon systems to maintain combat effectiveness.

The report says defence budget cuts have hampered modernisation of India's military, stopping it from keeping up with hostile neighbours who are upgrading their weapons.

It says: 'Defence funding has been just adequate and barely sufficient to meet inescapable requirements and to maintain the required operational levels.' Analysts said the report was referring to Pakistan and China, with whom India fought after a border dispute in 1962, which remains unresolved.

They said both neighbours were rapidly modernising their military and collaborating in areas including missiles and nuclear weaponry, fuelling India's insecurity.