India's missiles are already capable of hitting Pakistan—today the country will learn if it has the ability to strike deep into another rival. India will this afternoon launch an intercontinental ballistic missile called the Agni V. If successful, the nuclear-capable missile's 3,100-mile range would put Beijing and Shanghai within reach, reports the Wall Street Journal, and would, according to a security expert, narrow "the missile gap between India and China" and "potentially free up other short- and intermediate-range missiles for use against Pakistan."
The AP notes that China is shoulders ahead of India in the missile race, with the ability to reach anywhere inside India. India's most powerful missile, the Agni III, can travel only 2,100 miles, a distance that falls short of many major Chinese cities. "While China doesn't really consider India any kind of a threat or any kind of a rival, India definitely doesn't think in the same way," explains an Indian defense analyst. The 57-foot tall Agni V is designed to carry a 1.5-ton nuclear warhead and reportedly cost $486 million to build. If today's launch is successful, the country will need to carry out four or five more tests, meaning the earliest it would join India's arsenal would be 2014. (Read more India stories.)