Agni, Facing the Red Sun

If the title has spooked you, trust me it spooked me too when I coined it. What the hell does it even mean – Agni, Facing the Red Sun. It is not as if I am thinking of possible titles for the authors of Indian suspense novels to choose from????. But like in all the Indian suspense thriller novels, the suspense will out.

What about oceanography? What topography is to land, oceanography, my dear friends, is to the seas and oceans. It is the study of oceans’ biological and physical characteristics. And an oceanographic survey helps us find out the shape and depth of the seabed, water movements and currents, tectonic movements of the seabed and more. Such surveys provide inputs for underwater constructions, renewable energy, building of sea bridges, other civil engineering works and more.

By now you are clearly convinced that I have lost my marbles, and forget you, I might not have any clue where I am going with this. Yes? We will see.

Any ideas about the military usage of oceanography? The military party that carries out such surveys practically knows the map of the seabed. They know how to sneak in, where to lie in waiting and from where to launch an underwater attack!      

On 07th March 24, India issued NOTAM (Notice to Airmen). A NOTAM is issued to designate a no-fly zone. The NOTAM was from 11th Mar to 16th Mar for a 3,500 + sq km area over Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the Bay of Bengal (BoB). Curiously a Chinese oceanographic research vessel (read spy vessel) Xiang Yang Hong 01 set sail from Qingdao port in China on 23rd Feb. By 11th Mar this spy vessel was well in BoB, but steered clear of our EEZ (exclusive economic zone).

The NOTAM was issued to test fire Agni 5 for its MIRV capabilities. The Agni 5 has a stated range of 5,000 km, but can be extended to 7,500 km by some accounts. According to the Federation of American Scientists, ICBMs have a minimum range of 5,500 km / 3,400 miles. MIRV stands for Multiple Independently-targetable Reentry Vehicle. Originally developed in the early 1960s by the US, it allows a missile to deliver multiple nuclear warheads to different targets. Only the P-5 (US, Russia, UK, France & China) have this capability, and now do we.

The nation stands grateful to all the DRDO scientists who worked on making Agni 5 a success, especially the Divya Putri, Sheena Rani. Why Divya Putri? The Agni 5 missile test is a part of Mission Divyastra. Sheena Rani led the team of scientists of this Agni 5 MIRV test.

You may now connect the dots about what a Chinese oceanographic research vessel (again, read that as spy vessel) must have been doing in BoB when Agni 5 MIRV was being test fired. The title of this article has been part explained. Here’s the remaining part. Xiang Yang Hong stands for Facing the Red Sun, the ‘Red’ being the communist red here. So when you are facing the Xiang Yang Hong, you are facing the red / communist / Chinese Sun. Finally explained in the end like in the mystery novels by Indian authors.

But if one wants to be counted amongst the top Indian thriller authors, there should be another twist at the end. Yes? Let me give you one. Will it make me counted amongst the top Indian thriller writers? Time will tell.

Before I give you the final twist I just promised above, let me make a point. There was a lot of noise in India about the Chinese spy ship snooping on the Agni 5 MIRV missile test. But I think sometimes letting the adversary know abundantly, what we are capable of, makes good sense prevail on their side.

Here’s the twist. China is 5,000 km from east to west and 5,500 km from north to south. Match it with Agni 5’s range.

Now, about my point that I made above, Wang Wenwen, the Chief reporter and opinion writer of the Global Times, a Chinese media house states, and I quote, “A reality we have to face is that India is continuing strengthening its military capabilities. A Beijing-based military expert told the Global Times that India’s ballistic missile technology has become mature, as India is able to launch several satellites in one rocket, which lays the foundation for India to develop MIRV technology, a capability that should not be overlooked.”

Why is this important? Because the Global Times is state-run.

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