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Chinese vessel observes as India successfully tests Agni-5 missile

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Visakhapatnam: Days after India issued a missile test alert off the Odisha coast, a Chinese research vessel is positioned in international waters near the Indian coastline.

India successfully conducted a test of the Agni-5 missile, equipped with Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) technology, on Monday.

The Chinese ship, Xian Yang Hong 01, is currently less than 260 nautical miles off the coast of Visakhapatnam, where India bases its nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.

The missile test was successful, as confirmed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Reports suggest the missile in question might be the K-4, a nuclear-capable missile designed for submarine launch. The missile, designed by the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), has the capacity to carry warheads weighing up to 2 tonnes.

Before the test, a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) alert was issued, designating a no-fly zone in the Bay of Bengal area from March 11 to 16. This has raised suspicions, as China has been monitoring India's activities, including missile tests.

The Chinese research vessel, Xiang Yang Hong 01, entered the Malacca Straits on March 6 and was spotted between the Great Nicobar Island and the Indian peninsula on March 8. The vessel, in service since 2016, has remote sensing equipment capable of exploration up to depths of 10,000 metres. It is believed to have sensors for detecting sub-surface acoustic signatures, potentially providing intelligence on submarine movements and underwater launches.

The Indian Navy stated that the vessel is currently operating outside the Exclusive Economic Zone in the Bay of Bengal and is being monitored.

This development follows recent concerns about another Chinese research vessel, Xiang Yang Hong 03, which docked in the Maldives and is surveying the region. Tensions have escalated between India and the Maldives after President Mohamed Muizzu asked Indian troops to leave, with the Chinese vessel's activities adding to the concerns.

Navy Chief Admiral R Kumar highlighted the military applications of charting underwater regions, suggesting implications for deploying and operating submarines.

India's successful missile test and the presence of Chinese vessels in the region have sparked geopolitical concerns, adding to existing strains between the two nations.

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