India (16) and Pakistan (10) conducted 26 ballistic and cruise missile tests in 2021 while North Korea conducted just six missile tests but they became media headlines.
South Asia's nuclear neighbours India and Pakistan have conducted 26 missile tests in 2021, making it a year of intense arms rivalry.
While India tested 16 ballistic and cruise missiles, Pakistan tested 10 missiles with nearly identical capabilities in a tit-for-tat response. This equates to two missile tests in a month.
Pakistan and India, both of which have nuclear weapons, have fought three wars, two over disputed Kashmir, since 1947 and had a number of military skirmishes, most recently a limited engagement between their air forces in 2019.
According to India's Defence Ministry, trials for Long-Range Surface-to-Air Missiles (LRSAM) for its navy have also concluded.
The missile system has been jointly developed by India's Defence Research Development Organization and Israel's Aerospace Industries.
India also conducted two flight tests of the Agni P, a new generation nuclear-capable ballistic-canisterised missile with a range capability of 1,000 km to 2,000 km. The country ended the year by conducting a maiden flight test of surface-to-surface missile Pralay.
The missile is powered by a solid-propellant rocket motor and many new technologies.
With a range of 150-500 km, it can be launched from a mobile launcher and its guidance system includes a state-of-the-art navigation system and integrated avionics.
Pakistan's missile tests
Pakistan responded by testing the Shaheen III and Shaheen 1A surface-to-surface ballistic missiles with ranges of 2,750 km and 900 km, respectively.
In response to India's BrahMos cruise missile, Pakistan tested the Babur Cruise Missile IA, which has a range of 450 km, twice this year, according to data collected from the website of Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations – the media wing of the Pakistan armed forces.
While Pakistan launched the surface-to-air LY-80 missile air defence weapon system on April 7, India tested a new generation Akash Missile (Akash-NG) on July 21, demonstrating the Indian air force's defence capabilities.
In contrast, North Korea conducted just six missile tests during the same time period, but they grabbed international headlines.
India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea have together around 460 nuclear warheads, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
According to a January 2021 tally by the institute, which includes retired warheads –– not counted in the State Department's numbers –– the United States had 5,550 warheads, compared to 6,255 in Russia, 350 in China, 225 in Britain, and 290 in France.