BHUBANESWAR: India is preparing to conduct a crucial trial of its most ambitious submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from an underwater platform. Defence sources said the nuke-capable missile is likely to be test-fired from a pontoon (replica of a submarine) nearly 20 metre under the sea off Vizag coast on Thursday. While notice to airmen (Notam) has been issued, defence scientists are leaving no stone unturned for a successful mission as two consecutive attempts to launch the missile recently had reportedly failed.
Though earlier it was planned to test-fire the SLBM from indigenously-built nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant, sources said the missile will now be fired from the pontoon as the submarine is not ready for live trials. “Elaborate preparations are on for the mission. The missile is ready while logistic arrangements are being put in place along with positioning of tracking systems. The test window has been kept for August 9, 10 and 11,” said a defence official.
Developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the SLBM is world’s best weapon in its class. Flying at hypersonic speed, the missile can’t be spotted until it is virtually upon the target. Powered by solid propellant, it can carry payload up to one tonne and be fitted with tactical nuclear warhead. The SLBM is a part of India’s ‘nuclear triad’ (ground-based, air and submarine-launched weapons) and invulnerable second-strike weapon as projected in the nuclear doctrine.
The missile can be compared with Tomahawk missile of the US in terms of speed and lethality. So far, only a few countries have the missile technology that can deceive enemy attacks. “Since it is a user associate launch, DRDO scientists in presence of Navy officials will conduct the test from a submerged pontoon. Once inducted, it will add more teeth to India’s arsenal,” the official added.