About a month after Defence Minister AK Antony indicated that India will first ‘stabilise’ its present missile programmes before starting any project for having capabilities to strike targets at longer distances than the 5000 km-range Agni-V, the DRDO has planned a series of tests of its indigenously developed missiles, including the first trial of K-15 missile from a submarine.
The missiles, which have been lined up for tests from the test facilities off the Odisha and Andhra Pradesh coasts in November and December, include nuke capable ballistic missile Prithvi-II, AAD interceptor, submarine-launched K-15 and Agni-I.
A reliable source at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) here told ‘The New Indian Express’ that the scientists and personnel of armed forces were readying to conduct two trials of 350-km range Prithvi-II ballistic missile tentatively on November 4 and 6. While the AAD interceptor in deliverable configuration is reportedly scheduled for November 8, K-15 missile will be trialed twice from two separate underwater platforms.
“In fact we are readying to conduct a developmental trial of K-15 from a pontoon (replica of a submarine) on November 20 which will be followed by the first trial of the missile from a submarine on November 30 off the Vizag coast. The missile is being integrated to be fired from the indigenously developed Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV),” informed the source.
Reports from the Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast said the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Indian army would carry out the user trial of 900-km range Agni-I missile later this month or early next month. “The motor and engine of the missile has already arrived at the test range. The SFC team would soon come here for the preparation,” said an official.
The DRDO is however focusing on the trials of AAD interceptor and K-15 as the successful launch of the AAD would pave the way for the maiden test of an advanced version of exo-atmospheric interceptor missile which is expected to kill the enemy missile at an altitude of 150 km in comparison to the endo-atmospheric AAD interceptor’s capability of destroying the target at 15 km altitude.
The AAD is a single stage anti-ballistic solid propellant powered missile. It is 7.5 metres long and capable of neutralizing targets at 2000-km away. The DRDO is developing interceptors which will intercept missiles with ranges up to 5000 km.
On the other hand, the K-15 is one of the most ambitious projects of the DRDO in recent times. After its successful induction, the flagship defence organisation would go for the developmental trials of its longer range K-4 missile to strengthen its undersea attacks. Apart from the K-15, India has the submarine version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile in its arsenal.
Having a strike range of about 700 km, the K-15 missile is about 10 metres in length and about one metre in diameter. Its launch weight is about ten tonnes. This missile uses solid propellant and can carry a conventional payload of about 500 kg to one tone and be fitted with tactical nuclear warhead.