BHUBANESWAR: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is readying for a fresh trial of its long range nuke-capable submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) K-4 from an underwater platform in the last week of this month.
If things go as per the programme, defence sources said the indigenously built most powerful underwater missile having a strike range of around 3,500 km will be test fired from a submerged pontoon, which is almost identical to a submarine, on January 31.
Though the missile has been designed to be launched from a depth of 50 metres, this time the scientists are planning to fire it from the undersea platform nearly 20-30 metre deep in the Bay of Bengal.
A defence official said while the preparation for the test is going on in full swing, tracking equipment has been moved in ships to be placed at test location and point of impact.
Having a length of 12 metres and diameter of 1.3 metres, K-4 missile weighs around 17 tonne and is capable of carrying a warhead of around two tonne. Basically a ballistic missile, the K-4 combines the aspects of both cruise and ballistic missile, which use multiple-stage rockets to exit the atmosphere and re-enter in a parabolic trajectory.
The country’s first indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant has already been inducted in the Indian Navy and this submarine will be equipped with the K-series missiles.
Apart from the 700-km range K-15, renamed as B-05, which has been successfully test fired several times and K-4, India has one more missile in the series. SLBM K-5 having a striking capability of over 5,000 km is under development.
All the K-series missiles are faster, lighter and stealthier. The missiles are far more difficult to tackle as they skulk clandestinely undersea and manoeuvrable thus minimising the chance to be shot down by the enemy.
Apart from the K-series missiles, India has the submarine version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile in its arsenal to boost its second-strike capabilities. The DRDO is also developing the air version of K-series missiles which can be fitted with fighter aircraft.
The DRDO is expecting a successful trial of the missile as it would strengthen the country’s position in the exclusive club of six nations including Russia, USA, France, Britain and China which have the capability of firing missiles from air, land and undersea.