India Test Fires K-4 missile Secretly
— March 5, 2016
India has reportedly conducted a test of its home grown intermediate range Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) K-4 secretly from an undersea platform in the Bay of Bengal in a bid to boost its deterrence capability by strengthening the second strike fire power.
Even as the authorities of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are tightlipped about the secret test, a reliable defence source on confirmed that this nuclear capable missile was fired from a submerged pontoon positioned nearly 30 feet deep sea offshore Vizag coast on Monday (7th March).
Launched underwater, the missile developed indigenously by the DRDO, surged to the surface leaving behind a ribbon of thick smokes. Although the result of the test was not known, the source claimed it’s take off was smooth as a powerful gas generator successfully ejected it from the pontoon.
The first test of the missile was also conducted secretly on March 24, 2014 and the DRDO admitted it officially only in January last year in the Aero-India show. The K-4 missile is best in the world in its class and it is faster and stealthier. Once operational, the two-stage missile will equip the country’s first nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant.
Working very covertly under the secret K-project for last nearly two decades, prime focus of the DRDO was to make the weapon system lighter and faster having both cruise and ballistic variants. A very few countries have the triad of firing nuclear tipped missiles from air, land and undersea. Other countries, which have the capability, include Russia, USA, France, Britain (UK) and China.
A defence scientist said the K-4 missile will supplement its cousin 750-km range K-15 missile (renamed as B-05). Nuclear powered INS Arihant submarine which is likely to be commissioned in the Navy shortly will be equipped with four K-4 missiles or 12 K-15 missiles. The missile has to go for three/four more trials before being inducted in the navy.
This maneuverable missile having an innovative system of interlacing in three dimensions can also cruise at a hypersonic speed. This exceptional feature of the weapon system makes it difficult to be tracked easily and destroyed by any anti-ballistic missile defence systems. The missile has a high accuracy of close to zero circular error probability (CEP).
The underwater launched ballistic missile is about 12 metres long with a diameter of 1.3 metres. It weighs around 17 tonnes and is capable of delivering two tonne warhead up to a distance of over 3,500 km. The missile is powered by solid rocket propellant. High power long range tracking systems were spread along its trajectory to track the flight path.