From a pontoon 10-20 metres below the sea surface

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) plans another test-firing of the K-15 missile from a pontoon off the coast of Visakhapatnam.

Developed under the Sagarika project, the K-15 has been test-fired several times from submerged pontoons off Visakhapatnam.

The pontoon, simulating the conditions of a submarine, will be positioned about 10 to 20 metres below the sea surface. A gas-charged booster will erupt into life, driving the two-stage missile to the surface. The missile's first stage will then ignite and it will climb 20 km in the air before cutting a parabolic path and travelling over a range of 700 km.

The missile, which is under production, can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads. It will form part of the lethal arsenal of the country's first nuclear-powered submarine, Arihant, which is undergoing sea trials. India is building two more such submarines.

The DRDO is developing a K-4 underwater-launched missile, which will have a range of 3,000 km. Developmental tests of the missile's gas-booster have taken place from a pontoon.

The sixth launch of the interceptor missile, developed by the DRDO, is scheduled for the first fortnight of February. A modified Prithvi missile, taking off from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur on the Orissa coast, will act as an “enemy” missile.

The interceptor, to be fired from the Wheeler Island, off Damra on the State's coast, will ambush the “enemy” missile in endo-atmosphere at an altitude of 15 km.

Sources in the DRDO called it “a tricky mission” because the attacker would have a manoeuvrable trajectory and try to dodge the interceptor from homing in on it. Of the five earlier missions, four were successful.