India achieved a major milestone on Sunday by establishing underwater missile launch capability when K-15 missile, code-named B05, was successfully test-fired off the Visakhapatnam coast. The 10-metre-high Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM), lifted off from a pontoon as it was ejected by a gas generator, rose to an altitude of 20 km and reached its full range of 700 km before splashing down in the waters of the Bay of Bengal with single-digit accuracy.
With the completion of developmental trials, the missile is now ready for integration with INS Arihant, the indigenously-built nuclear-powered submarine. In the coming years, India will have four nuclear-powered submarines. Besides Arihant, a nuclear-powered submarine is being built at the Visakhapatnam Naval Dock Yard and the hulls of two other submarines are under fabrication in Vadodara, Gujarat.
India is the fifth country to have underwater missile capability. The other nations are the United States, France, Russia and China.
Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister V.K. Saraswat told The Hindu that with this launch India achieved perfection in underwater missile launch capability. The development of the system was completed and the performance of the missile was as per specification. “This is a major milestone in the country’s strategic defence capability,” he added. The missile would be ready for integration on platforms in the near future.
On the development of the K-4 missile with a range of 3,000 km, he said that as was done in the case of the Agni family of missiles, a series of underwater K-series missiles would be developed.
Once integration was completed, Arihant would carry 12 nuclear-tipped missiles, each weighing six tonnes. The submarine would be powered by an 80 MWt (thermal) reactor that uses enriched uranium as fuel and light water as coolant and moderator.
Meanwhile, sources in the Department of Atomic Energy said the 80MWt reactor would be commissioned in May or June 2013 as various tests were under way. “The harbour trials of Arihant would begin when the on-board reactor goes critical and starts producing steam.” For the tests under way, the steam was being produced from an external source from the land.
Only after it starts producing steam and rotates the turbine, Arihant would start moving and the harbour trials “proper” would begin, the sources added.
The hypersonic Shourya missile is the land version of the K-15 missile and the trials of the system have been completed. Shourya can be launched from canister too and the Army is thinking of placing orders for the missile.
After the induction of nuclear-powered submarines, India’s triad of nuclear deterrence capability will be completed.
A DRDO official, who watched the K-15 launch on Sunday from a nearby ship, called the missile “a deadly deterrent,” which would be armed with a nuclear warhead.
The K-15 missile
is now ready for integration with