After the successful trial of AD interceptor missile, DRDO is readying for the developmental trial of submarine- launched ballistic missile K-15 from an underwater platform off the Andhra Pradesh coast in the second week of December.
The much awaited test, scheduled for the last week of November, was postponed owing to inclement weather triggered by a deep depression in Bay of Bengal early this month. DRDO scientists are reportedly contemplating two trials of K-15, one from a pontoon (replica of a submarine) and another from a submarine.
Defence sources said the nuclear capable missile will be tested for the first time from a submarine positioned undersea off Visakhapatnam coast. If everything goes as planned, the missile will be fired any time between December 6 and 8.
The DRDO is eyeing for the successful trial of the missile as few countries have the triad of firing nuclear-tipped missiles from air, land and undersea. The other countries, which have the capability include Russia, the USA, France, Britain and China.
“Scientists are working over time and constantly cross-checking the system, including the launch platform. We want to achieve near-zero circular error probability (CEP) accuracy,” said a defence scientist.
The indigenously developed K-15 missile is about 10 metres in length and about a metre in diameter. Its launch weight is about 10 tonnes. This missile uses solid propellant and can carry a conventional payload of about 500 kg to one tonne and also be fitted with tactical nuclear warhead. After its induction, the missile will equip the country’s first nuclear-powered submarine ANS Arihant.
Reports said the K-series missile programme formally began in 2004 as PJ-08 as a tribute to the then DRDO chief and former President APJ Abdul Kalam. The solid-fuel missile had a modest 150-km range but over the years, the missile steadily grew to achieve its desired 700-km range.
“The hybrid K-15 combines aspects of both cruise and ballistic missiles, which use multiple-stage rockets to exit the atmosphere and re-enter in a parabolic trajectory. It flies in hypersonic speed. Launched underwater, the K-15 surges to the surface and is the world’s best weapon in this class,” the scientist said.
The K-15 is one of the most ambitious projects of the DRDO. After its successful induction, the DRDO 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.