India successfully test fired nuclear-capable, K-4 ballistic missile off the coast of Andhra Pradesh on January 19, 2020. It has a strike range of 3500km.
The K-4 ballistic missile was launched from an underwater platform in the sea. It can be launched from a submarine. It will be deployed on the fleet of the Arihant Class nuclear submarines being built by India.
The missile was developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
The missile launch is aimed at strengthening India’s capabilities to hit enemy targets from submarines. With this, India has moved a step further in inducting the ballistic missile on the INS Arihant class of nuclear submarines.
K-4 ballistic missile
• K-4 is one of the two underwater missiles that India is developing for its submarine force. While one has a strike range of 3500km, the other one will have a strike range of 700km.
• The three-meter tall missile carries a nuclear warhead of over one tone. It has a circular error probability far lower than that of the Chinese ballistic missiles.
• The submarine-launched ballistic missile is extremely significant for India’s air, land and sea nuclear triad and it is at the front of India’s second-strike capability.
• Till now, only the US, Russia and China have submarine-launched ballistic missiles with a strike range of 3,500km.
India will carry out more tests of the K-4 nuclear-capable missile before readying it for deployment on nuclear submarines. Currently, the Indian Navy has only one operational nuclear submarine- INS Arihant.
INS Arihant, commissioned into the Indian Navy in August 2016, is the lead vessel of Arihant class submarines, a class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines that are being built for the Indian Navy.
INS Arihant is the first ballistic missile nuclear submarine to be built by a country other than the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council- Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The work on the second vessel- INS Arighat had begun in 2014. The submarine is currently being prepared for sea trials. The final two vessels are expected to be larger than Arihant and will have 6 missile launch tubes.
All three remaining vessels of the Arihant class are expected to be commissioned by 2023.