New Delhi: Moving a step closer to completing its nuclear triad, India on January 26 successfully test fired a ballistic missile, with a strike range of around 1500 kilometres. The missile was tested from an underwater platform in Bay of Bengal.
"The medium range K-5 ballistic missile was test fired successfully today from an underwater pontoon and all parameters of the test firing were met," the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief VK Saraswat said from the undisclosed test area.
Nuclear triad is the ability to fire nuclear-tipped missiles from land, air and sea. Saraswat said that the development phase of the K-5 missile, which is a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), is over and it is now ready for deployment on various platforms including the indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant which is under development.
K-5 is part of the family of underwater missiles being developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the Indian strategic forces' underwater platforms. This missile will help India to achieve the capability of launching nuclear warheads from underwater facilities. This is the first missile in the underwater category to have been developed by India. So far, India had the capability of delivering nuclear weapons from land and aerial platforms only.
India has a no-first-use policy for nuclear weapons and the development of an SLBM boosts its retaliatory strike capability, experts said. India is also developing two more underwater missiles including K-15 and Brahmos with strike ranges of 750 kilometres and 290 kilometres respectively.
India has for some time possessed the Agni series of ballistic missiles as well as fighter-bomber aircraft to constitute the land and air-based legs of the nuclear triad. India had on April 19, 2012 made a giant stride when it test-fired nuclear-capable Agni-V Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile that has brought China within its reach with a strike range of over 5000 km. This missile also gives India the capability to hit targets in Eastern Europe, east Africa and the Australian coast.
Officials said more than 10 trials of the missile have been performed earlier. Today's was the last development trial of K-5. Only a select few nations including the US, France, Russia and China have this type of missile capability.
"This is a significant development and capability enhancement. The launch of the SLBM is a complex technological development. And now since the missile is ready for induction, this is a major punctuation in India's indigenous missile development programme," said security expert Commodore (retd) Uday Bhaskar.
Another security expert Commander (retd) Sunil Chauhan said the development has helped India achieve a significant milestone for country's strategic forces. This success will give countervailing capability, he said.
Defence analyst Deba R Mohanty said by achieving the nuclear triad, India will certainly be on the upward trajectory of becoming a global military power in the real sense.