India is expected to carry out more tests of the missile before it is ready for being equipped on the nuclear submarines. At the moment, only the first nuclear boat INS Arihant is operational for the Navy. K-4 is one of the two underwater missiles that are being developed by India for its submarine force. The other one is the over 700-kilometre strike range BO-5

Further strengthening its capabilities to hit enemy targets from submarines, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully conducted a crucial test of intermediate-range submarine-launched ballistic missile K-4 today. The test-firing was carried out from an underwater platform in the sea during the daytime, nearly 30 nautical miles off the eastern coast.

The indigenously developed most potent missile is capable of delivering nuclear warheads at 3,500 km range.

The K-4 is 12 metres long weighing nearly 17 tons, uses a gas-booster to leave the underwater platform (or a submarine) and out of the water before its engines are ignited to take the missile towards its target. Capable of carrying a 2 tons warhead, the missile uses solid rocket boosters.

The K-4 is a more advanced system than the 'K-15' missile, which was test-fired from the INS Arihant submarine in August 2018 and declared operational. The K-15 has a range of only around 700 km, which it makes it unable to hit targets in China from 'safe waters' such as the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. Development of the K-15 had begun in the 1990s. On the other hand, a submarine equipped with the K-4 missile can operate within the range of Indian Navy air and sea-based platforms.

The K-4 missile was first test-fired in 2014. The INS Arihant and its sister ship, the Aridhman nuclear powered boats, can carry four K-4 missiles in missile launch silos; follow-on ships will be able to carry up to eight K-4 missiles, giving greatly expanded nuclear deterrence capabilities.

According to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the K-4 flies at hypersonic speeds and can penetrate enemy anti-ballistic missile defence systems by performing three-dimensional manoeuvres.

"The exceptional feature of the underwater missile makes it difficult to be tracked and destroyed by any anti-ballistic missile defence system,” a DRDO sources claimed.

India is one among six nations including the US, Russia, France, UK and China that have the capability of firing nuclear-tipped missiles from all three platforms - land, air and undersea.

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