India has made progress in the development of its K-5 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), a new report has revealed

The nuclear-capable missile, which will arm India’s future ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), is likely to be tested by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in the next 15 months, the report says.

K-5 is the third SLBM that India is working on.

India’s first SLBM, K-15, has already entered service. It arms INS Arihant, the only operational SSBN that India currently has. This missile, tested extensively over the years, has a stated range of around 750 kilometres.

Given its short range, the K-15 can’t hit Chinese population and industrial centres during a conflict unless the submarine it is being launched from reaches close to the Chinese coastline in the South China Sea. Doing so during a conflict, experts say, will make the submarine more vulnerable to attacks.

India is developing K-4 and K-5 SLBMs to end this limitation.

While the K-4 has a range of around 3,500 kilometres, the K-5 can hit targets nearly 5,000 kilometres away. Using a K-5, experts say, an Indian SSBN can hit targets of strategic value in China from the Indian Ocean.

India has tested the K-4 SLBM multiple times in the past. In January this year, the missile was tested twice in five days. Reports say the development of the missile is complete and it is ready to enter series production.

The K-5, however, is still in development and hasn’t been tested before.

India’s second SSBN, INS Arighat, is currently undergoing trials. It is likely to enter service in the next six months, reports say.