A test firing of the K-15 ballistic missile by DRDO

The 3,500 km range K-4 is a more advanced system than the 'K-15' missile

DRDO is planning to test on Friday the nuclear-capable K-4 ballistic missile, which will arm the Arihant class of missile-armed nuclear submarines. The K-4 is believed to have a range of around 3,500 km and could hit targets in China from the Indian Ocean, giving a major boost to India's nuclear deterrent.

"As per plans, DRDO will carry out test-firing of the K-4 nuclear missile from an underwater platform off the Visakhapatnam coast on Friday. During the trial, DRDO will test the advanced systems in the missile," government sources told ANI. The test is expected to be done from an underwater pontoon.

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 INS Aridhman, 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.

Government sources clarified that the test-firing of the K-4 would be done from an underwater pontoon as the missile is still being tested and launch from a submarine would only be done once it is ready for deployment.

China is believed to have at least four ballistic missile-armed nuclear submarines that carry the JL-2 missile. The JL-2 missile is thought to have a range of over 8,000 km.

DRDO will also conduct tests of the BrahMos cruise missile and the Agni and Prithvi ballistic missiles in the coming weeks.

Our Bureau