India will probably have a credible nuclear strategic triad capability in 2015. India’s first ballistic nuclear submarine (SSBN), the INS Arihant (which means destroyer of enemies), has been moved out of harbor for sea trials. The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) recently tested a 3,000 km range submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) named K-4, from a pontoon submerged 30 feet deep, off the coast of Visakhapatnam located on the eastern coast.
The longer range K-4 will complement the shorter range K-15, also known as Sagarika, with a range of 750 km. The K-15’s range is a significant limitation, and constricts room for maneuvering. The submarine has to move close to enemy shores to launch the missile, making it vulnerable to detection. The K-4, with a range of 3,000 km, gives the submarine enough standoff distance to fire while remaining hidden deep in the Indian Ocean, or within territorial waters. Each Arihant class submarine, displacing 6000 tons, can carry four K-4 missiles or twelve K-15 missiles. While the K-15 has been repeatedly tested and validated, the K-4 has only been test fired for the first time. Several more tests are required before it can be cleared for serial production and operationally deployed.
The first Arihant-class submarine is undergoing sea trials in 2014 and will be succeeded by three additional submarines, expected to be in commission by 2023.
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