SOURCE: MANJUNATH REDDDY/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Nearly a decade back on 26 February 2008 for the first time, DRDO confirmed and admitted in Public that India’s first K-15 nuclear-capable submarine-launched ballistic missile with a range of 750-1000 kilometres was successfully test fired and the missile had undergone 6 Previous trials in secret and by 2013 K-15 had completed 12th and final trials before it was cleared for induction .
Development of submarine-launched ballistic missile was part of India’s few Military Black Projects which was guarded under secrecy act and developed as a part of India’s nuclear triad to ensure second retaliatory nuclear strike capability in case rivals decides to nuke India first.
The second member of the K family made it debut on 24 March 2014 when K-4 which is a nuclear-capable Intermediate-range submarine-launched ballistic missile with a maximum range of about 3500 km made it debut. By End of 2017 missile has carried out many more secretive trials and as per recent media reports is waiting for final developmental trial which involves test firing of the missile from INS Arihant with real payload before it is cleared for induction.
A successor of K-4 SLBM is slated to be K5 which was cleared a few years back and will have an official range of 5000 km. K5 SLBM is likely to make its debut soon and like its predecessor, we will get to hear about it few years down the line when it is ready for induction. K-5 is likely to be armed on S4 and S4* Nuclear submarines.
K missile family benefited due to development of land-based ballistic missile prior by India in form of Agni Missile family which were in development from early 90’s. Development and successful Induction of Agni Missile family had a direct technological impact and technical know how to develop K family. K-4 and K-5 are seen as Agni-III and Agni-V redesigned to be operated from a submarine while they are no clear images of this missiles yet in Public domain yet for a direct comparison but there is no doubt that advancement of Agni Missile family was the driving force behind India’s K Family but until now. recent development seems to suggest that K Family might be overtaking Agni Missile family in near future.
As per recent media reports, DRDO has been granted permission to develop a new K-6 submarine-launched ballistic missile which also will be India’s first missile system which will feature
Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) thermonuclear warheads, each capable of being aimed to hit a different target.
India’s land-based Agni-VI was supposed to be India’s first MIRV-capable missile system but it has been over six years now after Agni-V made its debut in 2012 that no government official has been able to confirm the existence of Agni-VI project leading to speculation that India might have capped development of its land-based ballistic missile to clear its path into exclusive Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Agni-V for last few years has also disappeared from Public view and has been missing from Republic Day Military parades and even pictures of the last trials were not realised in media even though Agni-V was much-paraded missile system earlier hinting at larger focus shift towards submarine-launched ballistic missile programs.
K-6 with MIRV warheads and with minimum 6000km range will mean it will be India’s longest ranged missile system which will be capable of hitting target up to 10000km or more with lighter payloads safely hiding in vast depth of oceans around the world.
K-6 might also be India attempts to shift from land-based ballistic missile to submarine-launched ballistic missile to deliver its Nuclear warheads since India follows No first Nuclear strike policy it means that land-based ballistic missiles are susceptible and vulnerable to precision raids carried out by rivals which can disarm India’s second strike land-based delivery systems.