In order to strengthen its capabilities of hitting enemy targets from submarines, India is contemplating to test-fire the 3,500 kilometre strike-range K-4 nuclear missile from an underwater platform off the coast of Andhra Pradesh.

The missile system is being developed by the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) for the Arihant class nuclear submarines which are being built by India. These submarines would be the backbone of India’s nuclear triad.

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According to the government sources, the DRDO will carry out test-firing of the K-4 nuclear missile from an underwater platform off the Vishakhapatnam coast. During the trial, the DRDO will test the advanced systems in the missile system.

The sources also 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.

K-4 is one of the two underwater missiles that are being developed. The other one is the over 700 kilometre strike range BO-5 missile. It is not yet clear whether the DRDO will test the missile at the full strike range or shorter ranges. However, NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) and marine warnings for long-range missile test have already been issued by India for the planned test-firings.

The K-4 missile test was planned for last month but was postponed. DRDO is also planning test-firing of the Agni-3 and BrahMos missiles soon.

 K-4 Ballistic Missile Test Schedule

As per the media reports, India will be testing four nuclear-capable missiles in the month of November itself. These cruise missiles can be launched from different platforms and all have enough range to hit major cities in Pakistan. The missiles that will be tested are – K-4 long-range ballistic missile, BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, Agni-II intermediate-range ballistic missile and the short-range ballistic missile Prithvi.

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K-4 is scheduled for a test on November 8. BrahMos will be tested on November 11, with both its surface-surface and air-air versions being put to the test. Agni-II ballistic missile will be tested on November 16, and the short-range Prithvi is scheduled for a November 20 test.

The K-4 will be launched from an underwater platform off the Visakhapatnam coast; Agni-II and Prithvi missiles will undergo tests off Odisha coast with BrahMos Aerospace testing the surface variant from a land-based platform and the air version from a Sukhoi-30 MKI.

Out of all the missiles, the K-4 developed by DRDO has the maximum range of over 3,500 km and the capability to carry a two-tonne warhead.

K-4 Ballistic Missile Advantages

The missile is reported to be 12 metres (39 ft) long with a diameter of 1.3 metres (4 ft 3 in) and weighs nearly 17 tonnes (19 tons). It can carry a warhead weighing up to 2 tonnes (2.2 tons) and is powered solid rocket propellant. As per the DRDO, the aim of the missile was to achieve a high accuracy. The missile is also able to cruise at a hypersonic speed and is maneuverabile. The K4 can perform three-dimentional maneuvers to defeat ballistic missile defence systmes.

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