India has inducted its first indigenously developed nuclear-capable Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM), K-15 Sagarika (B-05), after nearly two decades of development.
According to a report by Indian Express, the missile was inducted into operational service a couple of months ago. The report added that the SLBM, code-named B-05, was secretly test fired from Indian Navy’s indigenously built nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) INS Arihant off Visakhapatnam coast on August 11 and 12.
The first phase of the user trials conducted earlier this month involved three launches. While two tests were conducted on August 11, one was done on the next day with the missile in full operational configuration.
“All three missiles were fired from the submarine positioned nearly 20-meter deep inside the sea, about 10-km off the Vizag coast. It perfectly followed the pre-designated trajectory before zeroing on the target with high accuracy reaching close to zero circular error probability,-” the Indian Express quoted an official involved in the tests.
Sagarika (Oceanic) is a short-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile that can be launched from a submarine and has an operational range of 750 kilometres (466 mi).
The missile belongs to India’s K Missile family and forms a part of India’s nuclear triad, and will provide retaliatory nuclear strike capability. The 10-meter long two-stage missile weighs ten tonne and can carry a payload of about 1000 kg.
INS Arihant, the submarine on which the missiles are deployed, has four vertical launch tubes, which can carry 12 (three per launch tube) K-15 missiles or four under-development K-4 missiles. The K-4 is larger than K-15 and has a longer range of 3,500 km (2,200 mi). INS Arihant is the lone SSBN in service with the Navy which was commissioned in August 2016.
The induction of this new capability has made India a member of the very exclusive club of four nations which have an operational nuclear triad of firing nuclear-tipped missiles from land, air and sea. Other countries having the capability are Russia, USA and China. France had a nuclear triad capability earlier but had decommissioned its land-based missiles.
India has a declared no-first-use (NFU) policy and is developing a nuclear doctrine based on credible minimum deterrence with an assured second strike capability.