The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) ends 2012 on an upbeat note, successfully launching the underwater missile K-15 off the Visakhapatnam coast on Wednesday. The missile darted 20 km into the air, after a gas generator ejected it from the pontoon that lay submerged a few scores of metres in the Bay of Bengal, and sped 650 km before splashing into the sea in its 11th flight trial.
After one more flight, the two-stage missile will be integrated with Arihant, India’s nuclear-powered submarine, and test-fired from the ship. “It is a fantastic system. It is a very powerful and accurate system,” said A.K. Chakrabarti, Programme Director, K-15, and Director of the Hyderabad-based Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), which designed and developed the missile.
“India is the fifth country to have an underwater launch system. The other countries are the U.S., Russia, France and China,” he said.
Avinash Chander, Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), DRDO, termed it “a good flight” and said the test “formed part of the pre-production clearance.” Twelve K-15 missiles, each 10 metres long and weighing six tonnes and capable of carrying nuclear warheads, will form part of the deadly arsenal of Arihant, which is powered by an 80-MWt reactor that uses enriched uranium as fuel and light water as coolant and moderator.
Informed sources said the reactor had already been integrated with the Arihant at Visakhapatnam. “The commissioning process is on,” they said. The reactor would reach criticality within the first few months of 2013. The harbour trials of the ship have been completed, and it is ready for sea trials.
India has been developing the K-4 missile, to be launched from submarines. It will be more powerful than K-15, with a range of 3,000 km.