The veil was lifted off the hitherto secretive K-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), when a team of scientists from the Defense Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad, was presented a special award for the design and development of the K-4 missile.
The range of this missile is over 3,500 kilometers, and it will be for the foreseeable future India's principal weapon of deterrence which can be fired from under the sea. The K-series of missiles has been nomenclatured after former chief of the DRDO and a popular President of India A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, and will arm the Arihant class nuclear submarines (SSBN). TheAt the event, DRDO Director-General S.Christopher also made an important declaration of intent that the Arihant will be inducted for operational deterrence patrol in 2015-16. It is at present undergoing sea trials.
"It (the K-4) has enabled our nation to achieve the crucial nuclear triad," the DRDO citation stated. It acknowledged significant contributions made by DRDL scientist M.S.R.Prasad and his 62-member team towards the development of this key missile "under the Advance Naval Systems Programme (ANSP)".
The other SLBM in the K series is the K-15, which is reported to have a range of about 750 kilometers. Both the K-4 and the K-15 have been successfully test-fired multiple times from underwater pontoons to establish their capability to exit the water and then hit a target on land.
The underwater deterrence is the most crucial and reliable leg of the nuclear triad, ensuring maximum survivability of nuclear weapons against a decapitating first strike by a nuclear adversary. A robust SLBM is a shot in the arm for India's nuclear deterrence, and gives more credibility to its doctrine of 'No First Use'.