India tests undersea ballistic missile


New Delhi : India Tuesday test-fired an indigenously developed nuclear-capable submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from an undersea location off the Andhra Pradesh coast, but it was not immediately clear if the mission was a success.

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“The missile was launched at 12.58 p.m. The missile was seen emerging from the sea. Beyond that I cannot say anything else till we have analysed the data that has been gathered,” an official source said of the sixth test of the 700-km range Sagarika missile.

Analysts said this could well mean that while the launch itself was a success, the mission might not have met the other parameters that had been laid down.

Since the Indian Navy does not have a submarine capable of firing an SLBM, the test firing was conducted from an underwater launcher positioned 50 metres under the sea surface and 8 km off Visakhapatnam, which is home to the navy’s Eastern Fleet.

Powered by a turbojet, the missile can carry a 500-kg payload. It is 8.5 metres long and about a metre in diameter.

Prahlada, chief controller of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) that developed Sagarika, said earlier this month it was also readying for a “crucial” test of the missile from a submarine.

“We have asked the navy for a submarine to enable us conduct the test,” Prahlada – who uses one name – told reporters during the DEFEXPO international defence exposition here Feb 16-19.

However, this could be a while away as Russia is yet to respond to the Indian Navy’s request for loaning an Akula-class submarine capable of launching SLBMs. The navy’s Russian-made Kilo-class submarines and the German-designed HDW do not have the capability to fire such missiles.

The success achieved last year with exo-atmospheric (outside the atmosphere) and endo-atmospheric (within the atmosphere) anti-ballistic missiles, as also with the surface-to-air Akash missile, had apparently encouraged DRDO scientists to test the Sagarika again.