WASHINGTON – India is working on its first submarine-launched ballistic missile for its only nuclear powered submarine, the INS Ariant. The ballistic missile is said to have a range of some 700 kilometers, or 435 miles, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The missile was developed by India’s Defense Research and Development Laboratory, or DRDL. Called the Agni-V, the missile brings India into a limited membership of countries capable of launching nuclear-tipped submarine-based ballistic missiles.
The United States, Russia, France and China have indigenously built submarines with this capability. Great Britain also has submarines with this capability, but they were acquired from the U.S.
It will be another year before the submarines equipped with the Agni-V, also referred to as the K-15, will be ready for “deterrent patrols.” The 10-ton missile will be launched from missile silos on the submarine’s hump.
The INS Ariant has four silos on its hump, which will allow it to carry either 12 K-15s or four of the 3,500 kilometer range K-4 missiles which similarly are undergoing tests. Each missile will be capable of carrying a one-ton nuclear payload.
Once the Ariant is operational, it then will make complete India’s nuclear triad – a capability to fire nuclear missiles from land, air and sea.
The SLBM is the least vulnerable to any pre-emptive strike. Such a capability for India will be critical, since it has a “no-first use” nuclear doctrine, but will give India the ability for a second-strike capability.
Deployment likely will be in the South China Sea, where India has a major stake in protecting valuable areas among the shoals, reefs, islands and offshore deposits that China also has claimed to be under its domain.
Even China’s neighbors similarly have laid claim, making the issue of access a subject of increasing tension in the region.
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