The K-4 submarine ballistic missile increases India’s underwater power

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NEW DELHI, (BM) – Developing its submarine forces, creating a new submarine Arihant, the Indian military industry is developing new ballistic missiles (SLBMs) ​​for it.

Initial plans to develop a naval version of the Agni-III ground-based missile ran into significant difficulties, with the missile body being too large for the submarine under development. After a decision was made to create a separate family of missiles, the development of a smaller missile, but with the same range, K-4, began.


The K-4 SLBM was one of the most secret projects of the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). The Laboratory of High Energy and Materials Science, the Center for Advanced Energy Materials and the Group of Naval Systems of the Engineering Research Organization DRDO were involved in the development of engines, launch systems and other components of the rocket.


The K-4 is a medium-range ballistic missile. It is a 10-meter missile weighing 20 tons, equipped with a solid-propellant rocket engine and capable of carrying a 2-ton nuclear warhead at a range of up to 3,500 km. DRDO stated that in the development of one of the tasks, the achievement of a high precision rocket was melted.

In addition, as a countermeasure against missile defense systems, the K-4 can perform maneuvers in three dimensions. According to publicly available information, the K-4 uses the Ringer Laser Gyro gyroscopic inertial navigation system. In total, Arihant class submarines will be able to carry 4 K-4 missiles.


The first tests of the K-4 launch vehicle began in January 2010, when a mock rocket was successfully ejected from a pontoon, submerged 50 meters below water level. For the first time, K-4 was successfully tested on March 24, 2014 from an underwater pontoon submerged to a depth of 30 meters, when the rocket successfully covered 3000 km.

In 2016, a successful launch was made from the submarine INS-Arihant 45 nautical miles off the coast of Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. The rocket was launched from a depth of 20 meters and covered over 700 km. On January 19, 2020, the next successful tests of the K-4 were carried out on an underwater platform off the coast of Andhra Pradesh.

The test was carried out in full operational configuration: the missile covered a distance of more than 3500 km in about 21 minutes with zero radial deflection, thereby proving that its hitting accuracy is significantly higher than that of its Chinese counterparts.

Further development

The K-4 at its maximum range can reach some important targets in Pakistan. However, it is still not achieving strategic targets on the Chinese mainland, or for this Indian SSBNs will have to patrol very close to the coastline of China.

With this in mind, since 2015, India has begun to develop a new K-5 SLBM. The K-5 missile will also be developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization to arm future versions of the Indian Navy’s Arihant class submarines.

The K-5 will be a three-stage solid-propellant rocket. The K-5 is expected to have a range of around 5,000 km, which will be in line with India’s latest Agni-V intercontinental missile. The K-5 is said to be capable of carrying four MIRVs, 500 kg each.

It is also known that the K-6 missile is being developed by the DRDO Advanced Naval Systems Laboratory. It will be a three-stage solid-propellant missile with multiple warheads 12 m long and 2 m wide, capable of carrying 2-3 tons of payload, with a maximum range of 6,000 km.


The K-4 SLBM is part of the K family of missiles, named after India’s 11th President and scientist, rocket and aerospace researcher Abdul Kalam. The emergence of K-4 increases India’s ability to strategically contain China.

With the K-4-equipped submarine INS-Arihant, India is increasing its survivability after a potential nuclear attack from China and gaining the capability of a guaranteed retaliatory strike.

In 2018, India has already developed a K-15 Sagarika missile with a range of just 750 kilometers. Due to the insignificant range of the K-15 missile, Arihant-class submarines are forced to approach the enemy’s shores, reducing the chances of remaining unnoticed. With the advent of the new K-family missiles, India’s strategic capabilities are significantly increased.

They finally make India the military-industrial leader of the world, making it the fourth country in the world to own the entire nuclear triad, the sixth country in the world with submarine ballistic missiles, thereby changing the balance of power in India’s favor in the Asian region.


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