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K Missile family

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Title: K Missile family  
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Subject: Sagarika (missile), K-4 (SLBM), Agni-V, Trident (missile), Nuclear triad
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K Missile family

'K' Missile family
Place of origin India
Service history
In service In production (k-15)[1]
2017 (k-4)[2]
Used by Indian Navy
Production history
Manufacturer Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) &
Bharat Dynamics limited(BDL)
Produced K-15 In production
Weight 6[3]-7[4] tonnes (K-15)
17 tonnes (K-4)[5]
2 tonnes (Air-launched)
Length 10m (K-15, K-4 present)
12m (K-4 future variant)
Width 0.74m (K-15)
1.3m (K-4)

Maximum firing range 5,000 km (unnamed Longer legged variant of K-4)[2]
Warhead K-15:1 tonne,
K-4:1-2.5 tonnes,[5]
K-5:1 tonne
500 kg (Air-Launched Version)
Blast yield K-4: 200-250 kilotons[5]

3,500 km
Maximum depth over 50m (tested)
Speed Mach 7.5 (Shaurya, which is land-based version[6] of sagarika K-15 missile)[1]
Arihant class submarine

The K family of missiles is a series of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) developed by India to boost its second-strike capabilities and thus the nuclear deterrence. Information about this family of missiles has mostly been kept classified. "The classified 'K' missile family" is known as the "Black Project" which DRDO officials are covertly working on. It is reported that "the top secret indigenous "K" missiles are faster, lighter and stealthier."[2][7]

Missiles in the series

TYPE RANGE Weight Warhead length Status
K-15[2] 750 km-1,500 km 6[3]-7 tonnes[4] 1 tonne 10 m K-15/B-05 in series production. Land-based missile awaiting clearance. Tests completed.[3][8]
K-4 Mark I [2][5] 3,500 km 20 tonnes[5] 2.5 tonnes[5] 10 m First tested from a depth of 30 meters on 24 March 2014. More tests expected before being getting operational.[9][10][11]
K-4 Mark II 5,000 km[2] 17 tonnes 1 tonne[2] 12 m Under development
Air Launched [2] 200 km 2 tonnes 500 kg 4 m Hypersonic missile project called ‘Air launched article’. It is designated to fit with Sukhoi Su-30-MKI. First prototype will be ready by 2012.
K-5 6,000 km[12] Unspecified 1 tonne Unspecified Under Development by DRDO[13][14]

K-15 or Sagarika K-15 missile

The Sagarika/K-15 missile (Sanskrit: सागरिका, IAST:Sāgarikā, meaning Oceanic) is the SLBM version of the land-based Shaurya missile.[1][6] With a shorter range than K-4 missiles it is to be integrated with Arihant class submarine concurrently developed for the use of Indian Navy.

Sagarika/K-15 was developed at the DRDO’s missile complex in Hyderabad. The complex consists of the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (D.R.D.L.), the Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) and the Research Centre, Imarat (RCI).
DRDL designed and developed the missile, while the ASL provided the motors and propulsion systems. The RCI’s contribution was in avionics, including control and guidance systems and inertial navigation systems.[4]

Medium range K-15 ballistic missile has a range between 700  km[15] to 1,500 km[16][17] with varying payload. This will also get help from Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), expected to be ready by 2014, to ensure guaranteed national access to precision navigation.[18] These will enable high accuracy required for precision strike. The last developmental test of the missile was conducted on January 27, 2013 from an under water launch platform off the coast of Visakhapatnam .[19][20]

K-4 Missile

K-4, named after former President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, is the next significant development under the K-X series by DRDO. It was covertly tested off the coast of Visakhapatnam in January, 2010. However, any detail regarding the developments in this project are confidential and this project is sometimes referred to as "BLACK PROJECT" whose existence is neither denied nor acknowledged by DRDO. While there are some reports that claim that K-4 is a submarine-launched version of AGNI-V, other reports state that it is actually a SLBM Version of the Agni-III missile that is being worked on. The goal of this project is to expand the second-strike options for the country, DRDO scientists told reporters during a briefing. A total of 258 private firms and 20 DRDO laboratories were involved in this venture.[21] The Missile is said to have two variants. One with a range of 3,500 km that is 10 m long and the other with a range of 5,000 km will be 12 m long to arm future nuclear submarines of the Arihant class.[2] K-4 will provide India with the capability to target China and Pakistan simultaneously. INS Arihant, first of the Arihant Class Submarines, will be able to carry 4 (10m long) K-4s or 12 K-15s.The K-4 missile in its final version was successfully tested on March 24, 2014 from a simulated underwater pontoon submerged 30 M deep and the missile is expected to be operational on INS Arihant in early 2015.[22]

K-5 Missile

K-5 missile is reportedly being developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the Indian strategic forces’ underwater platforms.[14][23] It will arm the future variants of Arihant class submarines of the Indian Navy. Reportedly, DRDO is in the process of developing a submarine-launched solid fuel missile with a maximum range of 6,000 kilometers[12] and a payload of one tonne.[13] However, there is strong opacity regarding the details of this project.


These 'K' missiles are intrinsically important for India's nuclear deterrent arsenal because they provide India with a much needed ideal and invulnerable second-strike capability stated in India's Nuclear Doctrine and thus shift the balance of power in India's favour in Asian region.[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "India To Begin Production of Nuke Missile". Defencenews. 2011-09-27. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "The Secret 'K' missile family". Indiatoday. 2010-11-20. 
  3. ^ a b c "News / National : India successfully test-fires underwater missile". The Hindu. Retrieved 2013-01-28. 
  4. ^ a b c "Sagarika missile test-fired successfully". The Hindu. 2008-02-27. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "India to test a submarine-launched ballistic missile". RUSNAVY. 29 December 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2012. 
  6. ^ a b T.S. Subramanian (November 2008). "Shourya test-fired successfully". 
  7. ^ "India activates 'secret' undersea missile". The New Indian Express. 11 August 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  8. ^ "India test fires missile from under sea, completes nuclear triad". Retrieved 2013-01-28. 
  9. ^ "Success on debut for undersea launch of missile". The Hindu. 8 May 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  10. ^ "India tests new underwater nuclear missile". The Times of India. 26 March 2014. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  11. ^ "India tests 3,000 km range n-missile in secret". The Sunday Guardian. 10 May 2014. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  12. ^ a b India's nuclear policy 2008, p. 81-82.
  13. ^ a b "DRDO Lab Develops Detonator for Nuclear Capable Agni-V Missile As It Gets Ready For Launch". Defence-News. January 17, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Firstpost (2013-01-28). "India test fires first ever ballistic missile from underwater". Firstpost. Retrieved 2013-05-02. 
  15. ^ "Front Page : Sagarika missile test-fired successfully". The Hindu. 2008-02-27. Retrieved 2013-01-30. 
  16. ^ FP Staff (2011-02-23). "5 things you need to know about K-15, India’s underwater ballistic missile". Firstpost. Retrieved 2013-01-30. 
  17. ^ PTI Jan 27, 2013, 06.20PM IST. "India test-fires ballistic missile from underwater platform - Times Of India". Retrieved 2013-01-30. 
  18. ^ "Shourya Missile". 
  19. ^ Business Standard. "India test fires ballistic missile from underwater platform". Business Standard. Retrieved 2013-01-28. 
  20. ^ Last Updated: 28 Jan 06:16 AM IST (2010-01-15). "India test fires ballistic missile from underwater platform". Retrieved 2013-01-28. 
  21. ^ "DRDO working on 5,500 Km Agni". (FINN) Frontier India News Network. 
  22. ^ "India to achieve N-arm triad in February". India-Today. Jan 2, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Agni-VI with 10000 km range to be ready by 2014". IBNLive. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 

Further reading

  • Cohen, Bharat Karnad ; foreword by Stephen P. (2008). India's nuclear policy. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Security International.  
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