The government recently approved the induction and deployment of the 700-km range surface-to-surface supersonic Shaurya strategic missile even as there has been progress in the development of the 5,000-km range K-5 submarine-launched ballistic missile, people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity. They added that the 800-km range subsonic (below the speed of sound) Nirbhay cruise missile will be tested in the next couple of weeks and be inducted into both Indian Army and Navy shortly after.
learns that a limited number of Nirbhay missiles have already been deployed in response to the Chinese build-up in Tibet and Xinjiang.
The tests and the deployments need to be seen in the context of the ongoing impasse between Indian and Chinese troops at the Line of Actual Control.
In the past month, the government has tested the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV), the pre-cursor to building missiles that can travel at a minimum of five times the speed of sound (September 7), the extended range version of the supersonic cruise missile BrahMos (on September 30; with a range of 400 km, up from the existing 290 km); the nuclear-capable Shaurya supersonic missiles that can travel at twice to thrice the speed of sound (October 3); and the supersonic missile assisted release of torpedo that targets submarines (October 5). BrahMos is also a supersonic missile.
The Shaurya missile is the land version of submarine launched BA-05 missile and has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO). The land version was discreetly tested for the final time before induction and as part of user trials from Balasore on October 3. It will be soon deployed at locations identified by the Indian Strategic Forces Command under guidance from National Security Council. The missile has a warhead weighing around 160 kilograms
According to top missile experts, Shaurya is a delivery system stored in a composite canister for rapid deployment and minimum interaction with the elements. The strategic missile flies within the atmosphere at a height of 50 kilometres. The experts added that the government’s decision to go for land version is significant as the missile can be launched by a single vehicle.
DRDO is also making rapid strides in the development of 5,000 km version of the submarine launched ballistic missile of SLBM. With a range equivalent to Agni-5 land based ballistic missile, the K-5 will be deployed on-board the Arihant class of nuclear submarines. While the missile scientists are tight-lipped about the K-5 SLBM, the weapon system is expected to be tested in the next 15 months and subsequently deployed on the INS Arihant and the INS Arighat a new class of heavier submarine which is under harbor trials. INS Arighat is expected to be commissioned within the next six months and INS Arihant is already deployed in forward positions.
Analysts said that coming at a time when India is engaged with a belligerent Chinese Army in the Ladakh sector, the testing and deployment of short-range delivery platforms clearly conveys the Modi Government’s intention of not backing down to any aggression or cartographical expansion plan of any adversary in the neighbourhood.