New Delhi: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), India's umbrella organisation for defence related research, acknowledged Monday that it had successfully acquired the technology to launch sub-surface or submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). This makes India only the fifth country in the world, along with the US, Russia, the UK, France and China to posses the capability to launch missiles from air, land, ships and submarines.
The achievement was made evident once Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, presented a performance excellence award for 2007 to AK Chakrabarti, under whose leadership a team of 86 scientists developed the SLBM technology. The project to develop India's SLBM has been variously referred to as the K-15 or Sagarika project.
''The team has designed and developed a state-of-the-art missile system with the capability of being launched from sub-surface (underwater) environment,'' the DRDO's citation said.
The Sagarika/K-15 was test fired successfully on 26 February this year as well as last year from a submerged pontoon. The missile is powered by a turbojet and carries a 500-kg payload over a 700-km range. The missile is 8.5 metres in length and about a metre in diameter.
Until Monday's function, the government had refused to acknowledge that the country had acquired the capability to launch under-sea missiles.
It may now be acknowledged that India has joined the elite ranks of four other countries, the US, Russia, the UK, France and China that have the capability to launch missiles from air, land, ships and submarines.
DRDO sources clarified that the missile's performance was "far higher" than the requirement specified by the navy. "It has already been accepted by the user and is presently under productionisation for induction into the services,'' the citation said.