India has taken a major stride towards ensuring national security with the successful launch of an underwater ballistic missile on Sunday.
The nuclear-capable submarine-launched missile was test-fired from the Bay of Bengal off the Visakhapatnam coast and all the parameters of range and accuracy were tellingly achieved. It was appropriate that the proud achievement was made a day after the Republic Day when the nation showcased its military might on the Rajpath. One important attraction of the parade was the ballistic missile Agni-5 which has strengthened and highlighted the country’s nuclear deterrence capability. The underwater missile capability will complement it and will add to the country’s defence profile.
The medium range K-15 missile has been under development for some years and with the successful completion of trials it will be integrated with the nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant. Arihant is expected to be ready for sea trial soon. Four other nuclear-powered submarines are also scheduled to join the navy’s strike force later. When these and other underwater missiles of longer range are ready for deployment India will have a full-fledged second strike capability. It took some years for the full development of all the missiles in the Agni series. A land version of the K-15 missile is also being developed simultaneously.
The success with the underwater missile puts India in a club of only four other countries – the US, Russia, France and China – which have similar capability. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) should be congratulated for taking the country to that high level of achievement. Though the defence research organisation has been an underperformer in many areas it has produced excellent results in missile development. It is also planning a test flight of its subsonic cruise missile which will supplement the Brahmos missile and will be inducted into the forces in the coming months. The country has adopted a no-first-strike nuclear policy but it has to be prepared to face any threats to security. All the wings of the armed forces have to be ready for it. The navy had not received adequate attention in this respect till now and the imbalance has to be rectified. The long sea coast and the vital shipping lanes close to the country make it important for the country to be able to protect its rising economic interests.