K-4 (SLBM)

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Type Intermediate-range SLBM
Place of origin India
Service history
In service Undergoing trials
Production history
Manufacturer DRDO
Weight 17 t (19 short tons)[1]
Length 12 m (39 ft)[1]
Diameter 1.3 m (4.3 ft)[1]
Warhead 2,500 kg (5,500 lb)[2] Nuclear

Engine Solid-fueled
3500 km
Arihant class submarines

K-4 is an intermediate-range nuclear-capable submarine-launched ballistic missile under development by DRDO of India to arm the Arihant class submarine and to complement K-15 Sagarika. The missile has an effective range of 3500 km.[3]


Difficulties with compacting the Agni-III to fit the 10 metre diameter INS Arihant hull led to the development of K-4. K-4 features range comparable to Agni-III while being significantly smaller in size (12m vs 17m). INS Arihant will carry 4 K-4s or 12 K-15s.[4] The K-4 gas-booster were successfully tested from a submerged pontoon in 2010.[5] There will be at least six tests before induction of K-4 which is likely to take place in 2017.[6] The short development time of the missile is attributed to the fact that major systems of the missile were developed during the development of K-15 Sagarika missile.


The K-4 is a project of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) and it was kept secret for many years. The missile is approximately 12 metres (39 ft) long, has diameter of 1.3 metres (4 ft 3 in) and weighs 17 tonnes (19 tons). It can carry a warhead up to 2 tonnes (2.2 tons) and uses solid propellant. This missile could be best characterised as a hypersonic cruise missile as it remains within the earth’s atmosphere during its entire flight duration. To make it even more survivable, it follows a zig-zag path in three dimensions. Defence scientists involved in the missile's development stated that the aim of the missile was to achieve a high accuracy, with a close to zero Circular error probable (CEP).[1][full citation needed]

Once inducted, the missile will not only complete India’s third leg of the nuclear deterrent, but also be the second strike weapon system. It can target major enemy cities even remaining away from the opponent waters. The next missile in this series is the K-5, which will have a strike range of nearly 5,000 km.[1]


The missile was scheduled to be tested from a pontoon (replica of a submarine) nearly 50 feet under the sea surface in September 2013, but the test was delayed due to unspecified technological development.[1][7] The missile was first test fired from a depth of 30 metres on 24 March 2014. The test was successful and the missiles reached its range of 3,000 km. Another testing of K4 was done in May 2014. It is expected to undergo several more tests from submerged pontoons and finally from submarines before being getting operational.[8][9][10][11]

See also[edit]