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By Bulbul Singh

23 Nov 10. India is developing secretive missiles, which are a combination of both cruise and ballistic missiles. A Sea Launched Ballistic Missile(SLBM) has been tested. “The missiles are being developed with the help of Israel.” said sources.

The SLBM, with a range of over 3500 kilometres has been tested this year and will be inducted in the next two to three years. The missile is a combination of a cruise and ballistic missile unlike the Agni or Prithvi series of ballistic missiles which are ballistic missiles. It has been designed with stealth characters and using advance metals it lightweight.

The SLBM, which can target both China and Pakistan simultaneously, with a 3500 kilometres range, along with the earlier tested missile with a shorter range of 700 kilometres, will be mounted on the indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant which is currently on sea trials. INS Arihant will eventually carry four 3500 kilometres-range SLBM or 12 shorter range SLBMs with a range of over 700 kilometres.

Sources in the Indian defence ministry said, “The latest missiles will eventually replace the Agni and Prithvi missiles as they are more effective in both operation and kill.”

The Prithvi missiles are considered more cumbersome in operation and the Indian Army had been demanding a missile which is easy and quick to operate. The liquid-fuelled Prithvi needs more time to mount and fire compared to the solid-fuelled missiles which Pakistan has in its inventory.

India’s DRDO, with the help of Israeli Aircraft Industries, Rafael and Elbit have designed and developed the latest SLBM and also the earlier shorter range SLBM. No details of the project are available, but sources said, “These missiles had been developed under the classified Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) Program which was known to the public only as a nuclear submarine development programme.

The latest SLBM is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and would arm the most effective third leg of the Indian nuclear triad program. Currently India has capability to delivery nuclear warheads via air aboard a variety of aircraft, land-based systems and now a sea-based capability.

India test-fired the 700 kilometre-range SLBM in November 2008 from its missile testing range at Cnahdipur in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

The latest series of missile will ultimately have a range of over 5000 kilometres by reducing the payload from 1 tonne to 500 kilograms.

Sources said, “While there are plans to have the latest series of missiles for land and air replacing the ballistic missiles, an advanced cruise missile is already under development to be mounted on a Russian SU 30MKI aircraft.

Meanwhile the Indian Air Force is building a missile storage base near the Pakistan border in the border areas of neighbouring states of Punjab and Rajasthan. The base will currently store the 290 kilometre-range land-based BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.

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