India has tested systems that would enable it to launch ballistic missiles from submarines, officials said Tuesday, a move that boosts the country's nuclear deterrence capabilities.
Submarine launched ballistic missiles, or SLBMs, are considered an important element in creating nuclear deterrence, giving it second strike capabilities in the event its land or air-based weapons are disabled.
Indian media reports Tuesday said India had successfully launched a SLBM with a range of some 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) in recent days.
However, the Ministry of Defense denied this, saying only that India's state-run Defense Research and Development Organization had tested components of an underwater launch system.
"No SLBM of the said range has been launched by the DRDO," said ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar. "Only the development of technology elements for potential underwater capabilities is in progress." He gave no further details of the test.
Last week Defense Minister A. K. Antony informed Parliament that a submarine-launched version of India's Brahmos supersonic cruise missile was ready. However, the Brahmos, which can carry nuclear warheads of up to 200 kilograms (440 pounds) in weight, has a maximum range of 290 kilometers (180 miles).
Also, none of India's current submarines have the capability to launch missiles. India was searching for a suitable platform to test the Brahmos, Antony said.
The Press Trust of India news agency, quoting navy officials, said that India has asked Russia for the loan of a submarine to carry out test trials of the missile later this year.
The Brahmos was developed jointly by India and Russia. A land-based version has been inducted into the Indian army.
India is currently building an indigenous nuclear powered submarine that would have the ability to launch ballistic missiles. But it is not expected to enter service for several years.