On 23 February, India’s first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) was announced as fully ready for operations, after having passed several deep sea diving drills as well as weapons launch tests during the past five months. Officials expect the INS Arihant
to be inducted into the navy soon.
in Sanskrit means, “Slayer of Enemies”.
The Indian Navy has maintained tight security over the Arihant’s
progress, especially its weapons tests during the past five months. The submarine is to be equipped with K 15 (or BO-5) short range missiles with a range of over 700 km and the K 4 ballistic missile with a range of 3,500 km.
One senior official said, “It has passed all tests and in many things has surpassed our expectations. Technically the submarine can now be commissioned at any time.” The commissioning date could be as early as next month, requiring only a decision by the Modi government. A communication facility for the SSBN force already has been commissioned into the Navy.
At present, work is in progress on two more Arihant-class submarines at the Ship Building Center (SBC) in Vishakhapatnam. They are planned to be larger and more advanced than the first boat. At present, the only nuclear powered submarine in Indian service is the INS Chakra, an Akula-class attack submarine (SSN) on lease from Russia.
The navy is also accelerating work on INS Varsha – a new strategic naval base with underground pens on the eastern coast near Kakinada – where the nuclear assets would be based.
The Navy’s Submarine Design Bureau also is working on a new class of nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSN) that it hopes to induct within the next 15 years. The plan is to build at least six SSNs in India.
Arihant has been more than 40 years in the making and benefitted from extensive Soviet and then Russian assistance. It is a “pocket” SSBN, about one third the tonnage of a US Ohio-class SSBN. It carries four vertical launch tubes which can launch up to 12 short range missiles and four K-4 missiles.