In a move that has raised concerns in the neighboring nations, India has decided to construct two more nuclear powered Arihant-class submarines. The addition of these submarines will not only be a strategic asset to the navy but will also put India in the exclusive club of nations with such platforms. India is scheduled to induct the first two nuclear submarines, the first being the indigenous INS Arihant and the Russian-leased Akula class INS Chakra, in the near future.
While India’s neighbor Pakistan has raised concerns over such a development, India has justified the significance of building two more submarines in the context of global security architecture and the rising maritime security issues in the Indian Ocean region. Meanwhile, China is also developing its first nuclear-powered submarine as well as other naval platforms and it is inevitable that India will raise its naval capabilities.
India’s first nuclear powered submarine Arihant has been indigenously developed and designed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and is scheduled to go for sea trials next year. In addition, India has just inducted the Russian-made nuclear-powered submarine Nerpa (INS Chakra). INS Arihant will complete India’s nuclear triad and the INS Chakra will remain with Indian Navy on a ten year lease from Russia.
According to sources, the work on the second indigenous nuclear submarine named INS Aridhaman has taken off and works on third submarine will start soon. The advantages of a nuclear powered submarine include its ability to remain under water for more than three months without surfacing. The submarine is hard to detect due to emission of minimal sound signature, causing difficulty to enemy aircraft and anti-submarines in terms of detection.
Once the nuclear submarine is inducted, India will become the sixth operator of nuclear submarines in the world, after the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China. However, it will take India another year to get an operational nuclear weapon triad. The first homegrown 6,000 tonne Arihant nuclear submarine is equipped to carry a dozen K-15 (750-km) or four K-4 (3,500-km) ballistic missiles. INS Arihant is slated to begin extensive sea trials in February-March after the ongoing harbour-acceptance trials.
As for the second ship submersible ballistic nuclear (SSBN) submarine after INS Arihant is to be named INS Aridhaman. These submarines will be armed first with the 750-km K-15 and at a later stage with the 3,500-km K-4 SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles). INS Arihant has four silos on its hump to carry either 12 K-15s or four K-4s. The Indian Navy currently has only 14 ageing diesel-electric submarines and is in dire need of SSBNs and nuclear powered attack submarines.