The Indian Navy is poised to complete the country’s nuclear triad as the homegrown nuclear submarine INS Arihant is expected to be launched for sea trials soon. According to Indian Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma, INS Arihant is steadily progressing towards its operationalisation and sea trials are expected in the coming months.
Speaking at his farewell press conference, Indian Navy Chief Nirmal Verma stated that a credible retaliatory strike capability is a must considering India has a no-first-use commitment. INS Arihant is part of a project which will entail the construction of five such vessels equipped with nuclear-tipped missiles and torpedoes.
According to Indian Navy officials, INS Arihant is now the in last stage of testing and if things go as per schedule, the INS Arihant should be able join the Indian Navy within the next 18 months. INS Arihant is a 6,000 tonne nuclear submarine powered by an 85-megawatt nuclear reactor. The homegrown submarine can reach 44 kilometres an hour (24 knots) and will carry a 95-member crew.
Admiral Nirmal Verma added that the commissioning of the nuclear attack submarine INS Chakra in January launched India into a select group of six nations with such capabilities. The Russian-origin submarine INS Chakra has added considerable punch to India’s maritime power and will aid in developing future concepts of naval operations in this very critical sphere, he added.
Currently, Indian Navy’s fleet 14 conventional submarines is nearing obsolescence since each of them would have completed the standard life-span of 25 years by 2017. The Indian Navy is planning to issue a tender soon for six new diesel electric submarines under Project-75 India (P-75 i).
Admiral Verma added that the rapidly depleting force level of Russian Kilo-class submarines and German HDW diesel electric submarines has led to P-75 I project and the proposal to build two submarines out of that at a foreign collaborator's shipyard. This will enable Indian technicians to gain expertise and cut down in delays when building in India. The Defence Ministry has been approached with this proposal.
At the press conference, Indian Navy Chief also listed the major modernisation plans of the force. He said that the government has given approvals for around 200 Navy proposals worth of over Rs 2.73 lakh crore, of which contracts worth over Rs 92,000 crore have already been concluded.
Admiral Verma added that 15 ships have been commissioned into the Navy over the past three years, which is a record of sorts. These include the three Shivalik class stealth frigates, two fleet tankers, one follow-on 1135.6 class stealth frigate sail training ship and eight water-jet FACs.
Besides, the navy has also commissioned INS Dweeprakshak and Naval Air Station Baaz in Campbell Bay in Andaman and Nicobar islands to enhance maritime security in Island territories. In addition, the Coastal Radar Network is expected to be in place in two months time. The radars will be a crucial component of the coastal security mechanism which will facilitate monitoring and identification of maritime traffic.