(MAMOSA Report); Oct 19, 2016 — The Indian Navy has commissioned the country’s first domestically developed and built ballistic missile nuclear submarine (SSBN) in complete secrecy in August, according to local media reports.
The INS Arihant is a 6,000-ton submarine that is capable of launching nuclear weapons from underwater.
India’s Ministry of Defense has neither officially confirmed nor denied the commissioning of the sub, The Diplomat reports.
“There will soon be an opportunity to talk about it,” GS Pabby, Indian Navy Vice-Admiral and Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition, told reporters this week.
An unnamed defense official reportedly confirmed the commissioning to The Hindu. “It (INS Arihant) has gone through severe sea trials and was finally inducted in the Navy in August and has been operational since then,” he said.
With the commissioning of the Arihant, India has joined the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China in operating SSBNs. However, it is premature to call India a nuclear triad power just yet. The INS Arihant is primarily a technological demonstrator, based on the Russian Project 971 Akula I-class nuclear-powered attack submarines, rather than a fully operational SSBN, the news magazine commented.
The INS Arihant is slated to be armed with the K-4, an intermediate-range nuclear-capable submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), currently being development by India’s Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO). The K-4 has an estimated range of up to 3,500 kilometers.
The INS Arihant is not yet fully ready to be deployed for deterrent patrols with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles in its silos, says a TOI report.
The INS Arihant will serve as a blueprint for India’s future fleet of four to five Arihant-class SSBNs to be built under the so-called Advanced Technology Vessel project. The ship building center at Vishakhapatnam is reportedly currently working on the second and third submarine of the class. The second Arihant-class SSBN, INS Aridhaman, is expected to be commissioned in 2018.
(Based on reporting in The Diplomat and The Financial Express)