INS Arihant launches Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile

This was a user training launch to showcase crew competency

October 14, 2022 07:08 pm | Updated 07:08 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The INS Arihant submarine. Image used for representative purpose only.

The INS Arihant submarine. Image used for representative purpose only.

The country’s first ballistic missile nuclear submarine (SSMN) INS Arihant carried out a successful launch of a Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) on Friday, validating India’s second strike nuclear capability.

“The successful user training launch of the SLBM by INS Arihant is significant to prove crew competency and validate the SSBN programme, a key element of India’s nuclear deterrence capability,” the Ministry said.

In November 2019, India formally declared its nuclear triad, stated in its nuclear doctrine, operational after INS Arihant completed its first deterrence patrol which means Arihant has begun prowling the deep seas carrying ballistic missiles equipped with nuclear warheads.

Without confirming the particular missile, a defence source said it was not the longer K-4 SLBM but the older SLBM in use. INS Arihant is presently armed with K-15 SLBM with a range of 750 km.

The missile was tested to a predetermined range and impacted the target area in the Bay of Bengal with very high accuracy, the statement said. “All operational and technological parameters of the weapon system have been validated.”

A robust, survivable and assured retaliatory capability is in keeping with India’s policy to have ‘Credible Minimum Deterrence’ (CMD) that underpins its ‘No First Use’ commitment, the statement added.

In 1998, India conducted nuclear tests under Phokran-II and in 2003, India declared its nuclear doctrine based on CMD and a NFU policy while reserving the right of massive retaliation if struck with nuclear weapons first.

The Agni series of missiles constitute the backbone of India’s nuclear weapons delivery, which also includes the Prithvi short range ballistic missiles and fighter aircraft. India has also completed its nuclear triad and operationalised its second strike capability, with ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant undertaking deterrence patrols.

The second indigenous SSBN Arighat, which is in advanced stages of sea trials, is scheduled to be commissioned within this year, though no official announcement has been made.

In January 2020, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) had successfully test fired a 3,500 km range SLBM K-4 from a submerged pontoon off Visakhapatnam coast. Once inducted, these missiles will be the mainstay of the Arihant class of SSBNs giving India the stand off capability to launch nuclear weapons submerged in Indian waters.

As reported by The Hindu earlier, Arihant was quietly commissioned into service in August 2016. It has a displacement of 6,000 tonne and is powered by an 83 MW pressurised light-water reactor with enriched uranium. The Advanced Technology Project (ATV) project began in 1980s and the first of them, Arihant, was launched into water in 2009 by then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

Given India’s publicly stated position of NFU, the SSBN is the most dependable platform for a second-strike. As they are powered by nuclear reactors, these submarines can stay underwater indefinitely without the adversary detecting it. The other two platforms — land based and air launched — are far easier to detect.

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