By Elton Gomes
On Monday, India announced that its nuclear triad is operational after indigenous ballistic missile nuclear submarine INS Arihant achieved a milestone by conducting its first deterrence patrol.
This means that INS Arihant is now journeying the deep seas carrying ballistic missiles that are equipped with nuclear warheads. This also means that India is now capable of launching nuclear strikes on the enemy from air, land, and sea.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement by stating that India’s new capability is a “fitting response to those who indulge in nuclear blackmail”, Times Now reported. Mirage 2000s and Agni ballistic missiles complete the remaining two air and land components of India’s nuclear triad.
The 6,000-tonne INS Arihant was under development for three decades and was a highly classified programme. It is included under the direct control of the Nuclear Command Authority headed by PM Modi.
After successful completion of the deterrence patrol, the INS Arihant can now be considered a fully functional underwater ballistic missile delivery platform.
What has PM Modi said?
PM Modi lauded the importance of such a capability. “With the increase in nuclear arms, a credible nuclear deterrence is very important for our country,” the prime minister said at a press briefing, as per a report in Firstpost.
“The success of INS Arihant is a major achievement for our country and a big step towards India’s security. Arihant is an open warning for India’s enemies and for enemies of peace. Arihant’s success is also a fitting response to those who indulge in nuclear blackmail.”
Modi said to the crew members, “On behalf of the nation, I welcome all of you on returning after completing the deterrence patrol.”
He also thanked the naval officials, scientists, and the strategic force command associated with INS Arihant. “The entire nation is grateful to you as the third aspect of our nuclear triad is now complete because of your efforts. By completing this nuclear triad, we have established the capabilities of our nuclear weapons,” Modi said, as per the Firstpost report.
How long did India take to build INS Arihant?
The INS Arihant was first sanctioned using secret funds in the late 1970s by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Gandhi sanctioned the submarine after India conducted its first nuclear test.
The submarine’s design and technology were finalised in 1984 when the formal go-ahead was given, and work on the submarine began in 1998. The Ship Building Centre took almost 11 years to construct the INS Arihant, India’s first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine.
The nuclear submarine was launched on July 26, 2009, by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to mark 10 years since the end of the Kargil War. In August 2013, the submarine’s atomic reactor was activated, and in August 2016, Prime Minister Modi inducted the submarine into the Navy.
Prominent features of INS Arihant
INS Arihant is India’s first indigenously built nuclear submarine. It is capable of carrying 12 K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missiles that have a range of over 700 kilometres. The nuclear submarine weighs around 6,000 tons and has a length of 110 metres with a breadth of 11 metres. It can also dive to 300 metres.
The submarine is also a part of the Indian Navy’s secretive Advanced Technology Vessel project, which is operated under the supervision of the Prime Minister’s Office. The project is also monitored closely by the Department of Atomic Energy and the Submarine Design Group of the Directorate of Naval Design.
Nuclear powered submarines, such as the INS Arihant, can be deployed underwater for months at a stretch before feeling the need to return to their base to stock up on food and provisions for crew members.
After confirming the success of INS Arihant as a nuclear-powered submarine, India has joined Russia, the US, China, France, and the UK in possessing nuclear ballistic missile submarines.
Additionally, India operates the Russian-origin nuclear-powered submarine INS Chakra, which it had leased for 10 years from Russia in 2012. INS Chakra is a nuclear powered fast attack submarine, but it cannot fire ballistic missiles.
Navy working on new nuclear submarines
According to a report in the Economic Times, the Indian Navy’s Submarine Design Bureau is presently working on a new class of nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs).
It is estimated that the submarines could be inducted within the next 15 years. The Bureau plans to build at least six SSNs in India. Financial sanctions have been approved last year for the project that could cost upwards of Rs 90,000 crore.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.
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