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INS Arihant Ready for Operation
Apr 16, 2016

India's first nuclear armed submarine is now ready for full-fledged operations, having passed several deep sea diving drills as well as weapons launch tests over the past seven months and a formal induction into the naval fleet is only matter of time.

The indigenously-built submarine is now fully-operational and over the past few months, several weapon tests have taken place in secrecy that have proven the capabilities of the vessel.

The Arihant, which is the first of five nuclear missile submarines or SSBNs planned for induction, has also undergone deep sea dives off Visakhapatnam where it was build. A Russian diving support ship RFS Epron accompanied the Arihant on its deep sea dives and launch tests. India does not currently possess a submarine rescue vessel of this class—a vital requirement during weapon firing tests where all possibilities need to be catered for.

The Navy has managed to keep under wraps several weapon launch tests from the Arihant over the past seven months.

  • The submarine is to be equipped with K-15 (or BO-5) shortrange missiles with a range of over 700 km and the K 4 ballistic missile with a range of 3,500 km.

  • Arihant's design is based on the Russian Akula-1 Class submarine. It weighs 6,000 tonnes.

  • At a length of 110 metre and breadth of 11 metre, Arihant is the longest in the Indian Navy's fleet of submarines and can accommodate a crew of 95.

  • It can reach a speed of 12 knots-15 knots on surface and up to 24 knots when submerged.

  • Arihant will be able to stay under water for long periods undetected due to the nuclear-powered 80MW pressurised water reactor (PWR). The PWR was developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre with assistance from a Russian design team.

  • The submarine's exterior is uneven and the hull is placed on a mat covered with tiles. The tiles help in absorbing sound waves and provide stealth capability to the submarine.

  • Compared to conventional submarines, the conning tower of Arihant is situated near the bow instead of the centre.

  • The central part of the submarine's body consists of the outer hull and an inner pressurised hull.

  • The starboard side consists of two rectangular vents that draw in water when the submarine submerges into sea.

Indian Submarine Programme

When it comes to undersea naval fleet, Indian Navy's submarine strength is not as impressive as its neighbour China. According to the latest Pentagon estimates, China's PLA Navy  currently possesses five nuclear attack submarines (SSN), four nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), compared to India's one functional nuclear Akula-class Chakra. India's indigenously built nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant is still undergoing last phase of performance trials.

In an attempt to bolster the maritime prowess, Indian government has cleared the indigenous construction of seven stealth frigates and six nuclear-powered submarines at a cost of about Rs. 1 lakh crore in February 2015. The mega plan, the first of its kind, could give the navy much-needed teeth but it will take a long time to implement—even accelerated development will take close to a decade before the first boat comes in.

The decision to build the six new submarines is part of the 30-year submarine building programme cleared in 1999. The plan is to have 24 submarines in 30 years. The first project was the P75, under which six Scorpene-class submarines are being built in India. The ongoing Rs. 23,562 crore construction of six French Scorpene submarines at Mazagon Docks (Mumbai) is running behind schedule.

Another project for six more submarines was cleared by the government last year and this project was titled P75I. Billed as the largest Make in India project, the P 75I is in its final stages and the navy is set to go ahead with the process to select a foreign design.


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