New Delhi: India’s Nuclear-Powered Ballistic Missile Submarine INS Arihant has cleared all deep sea and weapons firing trials and is waiting for clearance from the Indian Navy to be officially inducted into the force. It will soon join India’s underwater fleet and assume operational duties in service to the nation.
INS Arihant will guarantee India a second strike nuclear capability against arch rivals China and Pakistan. It completes India’s Nuclear Triad, a capability that allows a country to launch a nuclear missile from Land, Air and Sea. INS Arihant has four vertical launch tubes, which can carry 12 (three per launch tube) smaller K-15 missiles or four larger K-4 missiles. The K-4 has a longer range of 3,500 km and has completed all trials.
Advanced Technology Vessels (ATV) Project
Constituted in the late 1980’s, the main aim of the project was to equip India with a second strike platform capable of launching retaliatory strikes against hostile states.
India realized the significance of deterrence during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, US in support of its ally Pakistan dispatched ‘Task force 74’ led by USS Enterprise into the Bay of Bengal to intervene in India’s fight for Bangladesh. Realizing the immense fire power the carrier group, India requested the intervention of Russia which dispatched its nuclear powered submarines to trial the task force. It was only for the interference of the Soviet’s the day was saved for India.
Soon India setup the Advanced Technology Vessels (ATV) project with the sole purpose of constructing nuclear powered submarines which could carry nuclear tipped ballistic missiles. The exact events pertaining to the project was shrouded in secrecy and not much is known about the vessels constructed under the program. The project was cleared as a ‘black project’ and was put under direct control of the PMO. The project is believed to be cleared in the early 90’s and was accelerated soon after India successfully completed ‘Smiling Buddha’.
The major hurdle in realizing the project was miniaturizing the nuclear reactor for powering the submarine. India’s leading atomic research organization, ‘BARC’ was put in charge of designing and fabricating a nuclear reactor to power the submarine. BARC designed, pressurized water reactor (PWR) using enriched uranium as fuel at its Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research Centre at Kalpakkam. The reactor was capable of producing 83 MW of power and was labelled ‘S-1’ and consisted of the reactor, control systems and the shielding tank, the reactor went critical on 11th November 2013.
The state owned shipyard HSL, Vizag was put in charge of the project. The work on the submarine began at a fully enclosed dry dock at Vishakhapatnam. At the heart of the sub was a 83 MW PWR reactor and the sub itself was designed based on the Russian Akula class submarine. Leading private industries were also extensively involved in the project, L&T provided the hull, BEL and HEC was crucial in developing the reactor and shielding compartments, Tata power pitched in with its high end control systems.
The lead vessel of the class ‘INS Arihant’ was launched on 25th July 2009 at Vishakhapatnam. Dedicating the submarine to the nation, PM openly acknowledged and lauded sustained Russian support for the program. The submarine then underwent an extensive fitting out process and by the late 2012 was then moved to docks for sustained harbour trials for system tests and validation. The submarine underwent repeated controlled submerged tests for hull pressure tests. The submarine was repeatedly put through extensive tests to analyse its high pressure capabilities.
INS Aridhaman is the second Arihant-class submarine.She is the second nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine being built by India. She is being built under the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project to build nuclear submarines at the Ship Building Centre in Visakhapatnam. This submarine will have double the number of missile hatches than its predecessor INS Arihant giving it the ability to carry more missiles. This will have a more powerful reactor than its predecessor.