Arihant - India's First Nuclear Submarine!!!

5 Aug 2009, Comments: | Views: 3996 | | Category: India Defence

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India reached a remarkable milestone when when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh his wife Gursharan Kaur, launched the country's first Indigenous nuclear submarine for sea trails. The 6000-tonne submarine will first be put on sea trials for two years before being commissioned into full service.In these two years, the submarine will also undergo harbour trials of its nuclear reactor and other systems.Sunday's launch coincides with Vijay Diwas marking India's triumph over Pakistani intruders in Kargil.With the launch of the submarine India will join the exclusive club of US, Russia, China, France and the UK with similar capabilities.

What enhances the scale of the achievement is that INS Arihant, India’s nuclear-powered submarine, will be fitted with India’s own K-15 ballistic missiles that can be launched from under water. The K-15 missiles, which are already under production, can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads. They have a range of 700 km. They are 10.4 metres tall and weigh 6.3 tonnes each.

“This is a very big capability,” a DRDO official said. “It means we can launch missiles with nuclear warheads from ground, drop nuclear bombs from air and also fire them now from under water.”While the Navy designed INS Arihant, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) built the mini-nuclear reactor that powers the submarine, the DRDO developed the K-15 missiles. The K-15 missiles have been test-fired several times from submerged pontoons off the coast of Visakhapatnam. A missile emerging from the water without losing its fire was a technology in itself.

What makes a nuclear submarine the most preferred option is that it’s extremely difficult to detect and target by an adversary. Unlike conventional diesel-electric submarines, a nuclear-powered submarine can operate underwater for unlimited periods of time. This is especially important for a country like India, which has a declared no-first-use nuclear doctrine and, hence, must have a survivable and lethal second-strike capability to retaliate against a conceivable first pre-emptive strike by an enemy.

Trails Ahead

Even though this is a significant step, Arihant has to undergo rigorous trails before inducting it into service. The Navy officials are saying that the trails will be over in two years, some analysts say it may take four to five years.“Each and every system has to be tested and flushed clean. It will take four sets of flushing and a year before the miniature 80 MW nuclear reactor, and its containment vessel fitted in the submarine’s hull, attains criticality,” said a senior officer connected with the ATV (advanced technology vessel) project.Moreover, at present, it will be armed with only the 700-km range two-stage K-15 SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles), which pale in comparison to the well over 5,000-km range missiles of the US, Russia and China.

The Indian Navy will also get a Russian-built Akula class nuclear submarine, to be commissioned as INS Chakra, by the year-end. Currently undergoing sea-trials, the delivery date for the Russian submarine was pushed back following an accident on board. The navy will use the submarine to train its crew in handling nuclear-powered vessels.

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