by Brig Arun Bajpai

What could be a better Diwali gift to the nation then first indigenously built SSBN, nuclear powered submarine INS ARIHANT (S73), meaning ‘Slayer of the Enemies’, completing its deterrent sea patrol with full compliment of nuclear tipped ballistic missiles on board on 5 November 2018. Indeed, it was a historic red letter day for India to finally complete its TRIAD. Pakistan must be a really worried country now because this finally takes the winds out of sails of Pakistan projected cross border proxy war, which it has been mounting on India since 1988.

The Advanced Technology Vessel program, which India started in 1980, meaning building an indigenous nuclear-powered submarine capable of carrying and firing nuclear tipped ballistic missiles, faced lot of glitches as this program progressed. No advanced country in the world would help India with technology, this being very sensitive programme. the problems appeared in surmountable, what with first constructing the steel body capable of sustaining sea pressure at deep depths, then miniaturising the nuclear power plant and producing ballistic missiles which this submarine can take on. Further problem came of stabilising the submarine which is 367 feet long, Beam 10.97 feet, Draught 10.06 feet and displacing 6,600 tons (Surface), when the missiles are fired, generating tremendous down ward pressure. This was achieved by developing suitable software. It was also necessary to ensure that Arihant remains in communication with National Command Centre despite enemy’s first nuclear strike, because of India adopting second nuclear strike stance. So, number of redundancies were developed to achieve this.

All this took its own time till on 25 Aug 2016 Arihant was commissioned. Being first of its class, Arihant went through exhaustive sea trials before finally undertaking its deterrent sea patrol. It can now be said that Arihant has a very high degree of technical sophistication, incorporating state of art technology meeting global is genuinely indigenous, not only the steel hub but all the critical parts. Indian PSUs, Shipyards and private industry have participated in its construction. INS Arihant's co-partner the INS Aridaman, the second nuclear powered submarine has been launched in 2017 and will join the Navy fully operational by 2020. By 2022 we will have two more nuclear powered submarines who will be larger and more powerful .it must be understood that after building such world class top of the line nuclear submarines, the ecosystem in private and public sector built as a result of construction of these SSBNs will have tremendous spin-off for India in time to come in submarine building.

In the world of nuclear power and nuclear attack capability, today the most potent weapon is nuclear powered submarine SSBN. Till a country does not have a TRIAD it can not be said as really a nuclear power. Reason being that the land attack nuclear tipped missiles and aircraft borne nuclear missiles can be destroyed by the enemy in surprise nuclear attack, but nuclear tipped ballistic missile mounted nuclear submarine cruising deep under the sea which it can do for months without surfacing, is almost undetectable. Such submarine with its load of nuclear capable ballistic missiles cruising in sea is supreme and ideal for second nuclear strike capability. Pakistan who till date use to rattle its nuclear arsenal at the drop of a hat against India and terrorise our Neta’s cannot do it any more with Arihant cruising in deep sea ready for counter nuclear 2022 when we have four indigenous nuclear-powered submarines with us and five batteries of Triumph anti-missile systems, we will be quite immune from Pakistan or China rattling their nuclear arsenal. Pakistan will have no nuclear umbrella to protect its projected proxy war. Even China another nuclear power on our Northern and Eastern borders and inimical to us will be contained. By that time, we will have 5000 km range ballistic missiles mounted on our submarines. So, future for us is bright and now we must not look back in indigenous weapon building capability. Arihant and its future buddies including Triumph Batteries, Rafael fighters and Agni series missiles are our nuclear assets of strategic value. They create our long-awaited TRIAD on which we should now continue to capitalise.

Brig Arun Bajpai (Retd) is a distinguished Defence and Strategic Analyst. Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IDN. IDN does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same