With INS Arihant, India can now launch nuclear missiles from air, land, and sea

by G Hari Kumar

With the commissioning of INS Arihant, India joined an elite of group of nations that have the capability to launch nuclear tipped weapons from Air, Land, and sea – reports said. India’s first indigenously built nuclear submarine was reportedly commissioned in secrecy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August this year after it was declared ready for sea trails in February.

Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear (SSBN) or SSBN's are those class of submarines which can lurk deep beneath the ocean making them virtually undetectable for months, they also carry nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles. INS Arihant provides India with a second strike capability, or the capability to strike back after a nuclear attack from either Pakistan or China. It is noteworthy that Pakistan has a “first strike” policy, by which it can attack any country with its nuclear arsenal first, if necessary.

Besides INS Arihant, two other such subs are also being constructed, The Times of India reported. The construction of these began under the ATV (Advanced Technology Vessel) program launched “decades ago”. INS Aridhaman, the next of these naval vessels, is likely to be completed by 2018.

INS Arihant is powered by an 83 MW pressurised light water nuclear reactor. It will be armed with the K-15 Sagarika missiles with a range of 750 km. Later, the submarine will also be armed with the much longer range K-4 missiles, capable of striking targets at a distance of up to 3,500 km. The missiles are being developed by DRDO. India’s land-based Agni missiles and fighter-bombers have been able to launch nuclear missiles for some years now. Indian scientists must strive to make INS Arihant an operational SSB

INS Arihant's miniaturised Nuclear Power Plant by designed & developed by BARC & DRDO

A Resounding Message

Ties between India and Pakistan nose-dived since the terror attacks on the Indian Army in the Uri & Pulwama sectors. At Pulwama, the Pakistanis went a step too far. The accustomed routine of braggadocio, denial and threat followed.

The time for talking and preaching had run aground. Prime Minister Modi prepared the ground for India’s eventual response with meticulous care. The time for action as a weapon of last resort had clearly arrived. The PM took counsel with his closest aides; he consulted the Army Chief and provided him with his brief. In the early hours of September 29, Indian Special Forces under the cover of darkness slipped deep across the Line of Control in Kashmir and took out eight terrorist bases in a superbly orchestrated operation without the loss of a single Indian life. The intelligence details given them were clinical and precise, it is also significant because for the first time the special operation forces used real-time visual feed from India's spy birds in space to carry out the strikes. The effect was devastating, the message resoundingly clear.

The Asian Voice editorial wrote, "Indian resolve and Indian power will have their own salutary effect on friends and foes alike. The image of a shambling giant unsure of itself, incessantly appealing to others for counsel will now be revised. India has served notice that there are limits to her forbearance. This includes the leaders of the separatist Kashmiri Hurriyat whose arrogance, hopefully for their sake, will be tempered with a measure of realism and modesty. Those who value Indian friendship and have done so steadfastly in the past will invest added value to the relationship."

For the people of India, the lesson in resolute statecraft will have left an abiding impression. Prime Minister Modi, who took the final call deserves high praise for his courage and perspicacity; the Army and intelligence services are owed a deep debt of gratitude. Indian unity in diversity has passed a crucial test.

Additionally, INS Arihant adds another significant dimension and clout to India's ambitions to keep its two nuclear-powered adversaries at bay principally because the SSBN provides India the much needed second strike capability.

19 May 1998 Confirmation of project by then Def Mns George Fernandes
11 November 2003 Prototype nuclear reactor becomes critical
22 September 2006 Nuclear reactor is declared operational
26 July 2009 Lead vessel of the class, INS Arihant, is formally launched
10 August 2013 Arihant's on-board nuclear reactor attains criticality
13 December 2014 INS Arihant begins extensive sea & weapons trials
25 November 2015 INS Arihant successfully test-fired dummy B5 missile
31 March 2016 INS Arihant successfully test-fired K4 missile
August 2016 INS Arihant commissioned.
19 Nov 2017 INS Arighat launched
Early 2018 INS Arighat to begin sea trials
2019 INS Arighat to be delivered.

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