INS Arihant on Friday carried out a successful test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in the Bay of Bengal

The defence ministry said the nuclear-powered submarine carried out the launch “very high accuracy”.

“INS Arihant carried out a successful launch of a Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) on 14 October. The missile was tested to a predetermined range and impacted the target area in the Bay of Bengal with very high accuracy,” the ministry said in a statement.

It said “all operational and technological parameters of the weapon system have been validated”.

The defence ministry in a statement said the SSBN program is a key element of India’s nuclear deterrence capability.

It said a “robust, survivable and assured retaliatory” capability is in sync with the country’s policy to have ‘credible minimum deterrence’ that underpins its ‘no first use’ commitment.

“The successful user training launch of the SLBM by INS Arihant is significant to prove crew competency and validate the SSBN program, a key element of India’s nuclear deterrence capability,” the defence ministry said.

“A robust, survivable and assured retaliatory capability is in keeping with India’s policy to have ‘credible minimum deterrence’ that underpins its ‘no first use’ commitment,” it said.

Let’s take a closer look at why this is significant:

This is seen as a major milestone to further boost India’s strategic strike capabilities.

India’s nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) program is a closely guarded project. INS Arihant was the first boat under the SSBN project that was reportedly followed by another boat, INS Arighat.

As per defence analysts, the test further signals the credibility of India’s naval nuclear deterrent.

Indian ballistic missile submarines may now be able to target China and Pakistan from underwater locations when deployed.

The launch further shows the home-made INS Arihant class submarines are operational ‘in all respects’, as per the report.

INS Arihant was commissioned in 2016 by then defence minister Manohar Parrikar.

Though the ministry did not put up an official statement on which missile was fired, defence sources said it was the nearly 750-kilometre range K-15, which is already in service.

The K-4 missile underwent its maiden test in January 2020 from a fixed underwater pontoon on the east coast, as per The Print. India is also working on a nearly 5,000-kilometre range missile called the K-5.

INS Arihant is the first of three indigenously built nuclear submarines.

The INS Arihant is designed to carry 12 K-5 or four K-4 missiles.

The 6,000-ton vessel was built under the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project at the Ship Building Centre in the port city of Visakhapatnam.

INS Arihant, based on the Russian Akula-1 class submarine, was launched on July 26, 2009, the anniversary of Vijay Diwas (Kargil War Victory Day), by then prime minister Manmohan Singh.

It was commissioned in 2016 by then defence minister Manohar Parrikar after a series of sea trials.

Its induction into the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) — responsible for India’s nuclear arsenal — was one of the biggest developments for the armed forces in the last decade, as per The Print.

India completed the nuclear triad with its induction.

As per The Print, India is among just six countries in the world to have the capability to fire a nuclear missile from land, air and undersea.

The others being the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom.

Submarines-launched nuclear missiles are a ‘force multiplier’ for any nation as they are difficult to track before launch, as per the report.

India has been a leading voice in pitching for universal nuclear disarmament aimed at complete elimination of atomic weapons.