Home > Geopolitics, Indian Defence > Induction of INS Arihant – The Traid is complete

Induction of INS Arihant – The Traid is complete

The recently concluded induction of INS Arihant in the Indian Naval Fleet is of immense significance to the nation. Apart from becoming part of the elite group of nations operating nuclear submarines, the real importance lies in completion of the nuclear triad. This means that, at the date of commissioning of the vessel, India will have the capability to launch nuclear weapons from sea, apart from the already possessed air and land launch capabilities.

India, as a peace loving nation, has a very respectable policy that ensures ‘no first-strike,’ however, a robust nuclear weapons launch system is essential considering a misadventure that may originate from the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) or the North-Eastern Region. In the event of such an incident, where India becomes a victim of a nuclear strike, there needs to be a very responsive system that can counter the threat and deliver a fitting reply. Until the induction of INS Arihant, nuclear weapons launch capability was restricted to land bases and aircraft, meaning that the range achieved via both these mediums was significantly lower, which meant deeper penetration of Indian aircraft into enemy territory, an action that was risky and not guaranteed of success. However the availability of a sea based launch system puts an end to those limitations and completes the triad.

But before the Indian Naval Establishment and the Nuclear Command Authority will begin to breathe easy, two years from today will come to pass as the indigenously built Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) will become operational only by the year 2011as per estimates. The now inducted submarine will complete two full years of sea trails in the Bay of Bengal after which it will be commissioned for full service. Operations personnel, scientists, analysts and technology managers have a huge challenge ahead of them which lies in monitoring the on board reactor and rendering it to attain criticality without any technical glitches.

Furthermore, the valuable lessons that will be learnt from the tests that INS Arihant is put through, will form as a base for other vessels to be built and operated, which, Navy officers and scientists rightly believe will set the precursor to India being a credible and recognizable nuclear power.

Interestingly, the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) program in India came to be conceptualized during the Prime Ministership of Mrs. Indira Gandhi in the year 1970. Not gaining momentum through the 70s and until mid 80s, the vision remained a dream before it was kick started with the support of the erstwhile Soviet Union. The collapse of the USSR stalled the project and robbed many valuable years off it, until work finally resumed in 1998 under the leadership of Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, who was then scientific adviser to the Indian Defence Minister. Formed with the objective of design nuclear-powered fast attack submarines, the ATV program soon re-aligned course aimed at designing and producing ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).

The program although ambitious and steady, was not without its share of problems. Powered by an 80 MW pressurized water reactor (PWR) with enriched uranium fuel, the initial design of the miniaturized naval-version of the reactor was developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) but had a number of technical challenges staring at it, following which Russian help was sought to resolve design issues. The final version of the reactor was then built at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) at Kalpakkam. At a cost of USD 2.9 billion, India will pay a very small price for safeguarding its sovereign from rogue attacks. The Indian Navy estimates that 2 more such vessels will be commissioned by the year 2015. Capable of carrying 6 torpedoes and 12 ballistic missiles, INS Arihant will be a formidable force to reckon with and most importantly India’s prided defender!

The launch on 26th July by the Prime Minister on the 10th anniversary of the Kargil intrusion reinforces India’s strong commitment to upgrade its defence systems aimed at countering evolving threats.

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