With the completion of INS Arihant’s first patrol, India officially declared its nuclear triad complete.
• INS Arihant, India’s first nuclear ballistic missile submarine completed its first deterrence patrol.
• It was quietly commissioned in 2016 itself, but it was officially acknowledged only now.
• INS Arihant is first of the Arihant class of Indian nuclear-powered ballistic submarines (also called SSBN, i.e., Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear).
• The Arihant class submarines are first nuclear-powered submarines to be built indigenously by India.
• It is powered by an 83 MW Pressurised Light Water Reactor. Being nuclear-powered, it can stay underwater indefinitely till rations last.
• INS Arihant was developed under Indian Navy’s Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) Project.
• It can carry twelve K-15 Sagarika missiles (range 750 km) or four K-4 missiles (range 3500 km) or K-5 missiles (range 5000 km).
• Both K-4 and K-5 are under different stages of development.
• The next submarine of Arihant class is INS Arighat which is under trials and will carry twice the number of missiles as INS Arihant. It is expected to be delivered in 2019.
• Two other submarines are under construction.
• While INS Arihant is more of a technology demonstrator, INS Arighat will be a full fledged SSBN.
India’s Nuclear Triad:
• INS Arihant, armed with nuclear SLBMs (submarine launched ballistic missile), has completed India’s nuclear triad.
• A nuclear triad comprises land-based ICBM (inter-continental ballistic missile), SLBM and strategic bomber aircraft.
• India already has land-based Prithvi-1 (150-600 km), Agni-1 (700 km), Agni-2 (2000 km), Agni-3 (3000 km), Agni-4 (3500 km), Agni-5 (5000 km).
• India also has many aircrafts capable of nuclear attack – Mirage 2000 h, Jaguar IS/IB, MIG-27.
• India has a No First Use policy (NFU) regarding nuclear weapons. Its N-weapons are part of “minimum credible deterrence” policy.
• Importance of INS Arihant lies in the fact that land and air based nuclear weapon systems are easy to detect as compared to SSBN.
• This three-branched nuclear capability significantly reduces the possibility that an enemy could destroy all of a nation’s nuclear forces in a “first strike” attack. This ensures credible threat of nuclear counterstrike.