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Indian Navy will soon induct another indigenous nuclear submarine

Computer graphic of INS Arihant class submarine. (Chanakyathegreat/Wikimedia Commons)
December 22, 2020

One of the most critical and valuable defense projects in India will soon field its second vessel. With a long development history in submarine sectors, India holds a significantly unique place in the world as the first country to develop SSBN first-in-series of its Indigenous submarine construction.

India is likely to commission its second SSBN boat, followed by the lead ship of Arihant class SSBN. INS Arighat, as it’s designated under the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) Project, is close to completing its sea trials, according to the Indian Navy and likely to be readied for induction in the Indian Navy next fiscal year. Project ATV, which is directly under the supervision of India’s NSA Ajit Doval and Prime Minister Office, is considered the most critical defense project ever carried out. It was conceived in the early ’80s after India realized the need for second-strike capabilities within India’s nuclear deterrent policy.

India has long planned for the construction and operation of nuclear-powered submarines, including a nuclear-warhead capable missile carrier and hunter-killer variants. After inducting the first two boats of the Arihant class, called S2 and S3 boats, India will venture ahead for a bigger version of its Arihant class with more improvement on design and propulsion, as well as adding twice the number of missiles, increasing its lethality. Both boats are under construction at the Ship Building Center in Visakhapatnam and are likely to enter service with the Indian Navy sometime around 2024. 

The S4 and S4 boats will host double the number of missile hatches compared to her predecessor, which has four missile tubes. It will allow them to carry eight K-4 missils with 3,500 km strike range and dozens of K-15 missile. In addition, S4 and S4 will field a more powerful reactor, high automation and better improved internal control systems, and will have more than 1000 displacement tonnage compared to Arihant and Arighat. This is anticipated to be the opening for bigger and better SSBNs after S4 twins, comparable to Russian and French S5 submarines, which are in preliminary development and will begin construction after 2028.

In contrast to SSBN development, India is actively working on its 6 SSN program. In 2019, the government granted Rs 100 crore rupees for the initial phase of development of the submarines. After going through successful completion in the initial design phase, the program received the green light from the government for the further advanced and detailed design phase. This meant the government was now ready for providing more adequate resources for the project.

Overall, with these various submarines, India intends to have around 12 nuclear power Submarines by 2030.