NEW DELHI: Contrary to claims, India’s first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant is still not ready for sea trails, a stage critical for testing the vessel’s systems and weapons before it can be commissioned into the Navy.
Arihant’s miniaturised nuclear reactor, built with Russian help, had gone critical in last August and since then the 6,000-tonne vessel has been put through a series of harbour acceptance trials, which could take a few more months, according to top navy sources here.
The vessel, powered by a 83-MW pressurised light-water reactor operated with enriched uranium fuel, was to sail out for sea trials earlier this year, but the Navy has not been able to take the vessel out, as more tests are being conducted to ensure foolproof sea trials of all systems on board, sources said.
The vessel going out to sea trials is critical for India to test its home-grown submarine-launched ballistic missile with nuclear weapon capability. The DRDO has already developed and successfully tested from a submerged pontoon a missile code-named Bo5, but called in popular parlance as K-15, having a 750-km range.
Once Arihant goes for the sea trials and does a six-to-eight months of testing of systems, it will also get to fire the Bo5, 12 of which will be carried by the vessel. The DRDO has maintained that its missile is ready and is awaiting the Arihant to fire it and validate the nuclear triad.
The DRDO is keenly awaiting that moment, as it will successfully complete India’s nuclear triad -- the capability to launch nuclear-capable ballistic missiles from surface, air and undersea platforms.
The nuclear triad is critical for the country for a credible deterrence against a nuclear attack, considering that it has a stated ‘no first strike’ nuke doctrine.
India currently operates Russian-origin nuclear-powered INS Chakra submarine, leased from Russia in 2012 for use by the Navy for 10 years for nearly `5,000 crore, primarily to gain experience in operating such a platform, considering that it plans to have a fleet of at least five such indigenous vessels in its fleet in the immediate future.
India has maintained that its nuclear submarine fleet strength will be dictated by the maritime security dynamics of the Indian Ocean region and the extended neighbourhood.