India will send its first ballistic missile submarine on patrol armed with nuclear weapons within a year, Navy chief Adm Nirmal Verma acknowledged on Thursday.
The nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Arihant, will conduct deterrent patrols after it enters service in 2011-12. Strategic deterrence will be based on the K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, capable of delivering nuclear warheads up to 700 km.
Verma said the deterrent force will complete India’s nuclear triad (ability to launch strategic weapons from land, air and sea). “It is only a triad when you have the capability to launch a strategic weapon from the platform. I’m saying the triad will be there when it (Arihant) is commissioned,” Verma said.
To be armed with 12 ballistic missiles, Arihant will provi-de India enduring nuclear strike and counter-strike capabilities.
China has two ballistic missile submarines — the old Xia and latest Jin class — but the warships are not known to have taken up deterrent patrols yet.