The man steering India’s highly classified nuclear-powered submarine programme has acknowledged for the first time that the warship will be armed with ballistic missiles.
Vice-Admiral D.P.S. Varma (retd), Director General, Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) project, told HT at DEFEXPO-2010, “The K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missiles jolly well be there on INS Arihant when it is inducted into the Navy. The N-sub should hopefully be with the Navy by the end of 2011.”
The K-15 missile, a closely guarded DRDO secret, is capable of delivering a nuclear warhead up to 700 km. With 12 ballistic missiles in its arsenal, the Arihant will complete the sea-leg of India’s nuclear triad and give it enduring nuclear strike and counter-strike capabilities. India can carry out nuclear strikes with fighter planes and land-launched missiles.
Asked how work on Arihant was shaping up, Varma said, “We are on track. But the proof of the pudding lies in the eating. So we will know when the Navy inducts it.”
The usually tight-lipped Varma said India’s submarine fleet should have five to six nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. He said plans were afoot to build two more nuclear-powered submarines to reinforce India’s strategic deterrent force at sea. He said, “We have to cross a certain milestone before going into specifics.”
Larsen & Toubro, which built the hull for Arihant, has fabricated the hulls for the new N-subs. The United States, Russia, the UK, France and China are the only countries that can deliver nuclear warheads from a submarine.