The indigenously-built nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant on Monday left the Visakhapatnam harbour for sea trials in the Bay of Bengal, a crucial step towards India’s goal of completing its nuclear triad — ie. its ability to launch strategic weapons from land, air and sea.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar flagged off the 6,000 tonne Arihant — which means destroyer of enemies. The submarine is likely to be inducted into the navy by the end of next year after completion of sea and weapon trials.
It will be equipped with the K-15 missile, a closely guarded Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) secret, capable of delivering a nuclear warhead up to 750 km away.
The miniature reactor on board the submarine attained criticality last August. The Arihant will complete the sea-leg of India’s nuclear triad, giving it enduring nuclear strike and counter-strike capabilities.
India already has the capability to carry out nuclear strikes with fighter planes and land-launched missiles. The Agni series of ballistic missiles and fighters planes, such as Sukhoi-30MKIs and French-origin Mirage-2000s, can deliver nuclear warheads.
The United States, Russia, the UK, France and China are the only countries that can deliver nuclear warheads from a submarine. India’s submarine fleet is expected to have at least five nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines in the future.