Nuclear Submarines Current Affairs - 2019
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India’s first indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant has successfully completed its first deterrence patrol. The development signifies that underwater warship has completed its maiden long-range mission with live nuclear-tipped missiles.
During deterrence patrol, a nuclear submarine carries nuclear missiles on board, where command and control protocols for its operations are fully tested by its crew. The term deterrence patrol is meant to deter an adversary from launching a first nuclear-strike since SSBN (Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear) can launch retaliatory strike within minutes. With this, India completed its survivable nuclear triad by adding maritime strike capability to land and air-based delivery platforms for nuclear weapons. It makes India sixth country — after US, Russia, UK, France and China — to have fully operational nuclear triad.
INS Arihant is India’s first indigenously-designed, developed and manufactured nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, and three more such submarines are reportedly under various stages of construction. It was designed in 1990s and its development project was officially acknowledged in 1998. Its design is based on the Russian Akula-1 class submarine.
It was launched in 2009 and its nuclear reactor went critical in 2013 and it was commissioned in 2016. It is strategic asset developed for over two decades with Russia’s help under Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) programme, which comes directly under Nuclear Command Authority headed by the Prime Minister.
INS Arihant is 6,000-tonne submarine with length of 110 metres and breadth of 11 metres. It is powered by 83 MW pressurised light water nuclear reactor with enriched uranium fuel. It can carry 12 Sagarika K 15 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) having range of over 700 km.
As it powered by nuclear reactor it can function submerged for months without having to surface. This feature allows it to travel further and with greater stealth capability. It assures second strike capability to India i.e. capability to strike back after being hit by nuclear weapons first. In case of India, second strike capability is important as it had committed to ‘No-First-Use’ policy as part of its nuclear doctrine.
Nuclear triad capability of India
India is sixth Nation in the world (after US, Russia, France, China and UK) to possess Nuclear Triad. It means that India is capable of delivering nuclear weapons by aircraft, land based ballistic missiles and submarine launched missiles. India Army has strong arsenal of land based ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile). It includes Agni series, Prithvi series, Prahar Missile, Shaurya Missile, supersonic Brahmos and subsonic Nirbhay missiles. Indian Airforce (IAF) operates Jaguars aircrafts which are designed for deep penetration strike and can carry nuclear bomb. Besides, IAF also has SU 30 MKI and Rafale aircrafts which can also be used to deliver nuclear weapons. Indian Navy now has its own nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
India has signed agreement with Russia to lease second Akula-II class nuclear attack submarine (SSN). The deal is believed to be worth about $2 billion.
The lease to transfer a multipurpose Project 971 nuclear submarine to India from the Russian Navy was signed in Goa on the sidelines of 8th BRICS Summit. The second nuclear submarine is expected to arrive in Indian waters in 2020-21.
- India had earlier leased first Akula-II class nuclear attack submarine (SSN) for a period of 10 years from Russia.
- It was inducted into service as INS Chakra (formerly known as K-152 Nerpa) in April 2012. Its lease expires in 2021.
- Since then, India had expressed interest in leasing at least one more submarine to train Navy crew in complex submarine operations to have a large fleet of nuclear submarines.
Akula-class submarines of Project 97 (NATO name Akula-II) weigh around 8,140 tonnes. They are considered one of the most silent SSNs in service and are capable of sailing at speeds up to 35 knots. They are nuclear powered but are armed with conventional land attack missiles.
- Earlier in August 2016, India had quietly inducted its first indigenously built nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) Arihant into service completing its nuclear triad.
- Besides, follow-on submarines are also planned and at least two are in various stages of construction which will give India strategic foothold in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
- The second indigenous nuclear submarine of the same class, INS Aridhaman, will be commissioned in 2018.
Pakistan does not have a nuclear submarine and lacks a nuclear triad. China has four nuclear-powered submarines in operation and in a couple of years this number that will go up to six. China’s Nuclear-submarines carry a version of the Dong Feng nuclear missile that has a range of up to 7,000 km.