Nu­clear re­ac­tor on INS Ari­hant goes crit­i­cal

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In­dia re­cently ac­ti­vated the atomic re­ac­tor on­board the in­dige­nous nu­clear sub­ma­rine INS Ari­hant paving way for its op­er­a­tional de­ploy­ment by the In­dian Navy soon, thus com­plet­ing the ca­pa­bil­ity on land, air and sea. Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, all sys­tems of the in­dige­nously made nu­clear re­ac­tor are on “go” and the sub­ma­rine will soon be launched to sea on the Eastern coast. In May, the then De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO) Chief V.K.Saraswat had in­di­cated that the sea tri­als of Ari­hant would be held soon.

Nu­clear triad is the abil­ity to fire nu­clear-tipped mis­siles from land, air and sea. Af­ter the nu­clear re­ac­tor is ac­ti­vated, the agen­cies con­cerned can work to­wards ready­ing the warship for op­er­a­tional de­ploy­ments soon.

The DRDO has also read­ied a medium-range nu­clear mis­sile BO-5 for de­ploy­ment on the Ari­hant and its last de­vel­op­men­tal trial was held on Jan­uary 27 off the coast of Vishakha­p­at­nam. So far, the US, Rus­sia, France, China, and the UK have the ca­pa­bil­ity to launch a sub­ma­rine-based bal­lis­tic mis­sile.

Though this comes as good news for In­dia’s de­fence ca­pa­bil­i­ties, there is some con­cern over the over­all strength of In­dia’s sub­ma­rine fleet. In­dia has 14 con­ven­tional sub­marines that run on ei­ther bat­tery or diesel and are ag­ing and out­dated. Each of them will have com­pleted the stan­dard life-span of 25 years by 2017. The nu­clear sub­ma­rine will help In­dia achieve the ca­pa­bil­ity of go­ing into high seas with­out the need to sur­face the ves­sel for long du­ra­tions.

The Prime Min­is­ter Dr Man­mo­han Singh said “I am de­lighted to learn that the nu­clear propul­sion re­ac­tor on­board INS Ari­hant, In­dia’s first in­dige­nous nu­clear pow­ered sub­ma­rine, has now achieved crit­i­cal­ity. I ex­tend my con­grat­u­la­tions to all those as­so­ci­ated with this im­por­tant mile­stone, par­tic­u­larly the Depart­ment of Atomic En­ergy, the In­dian Navy and the De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“To­day’s de­vel­op­ment rep­re­sents a gi­ant stride in the progress of our in­dige­nous tech­no­log­i­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties. It is tes­ti­mony to the abil­ity of our sci­en­tists, tech­nol­o­gists and de­fence per­son­nel to work to­gether for mas­ter­ing com­plex tech­nolo­gies in the ser­vice of our na­tion’s se­cu­rity. I look for­ward to the early com­mis­sion­ing of the INS Ari­hant.”

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