INS Ari­hant – Strate­gic Arm of Nu­clear Triad

The most sig­nif­i­cant take away from the suc­cess of the Pro­gramme was the groom­ing and de­vel­op­ment of indigenous pri­vate sec­tor com­pa­nies who have fo­cussed on con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ments to suc­cess­fully bring down the cy­cle time on sub­se­quent projects while pr

SP's NavalForces - - FRONT PAGE - Rear Ad­mi­ral Sushil Ram­say (Retd)

The most sig­nif­i­cant take away from the suc­cess of the Pro­gramme was the groom­ing and de­vel­op­ment of indigenous pri­vate sec­tor com­pa­nies who have fo­cussed on con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ments to suc­cess­fully bring down the cy­cle time on sub­se­quent projects while pro­gres­sively im­prov­ing qual­ity by re­duc­ing the non-con­for­mi­ties.

tHe Vi­sion Aries WHO fores AW in­dia emerg­ing as a reck­on­able global power had iden­ti­fied few fu­tur­is­tic ca­pa­bil­i­ties to be home-grown and called them as tech­nol­ogy Demonstrators of the na­tion. A most ef­fec­tive, yet silent de­ter­rent ca­pa­bil­ity cho­sen then was nu­cle­ar­pow­ered bal­lis­tic mis­sile sub­marines, com­monly known as ship sub­mersible Bal­lis­tic nu­clear (ssBn). the ob­jec­tive was very clear to cre­ate indigenous ca­pa­bil­ity for a po­tent nu­clear triad. con­sid­er­ing that there will be mam­moth chal­lenges, enor­mous dif­fi­cul­ties of all kinds and road­blocks of in­con­ceiv­able na­ture and mag­ni­tude, the pro­grammes had to be a closely guarded top se­cret va­ri­ety. some­times in the early 1980s the bold de­ci­sion saw the pro­gramme be­ing chris­tened un­der an in­nocu­ous and un­sus­pect­ing name AtV (Ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy Ve­hi­cle).

the found­ing fa­thers (there were sev­eral agen­cies in­volved right from its in­cep­tion) launched the pro­gramme with per­fect co­he­sion, de­vo­tion and ded­i­ca­tion that it re­mained un­de­terred, de­spite sev­eral set­backs and re­ver­sals of unimag­in­able di­men­sions. the most dom­i­neer­ing of the set­backs be­ing the dis­so­lu­tion of the former soviet Union, the main bul­wark on which the ed­i­fice of fu­ture tech­nolo­gies was to be built. such a huge body-blow too was braved most com­pe­tently by in­dia, and sev­eral im­pon­der­ables re­lat­ing to se­cu­rity, in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, geo-strate­gic par­a­digm, im­pli­ca­tions on tech­nol­ogy trans­fers, etc. were man­aged with Žlan.

The Re­al­ity

Pass­ing through the stormy weath­ers, sev­eral phases of tri­als and tribu­la­tions in­dia in­deed has ar­rived at the pro­fessed mile­stone by be­com­ing the worldÕs sixth coun­try to suc­cess­fully op­er­a­tionalise a ssBn. the pipe-dream of the na­tion Builders is now trans­formed into re­al­ity. this is just the be­gin­ning of the strate­gic pro­gramme which has three more of the fol­low-on ssBns with far greater ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy up­grades, spec­i­fi­ca­tions, ca­pa­bil­i­ties, etc. Op­er­a­tional­i­sa­tion of Ari­hant marks the grow­ing emi­nence of the indigenous ca­pa­bil­i­ties, in­fra­struc­ture, in­dus­trial sup­port and above all the self-re­liance.

Ari­hant, which trans­lates to an­ni­hi­la­tor of en­e­mies, was launched by the then Prime Min­is­ter Dr Man­mo­han singh on July 26, 2009. Ari­hant is pro­pelled by an 83 MW pres­surised light-wa­ter re­ac­tor at its core. in 2013, the nu­clear re­ac­tor of Ari­hant went Ôcrit­i­calÕ. since then a se­ries of daunt­ing tri­als com­menced, the first be­ing ex­ten­sive Harbour Ac­cep­tance tri­als (HAts). On suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of HAts from De­cem­ber 2014 on­wards be­gan the cru­cial sea Ac­cep­tance tri­als (sAts) which in­cluded ex­ten­sive ma­chin­ery, equip­ment and sys­tems tri­als and in­te­gra­tion out at sea, both on sur­face and sub­merged. the most in­ten­sive se­ries of sAts was the test fir­ing of K-se­ries of mis­siles. The K-se­ries of mis­siles have been named af­ter former Pres­i­dent Dr APJ Ab­dul Kalam. the K-15 sub­ma­rine-launched bal­lis­tic mis­sile has a range of 750-km and the K-4 has a range of up to 3,500-km. Based on the avail­able re­ports Ari­hant is now fully ready and has been de­ployed for de­ter­rent pa­trols with nu­clear-tipped bal­lis­tic mis­siles in its si­los.

On Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 17, 2016 all lead­ing na­tional dailies an­nounced that ins Ari­hant was for­mally com­mis­sioned by Ad­mi­ral su­nil Lanba, chief of the naval staff in Au­gust 2016. At the same time same sources added that to main­tain se­crecy, it is not be­ing re­ferred to as ins Ari­hant.

Ca­pa­bil­i­ties of Ari­hant

Ari­hant, a 6000 ton nu­clear pow­ered SSBN is ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing nu­clear tipped bal­lis­tic mis­siles and is de­signed to prowl the deep and far-flung oceans, with un­re­stricted sub­merged en­durance car­ry­ing nu­clear weapons and pro­vide in­dia with an as­sured sec­ond strike ca­pa­bil­ity Ñ the ca­pa­bil­ity to strike back af­ter be­ing hit by nu­clear weapons first.

Ari­hant is equipped with bet­ter stealth fea­tures and is larger com­pared to ssns, which are nu­clear-pow­ered at­tack sub­marines. ssBns are also said to be the Òbest guar­an­torÓ of a sec­ond strike ca­pa­bil­ity in a nu­clear ex­change. Ari­hant is equipped with short range mis­siles with a range of 700 km and also has bal­lis­tic mis­siles with a range of 3,500 km.

com­ple­tion of the nu­clear triad is ex­tremely crit­i­cal for in­dia given the coun­tryÕs Òno first strikeÓpol­icy. sec­ond strike ca­pa­bil­ity is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant for in­dia as it had com­mit­ted to a Ôno-firstUseÕpol­icy as part of its nu­clear doc­trine.

in­dia has re­port­edly con­ducted a se­cret test of the nu­clear-ca­pa­ble un­der- sea bal­lis­tic mis­sile, code named K-4. As per a re­port pub­lished in the new in­dian ex­press the sub­ma­rine-launched bal­lis­tic mis­sile (SLBM) was test-fired from INS Ari­hant at an undis­closed lo­ca­tion in the Bay of Ben­gal. the re­port quoted a source as say­ing that the mis­sile was test-fired on March 31, 2017 some 45 nau­ti­cal miles from the Vishakha­p­at­nam coast in Andhra Pradesh. the mis­sile test was dubbed as Ôhighly suc­cess­fulÕ.

the K-4 mis­sile, de­vel­oped in­dige­nously, was test-fired with a dummy pay­load in full op­er­a­tional con­fig­u­ra­tion. The re­port said the mis­sile was launched from a 20-me­ter depth and suc­cess­fully broke through the wa­ter sur­face.

Among the no­table fea­tures of the K-4 sLBM, its range is 3,500 km. the mis­sile mea­sures 12 me­tre in length and 1.3 me­tre in width. it weighs 17 tonnes and can carry a nu­clear pay­load of 2,000 kilo­grams. its en­gine is solid fu­elled.

De­fence Ex­perts’ Views

the de­ploy­ment of ins Ari­hant would com­plete in­di­aÕs nu­clear triad, al­low­ing it to de­liver atomic weapons from land, sea and air. Only the United states and rus­sia are con­sid­ered full-fledged nu­clear triad pow­ers now, with china and in­di­aÕs ca­pa­bil­i­ties still largely untested.

china be­gan com­bat pa­trols of an armed nu­clear-pow­ered sub­ma­rine last year, the Wash­ing­ton times re­ported in De­cem­ber 2016, cit­ing the US Strate­gic com­mand and De­fence in­tel­li­gence Agency. While china has­nÕt made a for­mal an­nounce­ment, and US of­fi­cials haven’t con­firmed that nu­clear-tipped JL-2 mis­siles were on board the sub­marines con­duct­ing pa­trols, they have no ev­i­dence that the ves­sels werenÕt armed.

even so, nei­ther in­dia nor china has quite reached the tech­ni­cal prow­ess to give them a cred­i­ble nu­clear de­ter­rent. their sub­marines are loud and eas­ily de­tected, mak­ing them an un­likely sec­ond-strike as­set, the Lowy in­sti­tute for in­ter­na­tional Pol­icy said in a Septem­ber 2016 re­port.

in­dia needs to show the world it can ca­pa­bly and ef­fec­tively op­er­ate the nu­clear-armed sub­ma­rine, said Jon Gre­vatt, Asia-Pa­cific de­fence-in­dus­try an­a­lyst for iHs JaneÕs. the Òim­por­tant mile­stoneÓ is part of a big­ger strat­egy to en­sure its se­cu­rity, he said. Òthe Ari­hant is a step­ping stone for in­dia,Ó he said. Òi donÕt think it will al­ter the bal­ance of power in the re­gion un­less In­dia has a fleet of four or five such sub­marines.”

The Indigenous Ca­pa­bil­ity

ins Ari­hant was built to­tally to the indigenous de­sign un­der the Ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy Ves­sel Project (AtVP) at the ship Build­ing cen­tre in Visakha­p­at­nam.

the top se­cret Project was steered di­rectly un­der the su­per­vi­sion of the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice and in­volv­ing agen­cies and es­tab­lish­ments such as the De­fence re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion, the Depart­ment of Atomic en­ergy, the sub­ma­rine De­sign Group of the in­dian navy, Direc­torate of naval De­sign. the pro­gramme was wholly sup­ported through de­sign con­sul­tancy, trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy, con­sul­tancy on con­struc­tion and in­fra­struc­ture cre­ation and de­vel­op­ment by the former soviet Union and the rus­sian fed­er­a­tion.

While the time over-run and the cost over-run ad­versely im­pacted the pres­ti­gious project, it re­ceived un­stinted and con­tin­u­ous sup­port by suc­ces­sive Gov­ern­ments in in­dia, many regime changes in the former soviet Union and the rus­sian fed­er­a­tion never im­peded the time tested in­ter Gov­ern­men­tal Agree­ments. this turned out to be prov­i­den­tial for AtVP.

The most sig­nif­i­cant take away from the suc­cess of the Pro­gramme was the groom­ing and de­vel­op­ment of indigenous pri­vate sec­tor com­pa­nies who have fo­cussed on con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ments to suc­cess­fully bring down the cy­cle time on sub­se­quent projects while pro­gres­sively im­prov­ing qual­ity by re­duc­ing the non-con­for­mi­ties. Many engi­neer­ing gi­ants with great sense of na­tional pride have par­tic­i­pated in the Pro­gramme. role played and con­tri­bu­tions made by Larsen & Toubro, be­fit­tingly de­serve spe­cial men­tion here. the firm, be­sides mak­ing huge in­vest­ments in cre­ation of in­fra­struc­ture and spe­cific fa­cil­i­ties, tech­nolo­gies, niche ca­pa­bil­i­ties, etc. has re­mained an in­te­gral part of the Pro­gramme right from its in­cep­tion and con­tin­ues to be so even for the fol­low-on pro­gramme, as well. L&t has clearly emerged as a na­tional as­set as for the indigenous sub­ma­rine con­struc­tion ca­pa­bil­ity is con­cerned. With pos­i­tive sup­port from AtVP, L&t has been able to in­dige­nously de­velop the com­plete tor­pedo Weapon com­plex, mak­ing coun­try self-re­liant in this cru­cial tech­nol­ogy.

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