2015-11-27 By Gulshan Luthra
Dateline New Delhi.
According to reliable sources, the vital first test in ejecting a missile from its onboard silos was conducted November 25.
Proverbially, adding a feather to the cap of the Indian Navy and scientists from DRDO and BARC, the firing was done remotely from a far away location by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC), India’s nuclear command authority which is tasked with creating nuclear deterrence.
Primarily, the test was to check system alignments for smooth and safe ejection and the requirements were met.
To mention more achievements, the indigenous submarine has also successfully completed the critical diving tests, and significantly, met nearly all its design and designated parameters just about 100 per cent, including the maximum possible power option tests.
It is actually good news all over, but the last one final step before the submarine is inducted as INS Arihant formally in the Indian Navy will be the firing of proper missiles albeit with unarmed warheads.
Details are unavailable but this should happen soon enough as there are indications of the submarine taking part in the International Fleet Review (IFR) being held by the Navy in February.
The boat should be operational by then, sources told India Strategic.
The missile fired was a dummy version of DRDO’s B 5, which approximately has a range of 1000 km. Later, missiles with a reach of 3500 to 4000 km, are likely to be inducted onboard.
India plans to build some half a dozen Arihant class, in line with the country’s nuclear doctrine which calls for No First Use but Massive Retaliation if attacked.
Arihant is built with Russian designs, but this will be the country’s first nuclear powered nuclear attack submarine, classified in international naval lingo as SSBN.
India has one more nuclear powered submarine, INS Chakra, leased from Russia, but that cannot fire nuclear missiles. The classification for such boats is SSN.
Like any submarine, both INS Arihant and INS Chakra are pearl shaped to accommodate the vertically launched missiles, and designed to move faster underwater than on the surface.
They can stay deep in the darkness of the oceans for months, the only restrictions being the limits on human tolerance and availability of nuclear fuel.
It may be recalled that the project for nuclear submarines was sanctioned soon after the 1974 nuclear test by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi but it suffered when Morarji Desai and VP Singh took over as Prime Ministers in the coming years.
In 1983, Mrs Gandhi pushed the project once again with required funds, but it was in 1998, when India conducted the second round of nuclear tests, that Prime Minister AB Vajpayee sanctioned the project afresh, and a decision was also taken to involve the private sector.
Larsen & Toubro, India’s premier engineering construction company, was involved right from then onwards.
L&T, as it is known, has done commendable work in gradually and systematically building a horizontal supply-chain base and meeting the DRDO and naval specifications.
DRDO, or Defence Research and Development Organisation, has been in-charge of the India’s missile systems programs throughout, which it has delivered with distinction.
Nuclear propulsion systems have been installed and managed by experts from BARC, or Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.
Indications of Arihant’s journey have been coming out for some time, and recently, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Robin Dhowan mentioned the possibility of its inclusion in the IFR in rather positive terms although he did not understandably commit.
The tests are done one by one, and for a nuclear boat, every single check is critical. Deployment has to be thoughtfully and carefully, even if it takes time as safety and success are both paramount.
Notably, in IFR, only operational ships and submarines can and will take part.
Republished by permission of our strategic partner, India Strategic.