Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 5, 2018 announced that India’s first indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant has successfully completed its “first deterrence patrol".
The development signifies that the underwater warship has completed its maiden long-range mission with "live" nuclear-tipped missiles. On the occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated all those involved in the process, especially the crew of INS Arihant for the great accomplishment.
• The 6,000-tonne INS Arihant, which was under development for three decades under a highly classified programme, comes under the direct control of the Nuclear Command Authority headed by PM Modi.
• Following the successful completion of its "deterrence patrol", INS Arihant can now be considered a fully functional underwater ballistic missile delivery platform.
• The ballistic missile submarine is a strategic asset as it can fire city-destroying missiles from anywhere in the ocean and remain undetected for a long time.
• It can also sneak closer to the coast of an enemy nation and fire ballistic missiles deep into their territory, which otherwise cannot be reached by land-based short-range ballistic missiles.
• India’s long-awaited nuclear triad, the capability to fire nuclear weapons from land, air and sea, is finally operational almost five decades after it was first conceived for credible strategic deterrence and 20 years after the Pokhran-II tests.
• INS Arihant has completed India's nuclear triad by adding maritime strike capability to land and air based delivery platforms.
• All the big five nuclear nations including the US, Russia, France, China and the UK are already full-fledged nuclear triad powers.
• China reportedly began combat patrols of an armed nuclear-powered submarine in 2015.
• Pakistan last year tested its submarine-launched Babur missile and in the process completed its nuclear triad since it already possesses land-based ballistic missiles as well as tactical nuclear bombs that it can drop from its fighter aircraft.
India has had the land-based Agni missiles for long, with the over 5,000-km Agni-V inter-continental ballistic missile now in the process of being inducted and fighter jets jury-rigged to deliver nuclear weapons. However, INS Arihant gives it much more nuclear teeth and credibility.
The triad's underwater leg in the shape of nuclear-powered submarines armed with ballistic missiles, called SSBNs, is considered to be the most secure, survivable and potent platform for retaliatory strikes.
Unlike land-based missiles and fighter-bombers that can conceivably be destroyed in pre-emptive enemy strikes, SSBNs can remain undetected in deep seas for months at the end.
INS Arighat, the second SSBN under-construction at the ship-building centre at Vizag, was launched in November 2017 and is slated to become operational by 2020.
It will be followed by the launch of two 7,000-tonne submarines code-named S-4 and S-4*, which will be armed with six missiles each instead of the four each in INS Arihant and INS Arighat, by around 2020-2022. The design of 13,500-tonne S-5 submarines is also underway.
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