Indian Navy carried out test launch of a submarine launched ballistic missile on October 14, 2022. India operates three indigenous homemade ballistic missile submarines and has developed two submarine-launched surface-to-surface missiles, the K-15 and the K-4. After the US, Russia, the UK, France, and China, India is the sixth country in the world to have nuclear-powered submarines armed with ballistic missiles.
The Ministry of Defense of India said that “INS Arihant carried out a successful launch of a Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) on October 14, 2022. The missile was tested to a predetermined range and impacted the target area in the Bay of Bengal with very high accuracy. All operational and technological parameters of the weapon system have been validated. The successful user training launch of the SLBM by INS Arihant is significant to prove crew competency and validate the SSBN programme, a key element of India’s nuclear deterrence capability. A robust, survivable and assured retaliatory capability is in keeping with India’s policy to have ‘Credible Minimum Deterrence‘ that underpins its ‘No First Use’ commitment.
According to some media sources, the missile launched in the recent test was not the K-4 SLBM but the older K-15 SLBM. At present INS Arihant is armed with K-15 SLBM which has a range of 750 km.
About the INS Arihant nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine
INS Arihant is the lead ship of India’s Arihant class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. The 6,000 tonne vessel was built under the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project at the Ship Building Centre in the port city of Visakhapatnam.
Arihant was launched on 26 July 2009, the anniversary of Vijay Diwas (Kargil War Victory Day) by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. After fitting out and extensive sea trials, on 23 February 2016, she was confirmed as ready for operations, commissioned in August 2016, and deployed operationally in 2018.
INS Arihant is the first of the planned five in the class of submarines designed and constructed as a part of the Indian Navy’s secretive Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project. The ATV project was set up in 1984, under Vice Admiral Mihir K. Roy as the first Director General.
The Arihant class submarines are reported to be based on the Akula-class submarine. Their crew were to have the opportunity to train on INS Chakra, an Akula-class submarine, which the Indian Navy leased from Russia. Arihant is intended to be more of “a technology demonstrator” than a fully operational SSBN according to Admiral Nirmal Verma.
The vessel is powered by an 83 MW pressurised light-water reactor with enriched uranium fuel. A land-based prototype of the reactor was first built at Kalpakkam and made operational in September 2006. Successful operation for three years yielded the data that enabled the production version for Arihant. It was reported that an 80 MW nuclear reactor was integrated into the hull of the ATV in January 2008.
Arihant has four vertical launch tubes, which can carry 12 (three per launch tube) smaller K-15 missiles or four larger K-4 missiles. The K-4 has a longer range of 3,500 km (2,200 mi), and had commenced trials in 2014.