Ballistic Missile Submarines are very important for the Indian Armed Forces in improving and making the nuclear triad of India more capable and powerful. After the success of the first nuclear-powered submarines of the Indian Navy, the Arihant-class, the indian navy has planned to design and develop a new and much more capable class of ballistic missile submarines, which is currently known as the S-5 Class, these nuclear-powered submarines will be the successors of the Arihant-class, they will be powered by a more powerful nuclear reactor, will carry more missiles than the Arihant-class. The Indian Navy currently plans to make 3 submarines of the S-5 Class.
A ballistic missile submarine is a submarine capable of deploying submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) with nuclear warheads.
These submarines became a major weapon system since the Cold War because of their nuclear deterrence capability.
They can fire missiles thousands of kilometers from their targets, and acoustic quieting makes them difficult to detect (see acoustic signature), thus making them a survivable deterrent in the event of a first strike and a key element of the mutual assured destruction policy of nuclear deterrence.
Only six countries in the world, are known for their capability to design and develop Nuclear-powered Ballistic Missile Submarines, these six nations includes the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, and my country India.
The deployment of Nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines is offcourse dominated by the military superpowers of the world, the United States and Russia. France, China, the United Kingdom and India operates a small number of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.
The design and development of nuclear-powered submarines, specifically designing the nuclear propulsion for these submarines is very tough.
India started designing nuclear-powered submarines after a interesting event which happened during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
“In December 1971, during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, US President Richard Nixon sent a carrier battle group named Task Force 74, led by the nuclear-powered USS Enterprise into the international waters of the Bay of Bengal in a show of force. Task Force 74 remained in international waters, where it was legally entitled to be. The records of Nixon-Kissinger communications show no contingency nor any plan under which Enterprise would enter Indian or Pakistani waters, or otherwise intervene in the conflict. In response, the Soviet Union sent a submarine armed with nuclear missiles from Vladivostok to trail the US task force. The event demonstrated the significance of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile submarines to then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Following the 1974 Smiling Buddha nuclear test, the Director of Marine Engineering (DME) at Naval Headquarters initiated a technical feasibility study for an indigenous nuclear propulsion system (Project 932).
The Indian Navy’s Advanced Technology Vessel project to design and construct a nuclear submarine took shape in the 1990s. Then Defence Minister George Fernandes confirmed the project in 1998. The initial intent of the project was to design nuclear-powered fast attack submarines, though following nuclear tests conducted by India in 1998 at Pokhran Test Range and the Indian pledge of no first use, the project was re-aligned towards the design of a ballistic missile submarine in order to complete India’s nuclear triad”.
The Arihant-class submarines are nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines built under the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project.
They are the first nuclear submarines designed and built by India. The submarines are 111 m (364 ft) long with a beam of 11 m (36 ft), a draught of 15 m (49 ft), displacement of 6,000 tonnes (5,900 long tons; 6,600 short tons). The complement is about 95, including officers and sailors. The boats are powered by a single seven blade propeller powered by an 83 MW pressurised water reactor and can achieve a maximum speed of 12–15 knots (22–28 km/h) when surfaced and 24 knots (44 km/h) when submerged.
The submarines have four launch tubes in their hump and can carry up to twelve K-15 Sagarika missiles with one warhead each (with a range of 750 km or 470 mi) or four K-4 missiles (with a range of 3,500 km or 2,200 mi). The third and fourth submarines will have a larger configuration, carrying twenty-four K-15 Sagarika or eight K-4 missiles. The Indian Navy will train on INS Chakra, an Akula-class submarine leased from Russia in 2012.
The submarine’s K-15 missiles can reach most of Pakistan and it’s K-4 can target all of Pakistan. The K-4 may also be capable of targeting Beijing, but would need to be in the northern most waters of Bay of Bengal.
The Indian Navy has planned that the S-5 Class will succeed the Arihant-class. S5 is the code name given to this planned class of Indian nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines currently being developed for Indian Navy. S5 will weigh around twice as much as the preceding Arihant-class submarine.
The S-5 Class is planned to have a maximum displacement of 13,500 tonnes (13,300 long tons; 14,900 short tons). The submarine will be powered by a CLWR-B2 Compact Light-water reactor that will generate a power output of 190 MW (250,000 hp).
Like all other nuclear-powered submarines, the S-5 Class will have a unlimited range, talking about the armament capability of this next-generation submarine, the submarine will carry twelve to sixteen K6 MIRV-capable SLBM with the striking range of 10,000 km (6,200 mi) to 12,000 km (7,500 mi) or K-4 SLBMs with the range of 3,500 km or 2,200 mi.
The Government of India made an assessment of India’s capability to design and construct the submarines of S-5 Class in 2006 when it was realised that the reactor and payload capacity of the Arihant-class submarines was limited.
These submarines were initially planned to be operationalised beginning in 2021 but were later delayed. This delay had prompted the Indian Government to sanction an additional Arihant-class submarine in 2012 to avoid the idling of the production line.