US Expert Calls India’s ‘Mysterious’ Ballistic Missile Submarine A Formidable Deterrent To Regional Opponents

Indian Navy’s new ballistic missile submarine, INS Arighat, which is the second in the Arihant-class SSBN, is expected to join the service this year.

The two submarines that still remain a mystery could significantly boost India’s naval might vis-a-vis its adversaries — Pakistan and China.

Last month, the Indian Navy had expressed its willingness to go for the procurement of six more nuclear submarines instead of a third aircraft carrier, a move stated to significantly boost its capabilities against the rising aggression of the People’s Liberation Army Navy in the Indian Ocean.

Even India’s arch-rival Pakistan has a fleet of at least five conventionally-powered attack submarines.

Closely guarding the Malacca Straits, the Indian Navy’s presence in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has been an important strategic asset for New Delhi in the Indian Ocean Region.

These quiet predators lurking under the sea can operate indefinitely without needing to refuel until supplies run out for the crew.

What’s more interesting is the fact that these super-secretive Indian nuclear ballistic missile submarines are perhaps one of the world’s least-photographed vessels ever, according to the defense analyst H I Sutton.

Nearly all the photos available on the internet themselves are many years old. These two Arihant-class submarines also complete India’s nuclear triad, capable of carrying the nuclear-tipped submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), K-15 ‘Sagarika’ and K-4.

The K-4 is an intermediate-range SLBM, which can be armed with nuclear warheads delivering payloads up to 1900 nautical miles. This is almost four times the range of the K-15 ‘Sagarika’ SLBM, which is stated to be an interim solution having a range of 400 nautical miles with a 1,000-kg warhead.

Four large-diameter missile silos are arranged in a single line behind the submarine’s sail. Initially, these are fitted with triple tubes for the K-15. However, each missile tube is expected to fit a single K-4 in the future.

Meanwhile, Sutton believes that the commissioning of the second Arihant-class submarine, the INS Arighat, sometime this year would not change the secretive approach of the Indian Navy towards the boat’s capabilities.

But its commissioning may provide new clues to the classes’ capabilities. And any differences between the two boats. Also, the third of the class my emerge from its construction hall soon, he writes for Naval News.

“The defense world is patiently waiting,” he remarked.

The Arighat was quietly launched in November 2017 by then-Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. A total of 4 vessels are planned in the class, the first two being INS Arihant and INS Arighat with a total displacement of 6,000 tonnes.

The remaining two are yet to be named and would be bigger having a displacement of 7,000 tonnes with enhanced capability of carrying 12-15 long-range ballistic missiles.