The Indian Naval chief on Wednesday said its first home-built nuclear submarine was set for sea trials, bringing the "triad" – the ability to fire nuclear weapons from the land, sea, and air – a step closer.
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma also gave newspersons in New Delhi some details of the armed forces' billion-dollar projects to arm its navy with modern warships, aircraft and weaponry.
The 6,000-ton INS Arihant (meaning 'destroyer of enemies') project unveiled in 2009 as part of a programme to construct five such vessels which would be armed with nuclear-tipped missiles and torpedoes. However, the launch of the vessel has (not surprisingly for India) been dogged by delays and uncertainty, the Navy chief admitted.
"Arihant is steadily progressing towards being operational, and we hope to commence sea trials in the coming months," Admiral Verma said. "Our maritime and nuclear doctrine will then be aligned to ensure that our nuclear insurance comes from the sea."
Arihant is powered by an 85-MW nuclear reactor and can reach a speed of 44 km an hour (24 knots). It will carry a 95-member crew.
The Arihant has four missile silos on its hump to carry either 12-K-15-S or four 3,500-km range K-4 missiles, which are under development. It will head for the sea only after its 83 MW pressurised light-water reactor goes "critical". So far, it has been undergoing systematic checks of all its sub-systems as well as "harbour-acceptance trials" on shore-based steam at Vizag.