The head of the Indian Navy, Admiral Nirmal Verma said on Thursday that India would have in place a nuclear triad for assured second-strike capability, with the deployment of India’s first nuclear-powered nuclear-armed submarine, the INS (Indian Naval Ship) Arihant (Destroyer of Enemies).
He emphasized that the submarine, once commissioned by 2011 or 2012, would be deployed on ‘deterrent patrol’. Naval sources indicated that the Arihant is likely to be armed with the K-series of missiles, the existence of which was recently revealed by Sandeep Unnithan in the magazine, India Today.
The submarine is the first in a series of five, being built at Visakhapatanam. The concept of a nuclear triad to ensure second strike capability requires a nuclear-powered sub-surface sea platform to ensure maximum redundancy.
While, so far, Indian submarines have operated with a single crew each, this first nuclear submarine will also see the development of a two-crew system to minimize the impact of radiation on the health of the submariners due to prolonged exposure, as well as maximize the deployability of the submarine. If required, nuclear-powered submarines can go on patrol for months without surfacing, let alone berthing at a port.
The United Kingdom has the Trident missile-armed Vanguard-class submarines as its sole platform for ensuring second-strike capability.