INS Arighat, the Indian Navy’s second nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, will be commissioned soon. According to sources, Arighat has ‘performed well’ during sea trials.
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It was expected to be commissioned in the late 2020s. However, the same was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and would receive operational clearance soon.
The submarine is the second in its class, the first one being the INS Arihant, currently in service with the Navy. These submarines are a part of India’s nuclear triad, classified as Strategic Strike Nuclear Submarines.
Arighat, similar to the INS Arihant, can carry four nuclear-capable K-4 SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missile) with a range of over 3,500 kilometers or twelve conventional warhead K-15 SLBMs with a range of about 750 kilometers. The K-15 can also carry a strategic nuclear warhead.
The submarines also carry torpedoes and mines. 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.
According to India Today, the two new units, the S4 and S4 ‘star’, displacing over 1,000 tonnes more than the Arihant class will move into the SBC drydock vacated by the two Arihant-class submarines.
These submarines, fitted with eight ballistic missiles or twice the Arihant’s missile load, will be launched by 2022. An official has said the Arighat launch has more to do with creating more workspace within the cramped SBC (Ship Building Centre, Visakhapatnam) for assembling the S4 and S4 ‘star’.
It was announced on November 5, 2018, that INS Arihant had completed its first deterrent patrol. The 20-day long patrol ended on November 4, 2018, and PM Narendra Modi felicitated the crew of Arihant after the mission.
According to independent experts, India’s another nuclear-powered submarine (although not carrying ballistic missiles), the INS Chakra, was sent along with INS Kalvari (diesel-electric submarine) to search for the Pakistani submarine PNS Saad, which was believed to be deployed in the sea after the 2019 Balakot airstrike amid heightened tensions between both countries.