• INS Arihant  is the lead ship of India’s Arihant classof nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.The 6,000 tonne vessel was built under the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project at the Ship Building Centre in the port city of Visakhapatnam.
  • Arihant was launched on 26 July 2009, the anniversary of Vijay Diwasby then Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh. After fitting out and extensive sea trials, on 23 February 2016, she was confirmed as ready for operations, and was commissioned in August 2016.


  • INS Arihant is to be the first of the expected five in the class of submarines designed and constructed as a part of the Indian Navy’s secretive Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project. The Arihant-class submarines are reported to be based on the Akula-classsubmarine.
  • Their crew will have the opportunity to train on INS Chakra, an Akula-class submarine, which the Indian Navy leased from Russia.
  • The vessel will be powered by an 83 megawatts (111,305 hp) pressurised light-water reactor  with enriched uranium[A land-based prototype of the reactor was first built at Kalpakkam and made operational.


  • There is the issue of missile ranges. From a submarine patrol area in mid-Bay of Bengal, Islamabad is 2,500 km, while Beijing and Shanghai are over 4,000 km.
  • Even from the northern-most edge of the Bay of Bengal, Kunming is 1,600 km and Chengdu 2,000 km. Therefore, to target cities and nuclear forces deep inside China or Pakistan, from a “safe haven”, India needs a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) of 6,000-8,000-km range.
  • The missile, reportedly, carried by the Arihant is the K-15, whose range falls below 1,000 km. SLBMs of longer range are, possibly the way, but they will equip Arihant’s successors.
  • Second, India has, so far, followed an unorthodox system, in which the National Command Authority (NCA) manages the nuclear deterrent through a “troika” consisting of the Strategic Forces Command (SFC), the Department of Atomic Energy and DRDO.
  • While scientists are the custodians of nuclear warheads and help mate them with the SFC’s missiles and IAF fighter-bombers, the MoD and Raksha Mantri remain out of the loop.
  • Since Arihant and her sisters will carry “cannisterised” missiles, with pre-mated warheads, scientists have been eliminated from the chain, with custody and control of weapons devolving on the submarine’s captain.
  • No doubt, “fail-safe” electronic permissive action links (PAL) have been installed to ensure instant compliance with an authorised “launch” command from the NCA, while preventing accidental launch, structural and doctrinal changes are urgently required too.
  • Which brings us to the third area of concern — an effective command and control structure to cater for this new capability.
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