From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : SLBM, INS Arihant
Mains level : India's nuclear triad
The indigenous ballistic missile nuclear submarine INS Arihant has successfully launched a nuclear capable Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) in the Bay of Bengal with very high accuracy.
About INS Arihant
- Launched in 2009 and Commissioned in 2016, INS Arihant is India’s first indigenous nuclear powered ballistic missile.
- It is capable submarine built under the secretive Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project, which was initiated in the 1990s.
- INS Arihant and its class of submarines are classified as ‘SSBN’, which is the hull classification symbol for nuclear powered ballistic missile carrying submarines.
- While the Navy operates the vessel, the operations of the SLBMs from the SSBN are under the purview of India’s Strategic Forces Command, which is part of India’s Nuclear Command Authority.
Its role in India’s nuclear triad
- In November 2019, after INS Arihant completed its first deterrence patrol, the government announced the establishment of India’s “survivable nuclear triad”.
- It completed India’s capability of launching nuclear strikes from land, air and sea platforms.
- This places India in the league of the few countries that can design, construct and operate Strategic Strike Nuclear Submarines (SSBN).
Significance of the test
- The SLBM was launched from the country’s first indigenous Strategic Strike Nuclear Submarine INS Arihant.
- The test is significant for the nuclear ballistic submarine, or SSBN, programme, which is a crucial element of India’s nuclear deterrence capability.
Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs)
- The SLBMs, sometimes called the ‘K’ family of missiles, have been indigenously developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- The family is codenamed after Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the centre figure in India’s missile and space programmes who also served as the 11th President of India.
- Because these missiles are to be launched from submarines, they are lighter, more compact and stealthier than their land-based counterparts.
- They are lighter compared to the Agni series of missiles which are medium and intercontinental-range nuclear-capable ballistic assets.
Marine Version of SLBM: Sagarika
- Part of the K family is the SLBM K-15, which is also called B-05 or Sagarika.
- It has a range of 750 km.
- INS Arihant can carry a dozen K-15 missiles on board. India has also developed and successfully tested K-4 missiles from the family, which have a range of 3,500 km.
- It is also reported that more members of K-family — reportedly carrying the code names K-5 and K-6, with a range of 5,000 km and 6,000 km respectively — are under development.
Strategic significance of the launch
- The capability of being able to launch nuclear weapons submarine platforms has great strategic significance in the context of achieving a nuclear triad.
- This is especially in the light of the “No First Use” policy of India.
- The sea-based underwater nuclear capable assets significantly increases the second strike capability, and thus validates the nuclear deterrence.
- These submarines can not only survive a first strike by the adversary, but can also launch a strike in retaliation, thus achieving ‘Credible Nuclear Deterrence’.
Message to our hostile neighbours
- The development of these capabilities is important in the light of India’s relations with China and Pakistan.
- India’s capacity building on the nuclear powered submarines and of the nuclear capable missile which can be launched from them is crucial for nuclear deterrence.
- China has deployed many of its submarines, including some that are nuclear-powered and nuclear-capable.
- In an era such as this, credible nuclear deterrence is the need of the hour.
- The success of INS Arihant gives a fitting response to those who indulge in nuclear blackmail.