Vishakapatnam: India on Sunday reached a milestone when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur launched the country`s first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine `INS Arihant` for sea trials.
Kaur broke a coconut and performed a puja after which she
unveiled a plaque naming the 112-metre-long submarine. "I name
it INS Arihant. All the best to the submarine," she said.
Declaring that India has achieved a "historic milestone
in the country`s defence preparedness" with the launch of the
submarine, the Prime Minister said, "We don`t have any
aggressive designs nor do we seek to threaten anyone.”
"We seek an external environment in our region and
beyond that is conducive to our peaceful development and
protection of our value systems," Singh said in his speech
congratulating everyone associated with the advanced
technology vessel (N-submarine) programme.
Singh said, "Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon us to
take all measures necessary to safeguard our country and to
keep pace with technological advancements worldwide.”
With the sea trials, India has announced to the world
that it possesses underwater platforms capable of launching
nuclear weapons, completing its nuclear triad (land, air and
sea) capability and strengthening its strategic deterrence.
It also made its entry into an elite club of nations
comprising the US, Russia, France, the UK and China which
possess capabilities to develop nuclear submarine.
Code-named Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV), the
submarine christened `INS Arihant` (destroyer of enemy) was
launched for sea trials at the Matsya naval dockyard here.
As India has declared "no first use" of nuclear
weapons, the country`s weapons system must survive a first
strike for retaliation. Therefore, Arihant`s primary weapon is
stealth as it can lurk in ocean depths of half a kilometre or
more and fire its missiles from under the sea.
The 6000-tonne submarine is powered by an 85 megawatt
capacity nuclear reactor and can acquire surface speeds of 22
to 28 kmph (12-15 knots) and submerged speed upto 44 kmph (24
knots). It will be carrying a crew of 95 men and will be armed
with torpedoes and missiles including 12 ballistic missiles.
Four more nuclear-powered submarine of this class have
already got government`s nod and these would add to the Navy`s
underwater combat potential in the years to come.
Defence Minister AK Antony, Navy Chief Admiral
Sureesh Mehta and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS
Rajasekhara Reddy witnessed the event.
The Prime Minister flew to Vishakapatnam this morning
by the IAF`s newly acquired Boeing business jet and reached
the venue of the submarine launch by road.
Sea trials of the submarine will be conducted in the
Bay of Bengal off Vishakapatnam, where the vessel was under
construction for the last two decades.
The Rs 30,000-crore secret nuclear submarine project
was started in the 1980s though it was conceived by then Prime
Minister Indira Gandhi in the 1970s.
The first official admission of the project nearing
completion came this February when Antony had announced it
during the AeroIndia show in Bangalore.
INS Arihant can also be armed with cruise missiles.
The DRDO is already working on an equally secretive
Sagarika project for a 700-km K-15 missile, capable of
carrying nuclear weapons.
With US, Russia and China already fielding 5,000-km
range SLBMs, the DRDO too has recently tested an SLBM based on
the design of 3,500-km range Agni-III.
The induction of ATV will help India to complete the
nuclear weapons triad, as envisaged under its nuclear doctrine
to deliver nuke-tipped missiles from land, air and sea.
India has land-based nuclear-capable Agni ballistic
missiles, apart from IAF fighters such as Mirage-2000 that can
deliver tactical nukes.
Two decades ago, India had operated a Charlie-class
nuclear submarine, christened INS Chakra, leased from Russia
for three years between 1989 and 1991.
Moscow will again lease out two Akula-class nuclear
submarines to New Delhi for 10 years. Plans to deliver the
submarines this June were hit by a mishap during sea trials
late last year. But hopes have soared for its delivery in 2010
after Russia took out the repaired vessel for sea trials again
early this month.