New Delhi: India`s indigenous nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant will be ready for deterrent patrols in two years from now, completing the nation`s capability to deliver strategic weapons from land, air and undersea.
Navy Chief Nirmal Verma said at his annual press conference here that the Arihant, which was a top secret
project till its launch at Visakhapatnam last year, will be ready for operational patrols by 2012 and the project itself was making good progress.
"We have a declared policy of no-first-use...but we have Arihant. It is there. We have a triad in place now, but we have to use it as effectively as possible. We will have Arihant going within two years and there is progress in the project, despite some hiccups," he said when asked to react to nuclear weapons that Pakistan is amassing in recent years.
The nuclear triad, he said, would be complete only when India has strategic nuclear missiles that could be launched from land, air and sea.
"You are absolutely right, it is a triad only when you have a strategic weapon on the platform. Yes, it (nuclear triad) is there. When it (Arihant) is commissioned and goes to sea it will be on deterrent patrol. The triad would be there when Arihant is commissioned," he said.
Explaining the hiccups in the project, he said there were some delays with regard to indigenous equipment that would be fitted on the submarine. "But I think we will be within time and commission the vessel by 2012," he added.
On strategic nuclear deterrence, he said India had taken "a whole lot of action" and that explained the construction of INS Arihant.
"We have Arihant, fortunately, one can talk of now. This option is there. We have the triad in place and the idea is to use it as effectively as possible," he added.
India had formally launched INS Arihant in July last year and it would be the first in the series of three nuclear- powered submarines that India is building indigenously with some help from the Russians.
It already possesses or is in the process of possessing a family of nuclear-tipped missiles including the Agni series, Prithvi variants, naval missile Dhanush, and submarine launched Sagarika.
Asked about media reports from Russia openly talking of India leasing its Akula-II `Nerpa` nuclear powered submarine for 10 years, Verma refused to say anything.
The reports have said that India was getting the Nerpa by March next year and would operate it for 10 years to train its naval personnel to work on the nuclear-powered submarine fleet
it is building starting with Arihant.
In the late 1980s, India had operated another Russian nuclear submarine by christening it as INS Chakra for about three years, again on lease.
Verma said the Scorpene submarine project, currently under construction at the Mumbai-based Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) to build six submarines, would be completed and the vessels
inducted into the fleet by 2015.
The government, he said, had also given approvals for six more conventional second line of submarines to be constructed partly with MDL and the Visakhapatnam-based Hindustan Shipyard
Limited (HSL) that Defence Ministry acquired from the Shipping Ministry last year.
"For the last 17 years, we did not construct an indigenous submarine and for the first time we took up Scorpene construction. That`s why we have had some delays in some equipments for the project. But with the second line of submarines, it will help us to reduce the gap (in the fleet)," he said.
The Navy currently operates 15 conventional submarines, but these are soon approaching their obsolescence stage. Of the existing fleet, 10 are Kilo class submarines, four HDW submarines and the last belongs to the Foxtrot class.
He said India hopes to begin construction of indigenous submarines and the idea of building the Scorpene and the second line of vessels was to develop that capability for future exploitation, as envisaged by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 1999.