New Delhi: India achieved a remarkable feat of completing a 'nuclear-triad' after the reactor of its first nuclear submarine INS Arihant went critical.
INS Arihant is India's first indigenously-developed nuclear-powered submarine. India joined the likes of US, UK, France, Russia and China after the 'vessel went critical'.
China's vessel is under the process of developing its own nuclear-powered submarine. But it has yet to conduct deterrent patrol.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulates
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated scientists and defence personnel on the reactor on India's first nuclear submarine INS Arihant going critical, calling it a "giant stride" in the progress of the country's indigenous technological capabilities.
"I am delighted to learn that the nuclear propulsion reactor on board INS Arihant, India's first indigenous nuclear powered submarine, has now achieved criticality," the Prime Minister said in a statement.
"Today's development represents a giant stride in the progress of our indigenous technological capabilities. It is testimony to the ability of our scientists, technologists and defence personnel to work together for mastering complex technologies in the service of our nation's security," he said.
Extending congratulations to all those associated with the important milestone, particularly the Department of Atomic Energy, the Indian Navy and the Defence Research and Development Organization, Singh said he looked forward to the early commissioning of INS Arihant.
A nuclear-powered submarine, capable of firing nuclear weapons is the third leg of the 'Nuclear-triad' of land, air and sea launched nuclear weapons envisaged by India's nuclear doctrine of 1998. The submarine is expected to be ready by the year 2014.
The next step would be the sea trials of the 6,000-tonne Arihant.
INS Arihant will be 'underway on nuclear power' under the command of Captain Sanjay Mahendru.
The sea trials are expected to begin as soon as the monsoon season subsides.
To watch the animated video of the INS Arihant, click here.
How does a nuclear submarine works?
Heat to produce steam that propels the submarine is generated by a miniature nuclear reactor built inside the submarine.
The energy is also used to generate electricity for running various systems onboard the submarine.
It is near-identical to a steam-powered turbine plant, except it uses nuclear energy.
The nuclear reactor provides submarine with capability to remain underwater for longer duration of time, in contrast to diesel or battery run conventional submarines. The present vessel can stay underwater for 2 months, at a stretch.
To watch video of K-15 Missile test firing, click here.
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has readied a medium-range nuclear missile BO-5 for deployment on Arihant.
It can armed with 12 K-15 Sagarika submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), with range of 7000 kms, or, f K-4 SLBMs, with range of 3,500km.
The K-series missiles are very much similar to Agni missiles and are also known as the underwater variants of the missile.
The K-4 missile is still under development and there are talks of development of K-5 weapon, with range of 3,000 km.
What is the advantage of having underwater submarine?
The vessel is capable of lying underwater undetected for months and it can survive a 'first-strike' and hit back with massive second nuclear strike.
INS Arihant is said to be built at an estimated cost of Rs. 15,000 crore (USD 2.5 billion).
The 110-meter-long submarine is capable of travelling at twenty four knots underwater.
It is powered by an 80-mw pressurized water reactor that uses uranium as fuel and light water as a coolant and moderator.
At present, India has 14 vessels powered by diesel-battery setup. All these vessels are outdated and aging and they would be completing a life-span of 25 years by 2017.
According to plans, three vessels will be developed. One for each coast, the western and the eastern, and the third would be on stand-by in case the two breaks down.
The quest to develop an indigenous nuclear-powered submarine began in 1970s, under the leadership of Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
The Classified project was codenamed, Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV). The project was kept under wraps for three decades, before it was made public by India's Atomic Energy Commission, PK Iyenger, in 2007.
Arihant is a name derived fro Sanskrit language and it means destroyer of enemies.
In the picture, Smt. Gursharan Kaur, wife of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh breaking the auspicious coconut on the hull of the 6,000 tonne submarine, INS Arihant marking its launch, at Visakhapatnam on July 26, 2009.
Image courtesy: Press Information Bureau
Class & type: Arihant-class submarine
Length: 111 m (364 ft)
Beam: 15 m (49 ft)
Draft: 11 m (36 ft)
Propulsion: PWR using 40% enriched uranium fuel (80 MWe ); one turbine (47,000 hp/70 MW); one shaft; one 7-bladed, high-skew propeller (estimated)
Range: unlimited except by food supplies
Test depth: 300 m (980 ft) (estimated)
Complement: 95–100 officers and men
processing systems: BEL USHUS
Armament: 6 x 533mm torpedoes
12 x Sagarika (missile) SLBM
4 x K-4