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India’s First Nuclear-Armed Submarine Nearly Operational

A drawing of the Arihant nuclear-armed submarine. India intends to have four of them by 2020. (Image: Wikipedia Commons)
A drawing of the Arihant nuclear-armed submarine. India intends to have four of them by 2020. (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

India’s first nuclear-armed submarine — the Arihant (Sanskrit for “killer of enemies”) — is about to become operational.

After three decades of development, the 110-meter long Arihant is currently going through final trials in the Bay of Bengal, says Bloomberg citing an unnamed source.

India now joins five other nations — the U.S., U.K., Russia, France, and China — who have submarines armed with nuclear weapons.

Modeled on the Russian Akula-class vessels, the Arihant can be equipped with 12 short range K-15 missiles or four K-4 ballistic missiles.

Watch this news report on the Arihant by The Times of India:

By having a nuclear-armed submarine, allows the Indians to send its nuclear weapons from land, sea, and air. The Indians aim to have four such submarines in service by 2020. Nuclear weapons on a submarine are harder to detect than those on land or in the air.

But India’s submarines — like China’s — are noisy, and so are easy to detect says a report by the Lowy Institute for International Policy.

Nevertheless, the move trumps India’s arch rival Pakistan who also possesses nuclear weapons. However, the Arihant is see by most analysts as a deterrent against China.

There are concerns that Beijing may react by providing Pakistan and North Korea with similar technology. Last year, Pakistan agreed to purchase eight Chinese conventional submarines, reports Bloomberg.

This also comes at a time of rising tensions in the region especially in the South China Sea.

India first tested a nuclear weapon in 1974, and it now has an “arsenal of 90–110 nuclear weapons,” says the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. India’s neighbor Pakistan has 120. India’s drive to have a nuclear weapon was initiated after it lost territory in the Himalaya Mountains to China in a month long war during 1962.

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