India’s first indigenously-built, nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, INS Arihant, is set to begin sea trials shortly India’s The Tribune reported on Sunday, citing unnamed Indian officials.
“The nuclear reactor that will power the submarine can be formally declared ‘critical’ anytime now, while the nuclear-tipped missiles to be launched from underwater are in place,” an unnamed source was quoted as saying.
The sea trials are set to begin in mid-August with the wait being attributed to the rough waters caused by India’s yearly monsoon, which begins to weaken in mid-August according to the source. Once it sets sail the submarine will undergo extensive testing underwater including test launching submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
Once the INS Arihant is ready to conduct deterrent patrols, perhaps as early as the end of this year, India will have at least a nascent nuclear triad—the ability to launch nuclear weapons by land, air or sea.
India is only the sixth country to acquire a sea-based nuclear leg, with the others being the U.S., the UK, France, Russia and China, albeit—as noted last week—Beijing’s ballistic missile submarines are not believed to have conducted deterrent patrols.
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