INS Arihant now operational: Submarine sanctioned by Indira Gandhi in late 1970s completes nuclear triad

Indian nuclear submarine INS Arihant has successfully completed its first deterrence patrol, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday while stressing that the underwater war boat is a "fitting response" to those who indulge in "nuclear blackmail".

The prime minister was effusive in his praise on Twitter for the war boat saying, "Dhanteras gets even more special!"

What makes INS Arihant so 'special'?

The Union government has reason for celebrating the achievement. The previous year had brought unpleasant news for the defence sector in this regard, when reports surfaced that Arihant's propulsion compartment suffered damage after water entered the area over ten months ago, possibly because of human error. Following the accident, the submarine underwent repairs and did not sail for months. Now that it has completed its first deterrence patrol, it can be referred to as a fully functional underwater ballistic missile delivery platform, as NDTV reports.

INS Arihant is capable of carrying nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, the class referred to as Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear (SSBN). These are designed to cruise the waters carrying nuclear weapons and provides a nation with an assured second strike capability. This means that with the war boat, a country can retaliate after taking a nuclear hit.

India now joins the elite squad of countries like Russia, China, France that possess nuclear-powered submarines.

Narendra Modi said that the INS Arihant said that India's nuclear triad will be an important pillar of global peace. Twitter/@narendramodi

Narendra Modi said that the INS Arihant said that India's nuclear triad will be an important pillar of global peace. Twitter/@narendramodi

'Nuclear triad'

With the success of INS Arihant, Modi has announced that India has completed the 'nuclear triad.' To put it simply, a nuclear triad gives a country the ability to launch nukes from land, air and sea. This is important, because if a country initiates a nuclear attack, it cannot destroy all three components of the triad at once, and thus, the component which is intact can launch a retaliatory strike.

Mirage 2000 jets and Agni ballistic missiles are India's air and land components of the nuclear triad respectively.


The 6,000-tonne Arihant was built under the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project at the Ship Building Centre at Visakhapatnam. Launched on 26 July, 2009 by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the submarine was commissioned in August 2016 after a series of extensive sea trials.

In the late 1970s, the then prime minister Indira Gandhi sanctioned the submarine using secret funds after the country's first nuclear test in 1974, as per an article in The Indian Express. Work on the submarine began in 1998, and its complete construction took nearly 11 years.


India has two nuclear-armed countries (China and Pakistan) on both its eastern and western fronts which makes it particularly imperative for the country to possess adequate deterrence. The absence of INS Arihant came to attention during the Doka La standoff with China, when Beijing had flexed muscle in the Indian Ocean. China's navy had at that time held a rare live-fire drill in the Indian Ocean to improve its fleet's performance under real combat circumstances. The exercise had followed the Malabar Naval exercises held in the Indian Ocean by the navies of India, the US and Japan.

The Indian Ocean Region, crucial for India's strategic interests, has in general been witnessing an increasing presence of Chinese ships and submarines.

In March, Pakistan had conducted a test of its nuclear-capable, submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM), Babur, which also said to have been aimed at providing a 'second strike capability', according to a report in Hindustan Times. This may be seen as a step forward for it to complete the nuclear triad. At that time, Pakistan had blamed India, albeit without naming it, for disturbing the strategic balance in the region by acquiring nuclear submarines and nuclear-capable missiles.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Nov 05, 2018 23:21:00 IST

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