With a burgeoning military-industrial complex all its own, the nation of India has undertaken a myriad of programs to help become more self-sufficient in fulfilling its defense requirements. This has been proven through programs like the Arihant-class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines now under construction for the Indian Navy. The lead ship of the class is INS Arihant (S-73) (the name meaning "Slayer of Enemies") in what is expected to become a class of four strong. Arihant was built at the Shipbuilding Centre of Visakhapatnam and launched on July 26th, 2009. It is currently undergoing requisite trials to which the vessel is expected to be formally commissioned sometime in late 2015. The heavy reliance on locally designed and developed systems and components will no doubt supply priceless knowledge to Indian engineers, builders, and submariners moving forward.
As a ballistic missile submarine, Arihant is outfitted with armament centered around Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs). She therefore supports up to 12 x K15 "Sagarika" SLBM missiles with up to 1,900 kilometer engagement ranges through a four-tube Vertical Launch System (VLS) found aft of the sail. The missiles can be launched with the submarine submerged which give the crew and boat a tactical advantage in an active warzone - particularly when seeking a first-strike initiative against the enemy. Additionally, Arihant sports a 6 x 21" (533mm) torpedo tube arrangement (all bow-facing) for engagement of enemy submarines or surface ships with an estimated 30 torpedo reloads. The torpedoes can also be substituted for naval mines and cruise missiles to suit particular mission requirements (or feature a mixed armament load out).
The use of a pressurized nuclear reactor (111,000 horsepower output) means that Arihant maintains essentially unlimited operational ranges - limited really only by onboard food stores and the like. Such reactors generally maintain an operational service life of up to 20 to 25 years depending on build and engineering quality. Maximum surfaced speeds have been clocked at up to 15 knots with submerged speeds a useful 24 knots. The hull has been tested down to a depth of 300 meters (about 980 feet). The nuclear reactor drives a single multi-bladed propeller and standard cruciform fin arrangement is seen at the boat's stern.
As finalized, Arihant has been given an overall length of 112 meters with a beam of 11 meters and a draught of 10 meters. Her displacement is listed at 6,600 tons when loaded. The standard array of sonars and radars seen in most any submarine currently active is fitted including a complete USHUS integrated sonar system designed and developed in India.
At present, only two of the expected four boats have been named - INS Arihant (undergoing trials, 2015) and INS Aridhaman (ready for launching, 2015). The two remaining unnamed boats are expected to be launched in 2016 and 2018 respectively though their commissioning dates have not yet been announced. All of the boats will make their homeport at Visakhapatnam, India.
Since the Indian Navy already maintains a collection of Soviet-era Akula-class submarines, the Arihant-class appears to have followed some of its design and therefore some active Akulas in Indian Navy service are said to be used in the training role for submariners eventually headed to INS Arihant.
August 2016 - INS Arihant was formally commissioned for service in the Indian Navy during August of 2016. it makes its homeport at Visakhapatnam. INS Aridhaman is set to be delivered sometime in 2018.
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