India has launched its third Arihant-class a nuclear powered Submarine in Visakhapatnam. The low-key launch was reported by UK-based Janes Defence Weekly through satellite imagery from the Vishakhapatnam Ship Building Center.
The first SSBN INS Arihant was commissioned in 2016, while the second, though initially launched in 2014, is awaiting commissioning into the Indian Navy.
The Arihant class of Submarines is being built with help from Russia. According to the Janes Defence Weekly, the new boat, referred to as the S4, is slightly bigger than INS Arihant and can carry at least 8 K-4 ballistic missiles.
The magazine’s December 29 report states that the S4 submersible ballistic nuclear submarine (SSBN) was launched on November 23 and had been ‘relocated’ to near the ‘fitting-out wharf’ that was currently occupied by INS Arighat, the second such nuclear-armed missile submarine. Arighat was launched in November 2014 and is currently awaiting commissioning, which has reportedly been delayed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to Janes. As a result, the launch of the S4 SSBN was not reported in the Indian press, the report said.
The British publication said the satellite imagery confirmed that the S4 SSBN, at 7,000 tonnes, was’slightly larger,’ with a load water line measurement of 125.4m compared to 111.6m for the 6,000-tonne INS Arihant, the lead boat in this class. The S4 – and subsequent boats – were labelled as ‘Arihant-stretch’ variants.
According to the magazine, the additional length of the newly launched boats ‘accommodates expansion of the submarine’s vertical launch system, which has doubled to support eight (missile) launch tubes.’ This, it said, would allow the SSBN to carry eight K-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) missiles or 24 K-15 SLBMs with strike ranges of 3,500 km and 750 km, respectively.