India joins elite group with launch of the INS Arihant nuclear sub

July 27th, 2009 - 4:49 am ICT by John Le Fevre  

submarine The launch of India’s first nuclear powered submarine, the INS Arihant (Destroyer of Enemies) for sea-trials, puts the populous South Asian nation into an elite class of countries that have constructed their own nuclear powered submarines.

Built with the assistance of Russia at a cost of $US2.9 billion (Rs. 13,966 Crore), the 6000-tonne vessel was launched over the weekend from its construction pen at the Ship Building Centre in Vishakapatnam by Gursharan Kaur, wife of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

It has taken India almost two decades to develop the Arihant, a project first began under the prime ministership of Indira Gandhi, and one that the Indian government had denied until earlier this year.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Manmohan said it was a “historic milestone in the country’s defense preparedness”.

According to reports, the Arihant has been designed to carry 12 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and operate with a compliment of 100 crew.

While it will still be several years before the Arihant enters active service, India now joins the United States, Russia, France, UK, and China as the only countries in the world capable of designing and building nuclear-powered submarines.

Following the launch, Prime Minister Singh said, “we do not have any aggressive designs, nor do we seek to threaten anyone.”

India plans to build a fleet of five nuclear-powered submarines and it is estimated the country currently has between 50 and 100 nuclear warheads.

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