India launched its third Arihant-class submersible ballistic nuclear (SSBN) submarine in November, multiple news outlets reported, citing Janes Defence Weekly.
The outlet cited satellite imagery revealing that the country launched the nuclear-powered submarine called S4 on November 23 at the Ship Building Centre in Visakhapatnam. India has not officially announced the launch, though The Hindu confirmed it, citing sources in the ministry of defense and the shipbuilding center.
The reported launch comes as the second Arihant submarine, Arighat, awaits commissioning after completing sea trials. The Indian Navy is expected to launch the vessel in August.
The lead vessel of the class, Arihant, was commissioned in 2016. The navy plans to commission the fourth Arihant sub in 2025, with the option to build two more.
The Wire wrote that the Arighat is “slightly larger” than the lead vessel, which has a displacement of 6,000 tons, accommodating an expanded vertical launch system with twice the launch tubes of the Arihant at eight.
The outlet added that the vessel can carry “eight K-4 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), or alternately 24 K-15 SLBMs with respective strike ranges of 3,500 km (2,175 miles) and 750 km (466 miles).”
The Arihant forms the sea arm of India’s three-tier credible nuclear deterrent (land, air, sea), which include land-launched intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear warhead carrying aircraft being built under the $12 billion Advanced Technology Vessel project.
Nuclear Attack Subs
India is also working on nuclear-powered attack submarines, fielding the first of three 6,000-ton vessels by 2032. Work on the vessel, which travels faster and is more agile than an SSBN, is expected to commence in 2023-24.
The Indian Navy currently has 16 diesel-electric submarines, one nuclear-powered general-purpose attack submarine, leased from Russia, and one ballistic missile submarine.