Is India developing any 5th generation submarines for Indian Navy?
In a rare, official comment on the Indian nuclear attack submarine project, The Government of India approved the construction of six new nuclear powered attack submarines (SSN) in February 2015. These will be designed by the Navy’s in-house Directorate of Naval Design and indigenously built in the Shipbuilding Center at Visakhapatnam.
While India has traditionally shied from commenting on its nuclear fleet – for years the existence of the Arihant nuclear missile submarine was denied despite a large Indo-Russian team working on the project – the Navy has said that it is confident of executing the order with a brand new design.
“The government has given approvals for six new SSNs ( nuclear attack submarines ) earlier this year. We have started work but still are at the pen to paper stage,” Vice Admiral P Murugesan , the Vice Chief of Naval staff said in response to a question by ET.
After nearly 40 years of Research and Development, India’s less talked about Nuclear submarine program finally seems to have hit expressway after it recently launched its Second Nuclear ballistic missile Submarine and have plans to launch 2 more improve Arihant Class Submarines in next 5 years which will further strengthen India’s Nuclear Triad.
Indian Naval chief recently also confirmed to Indian media that ground developmental work for developing Six Indigenous Nuclear Attack Submarine has already started and this one will have a quick turnaround time and will not take decades to become fruitful.
Local development of Nuclear Arihant and Conventional Kalvari Class submarine in India has created enough technical manpower and expertise in India that now India is planning to launch first of the lead class nuclear attack submarine in next Seven years.
After mastering technology to develop Nuclear ballistic missile Submarines, India keeping in mind Chinese aggressive moves in the Indian ocean and their ability to chuck out submarines at much faster rate has selected easiest and logical route of using Arihant-class submarine has a template to develop a new Nuclear attack class submarines.
One admiral points out that while the SSN will be Arihant’s size, designing and building it will be far more challenging as both platforms have different tasks. An SSBN like the Arihant is a stealth underwater bomber ready to launch nuclear-tipped missiles at an adversary. Its reactor needs to deliver steady speeds as it prowls undetected.
An SSN, on the other hand, is like a fighter jet. It needs a high-performance nuclear reactor which delivers tremendous speed with rapid acceleration and deceleration. It needs a reactor that can perform multiple tasks such as pursuing enemy warships and striking land targets. Opinion seems to be divided regarding the type of reactor that will power the SSN.
SSNs are as important as SSBNs as they can blockade important sea routes, denying the enemy access to important resources in an event of war, and shadow enemy ships.SSN submarine have to defend the Carrier Groups , have to stay deep in the water, to search both underwater and surface targets, chase enemy subs, launching attacks, and many other combat duties, India has the technology of constructing missile submarines, Arihant is an good example, of course Russians helped in several key issues to achieve victory in the ATV program.
SSN’s will feature smaller cruise missiles launch tubes in their hump which might be able to carry 6-7 Sub-sonic cruise missile per launch tube. To prepare submarine for conventional missions, Internally submarine will need to include extensive modifications to its mission planning, command, control, communications and prep areas.
The submarines will be powered by a miniature pressurized water reactor (PWR) being developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre which has already supplied a similar 83 MW miniature reactor for the Arihant-class submarine SSBNs.
Since Nuclear attack Submarine are required to bypass an enemy’s anti-access/area denial capability and deploy its subsonic cruise missiles towards high-value targets of the rivals, submarines will require a much higher degree of stealthiness then a Nuclear ballistic missile Submarines.
India Navy already has started working on the successor of Aridhaman Ballistic Missile Class.A follow-on class of 6 SSBNs codenamed S5, almost twice as big as the Arihant-class, was also approved for development. These will be able to carry up to 12 K5 intercontinental ballistic missiles with MIRV warheads.
Indian Navy is concentrating on the development of current ssbn of arihant class that will give Indian Navy at least 4 submarines & after its completion around 2022-23 and then indian navy will start developing S5 nuclear Submarine.If the program sticks to its schedules and doesn’t face any delays then tentatively the first lead submarine will be ready for launch by end of next decade. S5 will also require new reactor and BARC will upscale current 83MW Pressurized water reactor (PWR) from Arihant class to 190 MW to meet the power demands of the larger vessel.
Each S5 will have Average construction timeframe of 8 years and lead submarine S5 might take little longer time initially but India might start work on 2 Submarines at a time to reduce their developmental time.
India will be having a fleet of following numbers of Nuclear Submarines in near future :
1 SSBN’s of Arihant Class +3 SSBN’s of Aridhaman Class + 2 S5 SSBN’s apart from that 6 new SSN’s + INS Chakra and 1 more to be leased from Russia.
India is also in final talks with Russia to lease a new nuclear attack submarine with sources telling ET that the Navy is looking for a newly built, customised submarine under the Chakra 3 project. The only nuclear attack submarine of this kind being produced in Russia currently is the Yasen class, the least detectable submarine it has ever built.