Indian SSBN Effort

Question: What happens to INS Arindham? ~ Prem Prakash

Starting with the S1 ATV Hull and the experience gained by manufacturing and operating the S2 INS Arihant, we have conquered a steep learning curve. Comparing our SSBN program to that of either how the programs began in USA or in Russia would not be correct for the simple reason because technology and objectives have evolved a lot. Recently we heard the news about INS Arihant completing its first patrol. Now terming INS Arihant as mini boomer is not correct. No one says the Type-092 of PRC as a mini boomer so why term INS Arihant as such. Its just that India planned INS Arhiant to be such subject to time , money and technology constraints.

S2 (INS Arihant) which is already in service along with its sister ship S2 (INS Arighat) which is to be go into service very soon, will help India achieve Continuous at Sea deterrence, meaning India will round the clock will have 1 SSBN with 12 K-15 SLBMs which can hit targets in Pakistan at more than 1500km. The range of 750km is for conventional warhead. For deterrence patrols, smaller nuclear warheads will be on the missiles, thus extending the range of missiles greatly.

Next S4 and S4* are the systems which will give us true deterrence as they will carry bigger K4 SLBMs, 8 of them which can hit deep inisde Pakistan while keeping a safe distance from any possible Pakistani surveillance system. This is where the Prem you might find your answer. Our SSBN program is shrouded in secrecy. Much of news available can neither be validated as 100% correct nor being as false. All we know is that INS Arindham was supposed to have more K4 carrying capacity than INS Arihant , so its was surely not S3 vessel as S3 will be similar to S2. And as S5 class has yet not entered into production, its likely to be hull S4.

We cannot claim that S4 is to be INS Arindham. But if there is to be an INS Arindham, it will likely be the S4. Talking about S4, much of its construction is likely to be completed. And we might see its first glimpse by late 2022. Meanwhile by the year end we expect the S3 to go on its first patrol. There will likely be some gap after the 4th hull S4* is rolled out by SBC and focus will shift on building the first 3 SSNs.

Hopefully we will see some news on the SSN program front soon and the pandemic doesn’t affect this program too much.


  • Ankit Kumar

    An independent analyst with engineering background. Besides covering military affairs, he is also interested in space, airlines, infrastructure, nuclear, energy and related issues.

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