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Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM)

Context:

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that the indigenous ballistic missile nuclear submarine INS Arihant had successfully launched a nuclear capable Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) in the Bay of Bengal with “very high accuracy”.

Relevance:

GS III: Defence

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About INS Arihant
  2. About Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile
  3. Strategic Significance

About INS Arihant

  • It was launched in 2009 and Commissioned in 2016, INS Arihant is India’s first indigenous nuclear powered ballistic missile capable submarine built under the secretive Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project, which was initiated in the 1990s.
  • INS Arihant and its class of submarines are classified as ‘SSBN’, which is the hull classification symbol for nuclear powered ballistic missile carrying submarines.
  • While the Navy operates the vessel, the operations of the SLBMs from the SSBN are under the purview of India’s Strategic Forces Command, which is part of India’s Nuclear Command Authority.
  • In November 2019, after INS Arihant completed its first deterrence patrol, the government announced the establishment of India’s “survivable nuclear triad” — the capability of launching nuclear strikes from land, air and sea platforms.
    • The second submarine in the Arihant class, SSBN Arighat, is reported to have been launched in 2017, and said to be undergoing sea trials at present.

About Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile

  • The Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs), sometimes called the ‘K’ family of missiles, have been indigenously developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
    • The family is codenamed after Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the centre figure in India’s missile and space programmes who also served as the 11th President of India.
  • Because these missiles are to be launched from submarines, they are lighter, more compact and stealthier than their land-based counterparts, the Agni series of missiles which are medium and intercontinental range nuclear capable ballistic assets.
  • The development of the K family missiles has been done in consonance with the ATV project.
  • Part of the K family is the SLBM K-15, which is also called B-05 or Sagarika. It has a range of 750 km.
    • INS Arihant can carry a dozen K-15 missiles on board. India has also developed and successfully tested K-4 missiles from the family, which have a range of 3,500 km.

Strategic significance

  • The capability of being able to launch nuclear weapons submarine platforms has great strategic significance in the context of achieving a nuclear triad, especially in the light of the “No First Use” policy of India.
  • The sea-based underwater nuclear capable assets significantly increases the second strike capability, and thus validates the nuclear deterrence.
  • These submarines can not only survive a first strike by the adversary, but can also launch a strike in retaliation, thus achieving ‘Credible Nuclear Deterrence’.
  • The development of these capabilities is important in the light of India’s relations with China and Pakistan. With China having deployed many of its submarines, including some that are nuclear powered and nuclear capable, India’s capacity building on the nuclear powered submarines and of the nuclear capable missile which can be launched from them, is crucial for nuclear deterrence.

-Source: Indian Express


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December 2022
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