'Good news' soon on Arihant

By SP's Special Correspondent
Photo Credit: MoD

ArihantDecember 04, 2012: The Indian Navy will have 'good news' to share on Arihant soon, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral D.K. Joshi has said. Currently undergoing crucial trials, the Navy Chief indicated that India's first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine had completed a majority of its harbour acceptance trials (HATs) and would shortly enter a phase of sea trials, which he said were expected to last less than a year. Admiral Joshi's predecessor had said in 2010 and last year that the Arihant would begin a deterrent patrol in 2012, though that had always seemed optimistic. Navy sources said, "The Arihant trials are swimming along well and is performing as expected. The Navy Chief is right when he says that harbour acceptance work-up is almost complete and we will soon be in a position to gauge its performance out at sea conducting all maneouvers expected of a submarine of this size." It is understood that a second hull has already been fabricated.

When asked if the nuclear reactor that powered the Arihant would be modified and improved for the second SSBN, the Navy Chief indicated that the performance of the powerplant was being assessed along with the performance on the Navy's leased Akula-II class nuclear attack submarine INS Chakra leased from Russia, and that plans would be drawn up on the configuration of the second boat's power source. Speaking of India's depleting conventional attack submarine assets, Admiral Joshi said, "They are not junk or obsolete. They are highly capable, potent platforms, and also have a land-attack capability." Acknowledging that the delays in the Project 75 Scorpene build at Mazagon Dock had slowed plans, the Admiral said that things were finally on track, revealing that the Navy had asked MDL and its technology partners (DCNS and Navantia) to compress construction/delivery schedules as far as possible. Finally, the CNS said that the request for proposal (RFP) for the long-awaited follow-on Project 75 India submarine line—for six more conventional attack submarines—would be floated soon, given that all approvals had been accorded by the government.