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India announces nuke-missile carrying sub INS Arihant is operational 

New Delhi, November 5

In a major strategic development,  India on Monday announced successful completion of its nuclear triad capability by saying its nuclear submarine—the INS Arihant—had completed its first ever “deterrence patrol”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Office said SSBN (Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear) INS Arihant recently returned from its first deterrence patrol, completing the establishment of the country’s survivable nuclear triad. 

A “deterrent patrol” is meant to “deter” an adversary from launching a first nuclear-strike as Indian submarines loitering under sea can then launch the retaliatory strike within minutes. A nuclear powered submarine is needed for such patrols due to its ability to remain submerged and undetected for longer periods—several weeks in this case.

An SSBN runs on nuclear fuel and carries undersea-fired submarine launched nuclear missiles that can hit at targets thousands of kilometres away. Technology still does not effectively track or locate undersea vessels, more so in waters around India, which have high suspended particle or salt content. A submarine is capable of “pinning down” six-seven warships of the enemy just by installing the fear of the unknown. The ability of the submarine to remain submerged is what matters.

“Deterrent patrol” is a Cold War era (1945-1991) terminology and was the norm adopted by the US and the erstwhile USSR when their submarines trawled under sea for days. The two super-powers are known to have conducted more than 200 such patrols annually.

Stressing the significance of the successful deployment of INS Arihant for the completion of India’s nuclear triad, the Prime Minister Modi congratulated the crew and all involved in the achievement, which puts India among a handful of countries having the capability to design, construct and operate SSBNs. 

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