Several Indian media reports suggested that the Indian government is about to place orders for procurement of 6 nuclear submarines for the Indian Navy. In today’s Guarding India exclusive we will cover all details about this new nuclear submarine building program of the Indian Navy.
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Nuclear submarines run on the power generated by the miniature nuclear reactor fitted inside them. Therefore, these submarines do not require refueling and can travel anywhere on the earth. Nuclear Submarine is classified into two main types. The first type is those nuclear submarines that carry long-range submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) which are armed with nuclear warheads.
In naval language, these types of nuclear submarines are called SSBN and they safeguard the nuclear weapons of any country while maintaining the capability to launch a massive retaliatory nuclear attack on the enemy if the need arises. Now you can see a Russian submarine simultaneously launching multiple SLBMs. Presently, the Indian Navy’s Arihant class submarines INS Arihant and INS Arighat are SSBN type submarines that are fitted with K-15 SLBMs and are always ready to launch a nuclear attack on Pakistan and China.
The second type of nuclear submarines are called SSN in naval language and they are not armed with any type of nuclear weapons. However, these submarines are tasked with finding other ships and submarines and destroy them. Therefore, such submarines are called hunter-killer submarines as just like a predator they hunt and kill other ships and submarines. Presently, the Indian Navy has only one SSN submarine which is called INS Chakra. India has leased the INS Chakra submarine from Russia. INS Chakra is an Akula class submarine that was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 2012.
The leased INS Chakra is the most capable submarine of the Indian Navy as it can reach a depth of approx 500 meters while other submarines of the Indian Navy like the new Kalvari class and kilo class can dive only till 300 meters. From the depth of 500 meters, the Indian Navy’s INS Chakra submarine can track any Chinese or Pakistani submarine while enemy ships can not see INS Chakra lurking at 500 meters in depth.
How much the Indian Navy believes in the capability of INS Chakra can be understood by the fact that after February 2019 Balakot strike when Pakistan Navy dispatched its submarine, PNS Saad, near Indian Coast then Indian Navy deployed INS Chakra to eliminate Pakistani submarine. Subsequently, fearing INS Chakra, Pakistan Navy submarine could not venture near the Indian coastline.
By this example, one can understand how powerful is a hunter-killer or SSN submarine can be. Therefore, in order to control increasing Chinese Naval activities in the Indian Ocean, the Indian Navy has requested the government to purchase six nuclear attack submarines. This new submarine building program of the Indian Navy is being called Project 75 ALPHA. These submarines will be ‘Made in India’ nuclear-attack submarines and they will be built at the Indian Navy’s top-secret “Navy Shipbuilding Centre” located at Visakhapatnam.
The weight of these submarines will be approx 6,000 tons and they will be able to operate at greater depths than India’s Arihant class submarines. Indian public sector company Mishra Dhatu Nigam is developing a new alloy for these submarines. Due to the use of this new alloy, Project 75 ALPHA class nuclear attack submarines will be able to travel at great depths. It is estimated that these submarines will be more advanced than INS Chakra or any Chinese submarines and they will be built using advanced stealth and silencing technologies.
These advanced submarines of the Indian Navy will be very costly and a single submarine will cost around 15,000 crore rupees. The total development cost of all six Project 75 ALPHA submarines will be around 1.2 lakh crore which does not include several important products and services. This project is so much important for the Indian Navy that the Indian Navy has informed the government that it requires these six nuclear attack submarines more than its third aircraft carrier. Subsequently, the Indian government is about to approve the construction of the first three nuclear attack submarines while the other three submarines will be sanctioned at a later stage which will be far more advanced than the first three submarines.
Finally, on behalf of Team Guarding India, I would like to say that the Indian Navy’s decision to develop these 6 hunter-killer nuclear submarines under Project 75 ALPHA is a very good decision as currently, the Chinese Navy has 12 nuclear attack submarines of Shang class and Han class while Indian Navy has only one nuclear attack submarine INS Chakra. Therefore, if the Indian Navy wants to maintain its power in the Indian Ocean then India will need these six nuclear attack submarines at the earliest.