India Announces Test Firing of Submarine-launched Nuclear-capable Ballistic Missile

User Training Launch from INS Arihant by the Strategic Forces Command demonstrates the credibility of India’s Nuclear Triad

Photo Credit : Government of India,

INS Arihant: Submarine-based ballistic missile firing capability is a key element of India’s Nuclear deterrence

India on October 14 announced the successful test-firing of a Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) from its nuclear deterrence submarine, INS Arihant SSBN in the Bay of Bengal. It was described as a user training launch. An SSBN is a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed submarine. 

“INS Arihant carried out a successful launch of a Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) on October 14, 2022. The missile was tested to a predetermined range and impacted the target area in the Bay of Bengal with very high accuracy. All operational and technological parameters of the weapon system have been validated,” the Ministry of Defence declared in a statement. 

The statement did not mention details of the missile or the range over which it was tested. The K-15 SLBM is widely reported to have been inducted as an operational weapon on board the INS Arihant. No statement has been made about the induction of the K-4, which has a reported range of 3,500 km. The K series of SLBMs have been initialled after India’s best known missile man, the former President APJ Abdul Kalam.

The INS Arihant operates under India’s Strategic Forces Command, which is the custodian of India’s nuclear weapons. 

“The successful user training launch of the SLBM by INS Arihant is significant to prove crew competency and validate the SSBN programme, a key element of India’s nuclear deterrence capability. A robust, survivable and assured retaliatory capability is in keeping with India’s policy to have ‘Credible Minimum Deterrence‘ that underpins its ‘No First Use’ commitment,” the Ministry of Defence statement added. 

The SLBM represents the most assured second strike capability which is aimed at deterring a nuclear attack by an adversary. The  undersea leg of the nuclear triad is widely considered the most reliable and survivable instrument of retaliation. 

The successful user traiming launch represents the growing maturity of India’s nuclear weapons and the credibility of its posture of No First Use. 

India’s undersea nuclear weapons capability is still very minimalistic. It is based on a sole operational SSBN, the INS Arihant. A second SSBN, the Arighat is reported to be very close to induction. A third nuclear missile boomer is under construction. 

The Agni series of ballistic missiles are the principal vectors for the land leg of India’s triad. Reports in the public domain have indicated that some frontline fighters of the Indian Air Force have been modified to fire nuclear weapons from the air. 


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