INS Arighat, India’s Second Nuclear Ballistic Missile Submarine had a quiet launch away from the media limelight but India has already started groundwork to develop its next successor with the development of next-generation Ballistic Missile Submarine internally codenamed S5.

Unlike S4 and S4 * which are just an extended version of Arihant class, S5 SSBN will be a new design and will be nearly double the size of S4 SSBN when it is ready in another decade time. S5 will have reported surface displacement of over 13500 tonnes which is about same as Triomphant class of ballistic missile submarines operated by the French Navy but still smaller then Ohio-class submarine operated by United States Navy.

According to recent media reports, India has started groundwork for the development of S5 lead ship and has started sourcing of tools and euipments required for the construction to start sometime in 2021-22 when Drydocks used for the construction of S4 and S4 * will be vacated after their launch in the 2020-22 timeframe.

If the program sticks to its schedules and doesn’t face any delays then tentatively the first lead submarine will be ready for launch by end of next decade. S5 will also require new reactor and BARC will upscale current 83MW Pressurized water reactor (PWR) from Arihant class to 190 MW to meet the power demands of the larger vessel.

K5 will be designed to carry new K6 SLBM with a range of over 6000km and in total and it will be able to carry an armament of 16 K6 SLBM plus conventional torpedoes along with New Indigenous anti-ship missiles in development.

Each S5 will have Average construction timeframe of 8 years and lead submarine S5 might take little longer time initially but India might start work on 2 Submarines at a time to reduce their developmental time. For India to maintain 365 days Sea based Nuclear triad in place and on patrol, India will require to develop a minimum of 4 S5 Class submarine which will ensure that at least 2 S5 class Submarines are on active patrol at any time of the year with Nuclear warheads, while other two submarines are in drydocks or at the port for training or for minor repairs .

S4 and S4 * armed with K-4 and K-5 SLBM will be India’s Second line of SSBN by the time all 4 or 6 S5 Class SSBN are operational
and Arihant and Arighat both will then become Operational training vessels to train future submariners to operate nuclear submarines.

Arihant and Arighat both have been cleared to operate only K-15 SBLM with a range of 1000 km and soon K-4 SLBM will become operational with a range of 3500km soon. As per experts once K4 becomes operational in both the submarines, both Arihant and Arighat would be deployed for active patrol with nuclear warheads in next two years in rotational bases.

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