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The Indian sea-based deterrent force is prioritizing the development of its ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) to reinforce its nuclear triad. With two Arihant-class submarines already operational and two stretched S4 and S4* (Star) submarines nearing completion, the focus has now shifted to the larger S5-class submarines that are currently in the advanced stages of development. The goal is to strengthen India’s nuclear capabilities and maintain a robust sea-based deterrent force.

India’s top priority remains the S5 program, which aims to develop a 13,000-ton displacement SSBN. While construction on the stretched S4 and S4* submarines nears completion, funding and efforts are being directed towards the ongoing S5 program so that the first submarine is introduced by 2031-32.

According to sources familiar with the matter, IDRW has learned that the Indian Navy intends to support the development of P75I and P76 by investing procurement of six next-generation conventional submarines, followed by 12 locally designed conventional submarines. These initiatives have taken priority over the development of indigenous nuclear-powered attack submarines.

Although the P75I program has been delayed, the Indian Navy remains interested in procuring essential components for its submarine program from foreign suppliers as the Navy intends to acquire these vital components before commencing construction of the submarines under the P76 program. The P76 program entails the purchase of 12 diesel-electric submarines with AIP technology, and the preliminary design stage is expected to be completed by 2025.

Plans to acquire three indigenous nuclear-powered attack submarines locally might be now further pushed to around 2035 as work on initial design is likely to complete only by 2026-27 with construction taking around 7-8 years before the first submarine is ready for sea trials around 2035.

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