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Recent satellite imagery has revealed the Indian Navy’s S4 nuclear submarine in its outer dry dock, with its shed open for the first time. This sighting offers valuable insights into the vessel’s capabilities and potential advancements over its predecessors.

The S4, the third Arihant-class SSBN (Sub Surface Ballistic Nuclear) submarine launched in November 2021, appears larger than the previous S2 and S3 vessels. Notably, the exposed launch tubes suggest the S4 might be equipped to carry twice the number of Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs) compared to its predecessors.

While the exact number of SLBMs the S4 can carry remains classified, analysts speculate it could be configured for either 24 K-15 missiles with a 1,000 km range or 8 K-4 missiles with a significantly extended range of 3,500 km. This potential increase in missile capacity could signify a strategic shift in India’s nuclear deterrence capabilities.

IMAGE CREDIT Ninjamonkey ??@Aryan_warlord

The satellite imagery also captured glimpses of the S4* (Star), a sister submarine of the S4 class. Both vessels are believed to be compatible with both K-15 and K-4 missiles, offering the Indian Navy flexibility in its underwater arsenal.

The S4 is currently undergoing construction and is expected to be completed around 2024. Following its completion, the submarine will likely undergo a series of sea trials and weapons tests before becoming fully operational.