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India’s naval prowess continues to evolve as it inches closer to testing the second generation of its Arihant-class submarines. The S4, an eagerly anticipated addition to this class, is set to showcase enhanced capabilities with a 1000-tonne increase in displacement compared to its predecessor.

The S4, the third submarine in this class, achieved a significant milestone when it was quietly launched at Visakhapatnam in late November of the previous year. Satellite imagery has confirmed that the submarine is now out of the dry dock and positioned in the wet dock, marking a pivotal step toward its operational readiness.

The upcoming sea trials, expected to commence by late next year, will unfold in multiple phases, culminating in weapon trials that will determine the submarine’s readiness for operational deployment. This comprehensive testing regime, spanning approximately three years, ensures that the S4 will be fully equipped to handle the complexities of modern naval warfare.

Distinguishing itself from its predecessors, the S4 submarine is designed to accommodate enhanced firepower. Unlike the S2 and S3 submarines, which could carry either four K-4 or 12 K-15 SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles), the S4 is engineered to house eight K-4 or 24 K-15 SLBMs. This strategic augmentation positions the S4 as a formidable asset for India’s naval capabilities.

The S4* (Star), often referred to as the sister ship of the S4 due to their similar displacement, has also emerged from dry docks. However, this vessel is on a slightly different trajectory, with phase-I sea trials expected to commence within the next two years. As with the S4*, its trials will span several years to ensure operational readiness.

While the S4 and S4* are remarkable achievements in themselves, they also signal the progression towards the S5 class of SSBNs. This successor class, currently under design and development, promises to be a significant leap forward. With an anticipated displacement of around 13,000 tons, nearly twice that of the S4 class.

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