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A recently surfaced image featuring the Indian ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant and the Russian Akula-class attack submarine INS Chakra II has sparked discussions online. This side-by-side comparison highlights the distinct design philosophies employed in these underwater giants.

The Akula boasts a unique double-hull design. This configuration consists of an inner pressure hull, which safeguards the crew and equipment, and a lighter outer hull. This approach offers greater flexibility in shaping the exterior, resulting in superior buoyancy compared to its Western counterparts. The prominent “bulb” atop the Akula’s rudder houses its towed sonar array when not in use. Additionally, Akula-class submarines possess hydrodynamic sensors for wake detection, strategically positioned on the leading edge of the sail, outer hull casing, and forward bottom of the hull.

The INS Arihant stands out for its compact design, earning it the nickname “pocket boomer.” With a displacement of 6,000 tons, it’s considerably smaller than the Akula’s 8,000 tons. This unique Indian submarine carries only four missile silos, making it significantly smaller than most ballistic missile submarines globally.

Interestingly, the Arihant’s design incorporates elements reminiscent of the Kilo-class submarine, of which India operates ten under the designation Sindhughosh Class. A close examination reveals striking similarities in the upper sonar dome and the overall design of the sail. The hull diameter also appears to match, suggesting that the forward hull and sail borrow heavily from the Kilo-class design. This is perhaps unsurprising considering India’s experience with these submarines.

Despite the shared elements, there are key differences. The torpedo tube placements on the Arihant are positioned lower compared to the Kilo Class, hinting at internal design variations and confirming it’s not a direct copy. The trailing edge of the sail on the Arihant houses intercept sonars stacked vertically, which might explain the contrasting sonar window shape.

This visual comparison between the INS Arihant and INS Chakra II offers a glimpse into the contrasting design approaches taken by different nations in crafting these underwater war machines. The Akula prioritizes maneuverability and sensor performance with its double-hull design, while the Arihant focuses on compactness and potentially lower operational costs with its “pocket boomer” approach. Both designs reflect the strategic priorities and technological advancements of their respective builders.