July 28, 2009

INS Arihant and SLBM Sagarika (K-15), Shourya & Nirbhay

INS Arihant

Class and type: Arihant class submarine

Name: INS Arihant

Builder: Shipbuilding Centre (SBC), Vishakapatnam

Laid down: Unknown

Launched: 26 July, 2009

Commissioned: 2012 (planned)

Status: On trials General characteristics

Type: SSBN

Displacement: 6000 tons (Est.)

Length: 110m

Beam: 11m

Draft: 9m (29.5ft) (Est.) Propulsion: PWR using 40% enriched uranium fuel (80MW); one turbine (47,000hp/70MW); one shaft; one 7-bladed, high-skew propeller. (Est.)

Range: unlimited except by food supplies

Test depth: 300 m (984.2ft). (Est.)

Complement: 100 officers and men

Sensors andprocessing systems: BEL USHUS Armament: 6 x 533mm torpedoes, 12 x K-15 Sagarika SLBM

INS Arihant is India's lead ship of the Arihant class of nuclear-powered Fleet submarines. The 6000-tonne vessel was built under the top-secret ATV (advanced technology vessel) project at the Ship Building Centre in Vishakapatnam at a cost of USD 2.9 billion. It was formally launched on 26 July 2009 by Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh at the naval dockyard of the Eastern Naval Command (ENC) in Visakhapatnam by Gursharan Kaur, wife of the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, who broke a coconut and later dedicated it to the nation.Arihant (Sanskrit for 'destroyer of enemies') is the first nuclear-powered submarine to be built by India. When launched, it will make India only the sixth country in the world to have the capability to build Nuclear submarines indigenously. The launch of INS Arihant constitutes a big step towards India's endeavor to build a credible Nuclear triad — the capability to fire nukes from air, land and sea. There has been lot of confusion as to whether Arihant Class of submarines are SSN or SSGN or SSBN. Arihant Class is designed to carry Sagarika, which is an SLBM, a submarine launched ballisitic missile and not a cruise missile. Hence, that designates Arihant Class as SSBN without any doubt.The project to indigenously develop a nuclear-powered submarine was first conceived during Indira Gandhi's reign as Prime Minister in 1970,but really got going only in the mid-1980s. However, until early 2009 India officially denied the existence of such a project.

Sagarika / K-15 / Shourya / Nirbhay

While published reports are generally consistent about the characteristics and chronology of this system, there is general disagreement on one fundamental point, whether the missile is a ballistic missile or a cruise missile. The reported physical dimensions of the missile seem to support the reporting that it is a cruise missile. Sagarika appears to be the designation of the sea-based version of the missile which is designated Shourya when deployed on a land-based Transporter Erector Launcher. The K-15 launch sile is well attested, and appears to be intended for the Advanced Tehnology Vessel nuclear submarine. It is, however, far too large for the Sagarika missile.

It is reasonable to believe that this launcher would initially be employed with 3 Sagarika cruise missiles in each tube, which could subsequently be back-fitted with a single Agni-III ballistic missile.
Sagarika (Oceanic)

Started in the early 1990s, DRDO was reported to have developed a 300-km submarine-launched ballistic missile, Sagarika, based on the Prithvi. The program is reported to have started in 1992 and was originally reported to involve adapting a ramjet engine to the missile to reduce the need for heavy oxidizers. In 1994 the periodical Flight International reported that India's Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) had for the past two years been engaged in designing a ramjet-powered, submarine-launched missile dubbed the Sagarika. Other reports state that Sagarika was initially designed as a solid-fuelled version of the Prithvi. But the idea was shelved after the navy indicated its preference for a cruise missile. India did not have a submarine configured for launching ballistic missiles.

In October 2005 it was reported that India was developing the Sagarika, said to be a submarine-launched cruise missile with a range of about 300 km.

Something about the Sagarika inspires a cloak of secrecy. In 2005 defence minister Pranab Mukherjee confirmed the program: “This is a DRDO project but we would not like to make a premature advertisement.” Later, in Parliament, he denied the project even existed. As late as 2006 one observer suggested that the Sagarika was merely a figment of the Non-Proliferation community’s imagination

In April 2007 it was reported that the indigenously-built Sagarika cruise missile, with a range of nearly 1,000 km and a 500-kg warhead, had two variants capable of being launched from aircraft and submarines. Sagarika was said to be the primary armament for the long-delayed Advanced Technology Vessel indigenous nuclear submarine, and the IAF was said to be considering equipping the forthcoming Medium Transport Aircraft with the stand-off missile. And in June 2007 it was reported that DRDO was currently working on the Sagarika submarine launched cruise missile. The nuclear capable Sagarika was said to have the capability to carry a 500 kg warhead over a distance of 1,000 km. It is also planned to develop an air launched version of Sagarika.

In April 2007 India conducated a test of the Sagarika from a submersible pontoon launcher.
In July 2007 it was reported that India's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) had started work on three new types of missiles: a superior version of the Agni III, a hypersonic BrahMos and a naval missile known as Sagarika. The Sagarika would be a submarine launched, nuclear-armed, missile with a range of 1000 kilometers.
On 27 February 2008 India proved that it had the capability to launch missiles from underwater by successfully test-firing the Sagarika missile from a pontoon off the coast of Visakhapatnam. The pontoon simulated the conditions of a submarine. Shortly after noon, the missile's booster ignited and Sagarika rose from the pontoon. It impacted the sea over 700 km away. A Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) missile technologist said "It has been consistently successful. This is not the first time that we have launched the missile. We have done it earlier a few times although it went by different names."

This test, the sixth test of the 700-km range Sagarika missile, completed its goal of having air, land and sea ballistic systems, the defence ministry said. The launch from a submerged pontoon took place off India’s southeast coast near the port city of Visakhapatnam around 1:00 pm (0730 GMT), a defence ministry spokesman said. With the latest test, India joins an elite group — the United States, Russia, France and China — that has such ability. The test came two months after India’s chief military scientist M. Natarajan said New Delhi would test a ballistic missile with a range of 6,000 kilometers in 2008.

The tactical, submarine-to-surface missile was said to be a light, miniaturised system, which was about 6.5 meters long and weighed seven tons. Powered by solid propellants, it was reported to be able to carry a payload of about 500 kg and can be launched from different platforms - from the ground, from underwater and mobile launchers. Other reports said the missile was powered by a turbojet, could carry a 500-kg payload, and was 8.5 metres long and about a metre in diameter. Ultimately, it will be launched from the indigenous nuclear powered submarine under construction at Kalpalrkam in Tamil Nadu and Visakhapatnam. The missile can carry both nuclear and conventional warheads.

Sagarika was developed at the DRDOs missile complex in Hyderabad. The complex consists of the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), the Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) and the Research Center, Imarat (RCI). The missile was designed and developed by the DRDL, the ASL provided the motors and propulsion systems. The RCI's contribution was in avionics, including control and guidance systems and inertial navigation systems.
In July 2008 DDRO was reported to be near breakthrough in test firing the country's first underwater launch ballistic missile, Sagarika. Sagarika had already been test-fired from a pontoon, but now DRDO is planning a full-fledged test of the missile from a submarine and for this purpose may use the services of a Russian Amur class submarine.

Project K-15 Launcher

The Project K-15 launcher was designed and developed for testing of missiles. The system was been delivered to the user in 2004 and mounted inside a pontoon. Design by analysis approach has been adopted for final configuration of the launcher. The material used for launcher structure is high-strength-lowalloy (HSLA) steel. Sets of guide rails are bolted to the container to hold the launcher.
Advanced fabrication technology has been used to ensure the desired perpendicularity, parallesim and concentricity. A 2.3 m static seal, which restricts water ingress to the bottom of the container, was designed and experimentally validated for extreme hydrostatic pressure.

Platform launcher has been designed for launching medium range surface-to-surface missiles. It comprises a launcher structure, a set of shock isolation systems, a set of launcher locking mechanism, a set of special seals and a connector alignment mechanisms for connector blind mating. The launcher structure is having precision dimensional features for perfect interfacing with the missile and other subsystems. The structure is made of special high strength stainless steel for a maintenance-free service life. This material does not need any corrosion protection against any aggressive marine environment.

The shock isolation systems protect the launcher against shock load. The shock isolation systems comprise disc spring stacks in longitudinal direction and elastic beams in lateral direction. This particular non-conventional combination takes care of compactness and mode decoupling. The locking mechanism locks the shock isolation suspension system and provide rigid support during launch operation. It is a fail-safe all mechanical device. The 2.4 m diameter diaphragm seal prevents water entrance and flexes when the launcher vibrates on the shock isolation mounts. The seal has been developed based on steel reinforced radial tire technology. The connector alignment mechanism has all six degrees of freedom and, therefore, capable to take care of any misalignment within the envisaged limit during blind mating of connector.

In early 2008 India announced that it had perfected the technology for launching missiles from a submerged submarine. That meant the silo design had been perfected as well.

K-15 Missile

DRDO is working on the K-15 SLBM, having tested it from submersible pontoon launchers, with the aim to integrate it on the indigenous nuclear submarines being built under the secretive ATV (advanced technology vessel) project. Though not in the range of the over 5,000-km SLBMs in the arsenal of US, Russia and China, the 750-km range K-15 will accord India with the desperately-needed third leg of the nuclear weapon triad.

The launch of the K-15 Sagarika missile on 26 February 2008 from a submerged pontoon in the Bay of Bengal simulated the conditions of a submarine launch. India, for the first time on Wednesday 12 November 2008, test-fired from a defence base in Orissa its submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) K-15 from a land-based launcher. It was test-fired successfully from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur in the district of Balasore, about 230 km from state capital Bhubaneswar. The test was intended to check speed, trajectory, azimuth and other parameters of the missile. The missile had earlier undergone a few tests in an underwater platform.

The K-15 missile has two stages fitted into its half-meter diameter body. It can carry a payload up to one ton and has a maximum range of 700 km. The K-15 missile has a length of around 11 meters [other reports say only 7 meters], larger than the 8.5-meters-long Prithvi short-range ballistic missile but smaller than the 15-meter-long Agni-1 ballistic missile - both of which have a diameter of 1 meter, twice that reported for the K-15.

Shourya (Valor)

On 12 November 2008 India conducted the fourth successful test of its K15 Sagarika SLBM (Sea Launched Ballistic Missile). This test was from a land-based missile silo. In the last few tests, the metal silo was being tested as well. The K-15 seven ton has a 1,000 kilometer range, and a half ton payload. India test fired the submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) K-15 from a land-based launcher from Orissa. The land based version is named as ‘Shourya’.

The Shourya missile is said to be about 10 meters long. It can carry warheads weighing more than 500 kg. W. Selvamurthy, Chief Controller (R&D), DRDO, said the Shourya missile provided the country with “a second strike capability” because it was a variant of the under-water launched K-15 missile (Sagarika). “We can keep the missile in a secured position [silo] to carry either conventional or nuclear warheads,” Dr. Selvamurthy said. Reportedly, although the Shourya needed a silo with a maximum depth of 50 meters to lift off, it could be launched from 30-meter deep silos [these numbers are too big, and don't make much sense]. It had a booster which fired underground and another which fired in the air.

The DRDO termed as “successful” the flight-test of the ‘Shourya’ missile system from the Interim Test Range (ITR) at Balasore in Orissa at 1125 hours 12 November 2008. The “Shourya” missile "flew at five times the speed of sound, that is Mach 5, for 300 km” of its 600-km range, according to M. Natarajan, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister. Its velocity gradually tapered off during the remaining 300 km of its flight and then it plunged vertically over the targeted site in the Bay of Bengal. What was outstanding about the Shourya’s success was the performance of its indigenous navigation system with the help of a ring-laser gyroscope, Mr. Natarajan said. He called it “a sophisticated navigation and guidance system produced by the Research Centre, Imarat” (RCI) in Hyderabad.

The missile was test fired from a 30-40 feet deep pit with in-built canister specially designed for this purpose. There was no water in the pit. The missile has a range of 600 km and flight duration of 485 seconds. The test was intended to check speed, trajectory, azimuth and other parameters of the missile. What was outstanding about the Shourya’s success was the performance of its indigenous navigation system with the help of a ring-laser gyroscope, according to M. Natarajan, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister.

According to one report Shourya can reach targets 700 km away, carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads. It is 10 meters long and 74 cm in diameter and weighs 6.2 tonnes. It is a two-stage missile and both its stages are powered by solid propellants. Its flight time is 500 seconds to 700 seconds. It can carry warheads weighing more than 500 kg.

The missile has a unique feature of simplicity of operation and maintenance. It can be easily handled, transported and stored within the canister for longer shelf life. The missile, encased in a canister, is mounted on a single vehicle, which has only a driver’s cabin, and the vehicle itself is the launch platform. This “single vehicle solution” reduces its signature – it cannot be easily detected by satellites – and makes its deployment easy. The composite canister make the missile much easier to store for long periods without maintenance as well as to handle and transport. It also houses the gas generator to eject the missile from the canister before its solid propellant motors take over to hurl it at the intended target.

The high manoeuvrability of the missile makes it less vulnerable to available anti-missile defence systems. The missile performed a maneuver of rolling to spread the heat uniformly on its surface. Its high manoeuvrability makes it less vulnerable to present-day anti-missile defence systems.


In mid-2007 it was reported that India was developing a new medium-range, multi-platform missile, called the Nirbhay [Dauntless or Fearless], that was slated to be tested by end-2009. The missile, with a range of 1,000 km, was being developed at the Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), a unit of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under the defence ministry. The latest in the series of India's missile development programme, the Nirbhay follows the Agni (I, II and III), the Prithvi (I and II), the Indo-Russian joint venture supersonic Brahmos, Akash, Trishul and Nag.

"It (Nirbhay) will be better than Babur," explained Avinash Chander, director of ASL, referring to Pakistan's first subsonic, low-level terrain-mapping missile, developed originally with a 500 km range and later upgraded to 700 km. First tested in 2005, the Babur is similar in design to the US BGM-109 Tomahawk land attack cruise missile-the two being roughly the same size and shape. Pakistan is said to be working on a more advanced version with a range of 1,000 km.
The subsonic Nirbhay weighs 1,000 kg with a 1,000 km range and a speed of 0.7 mach. A missile is subsonic when its speed is less than the speed of sound (1 mach). Nirbhay was said to be six meters in length with a 520 mm diameter. While the missile was being developed in-house, India was looking at partnerships for the engine. The requirement for Nirbhay was anticipated by India's three armed forces. Nirbhay is to have multiple platforms and can be launched from ground, sea and air.

Sidharth K Menon