India’s Nuclear Submarine Development: A Strategic Analysis

India's Nuclear Submarine Development

India’s Nuclear Submarine Development

India’s pursuit of ballistic missile nuclear submarines (SSBNs) has been a focal point in its quest to bolster its nuclear deterrent capabilities. As per the “Eurasian Times” report, India has sought to enhance its nuclear triad strike capability, primarily focusing on its sea-based component. This article delves into the current status of India’s sea-based nuclear forces, challenges faced, and future prospects.

India’s Nuclear Arsenal

India's Nuclear Submarine Development

India’s nuclear arsenal is composed of land-based, air-based, and sea-based components. However, its sea-based nuclear force has been the weakest link in its trinity nuclear strike capability.

Land-Based Arsenal

India's Nuclear Submarine Development

India’s land-based nuclear force comprises two series of missiles: the “Earth” and “Agni” series. While the “Earth” series includes various models, only the “Earth” 2 is used as a nuclear weapon carrier. The “Agni” series, on the other hand, has several models, of which “Agni” 1, “Agni” 2, and “Agni” 3 serve as nuclear warhead delivery vehicles.

Air-Based Arsenal

India’s air-based nuclear power relies mainly on the “Phantom” 2000H, “Puma,” and the French “Rafale” fighter jets. However, the aging “Phantom” 2000H and “Jaguar” are set to retire soon, leaving the “Rafale” as the primary option.

Sea-Based Arsenal

India's Nuclear Submarine Development

India’s sea-based nuclear force is currently limited to one domestically-made ballistic missile nuclear submarine, the “Arihant,” which entered service in 2016. However, a mishap in 2017 led to its operational limitations, rendering it unable to complete ocean cruise missions.

Challenges and Future Prospects

Current Challenges

India’s sea-based nuclear force faces several challenges, including a limited number of operational submarines and the absence of a reliable second-strike capability. The “Arihant” remains India’s sole operational SSBN, and its operational capabilities are constrained.

Future Prospects

India is actively pursuing the development of new SSBNs, with plans to build six ballistic missile nuclear submarines. The “Enemy Seeker” is undergoing testing and is expected to enter service in 2024. Additionally, India is reportedly constructing a third SSBN, the “S4,” which is expected to be equipped with K4 missiles.

Strategic Imperatives

India’s pursuit of SSBNs is driven by the need to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent. However, the current limitations underscore the importance of equipping its submarines with longer-range nuclear missiles. The development of a robust sea-based nuclear force is essential for India’s strategic posture.


India’s sea-based nuclear force is a critical component of its nuclear deterrent capabilities. While facing challenges, India’s pursuit of SSBNs reflects its commitment to enhancing its strategic capabilities. The development of a credible sea-based nuclear force is imperative for India’s national security.