Nuke submarine's lease of life extended

Nuke submarine's lease of life extended

Nuke submarine's lease of life extended

The second core of indigenous nuclear-powered submarine Arihant is ready for use, promising continuous service of the boomer at least for the next 15 years.

The second core of Arihant’s nuclear reactor attained criticality – commencement of the nuclear chain reaction signifying energy production – on October 11 at a secret facility known as P4 inside the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai.

“The reload core would be fitted into the Arihant at the time of refuelling, which may come after 7-8 years depending on the journey the submarine undertook. At the time of refuelling, the entire core will be changed,” a nuclear scientist told Deccan Herald.

A core is a part of the nuclear reactor which houses the fuel and where nuclear reactions take place to produce the energy.

Materials and components for the second core was made at the department of atomic energy facilities in Mysore, Hyderabad and Trombay.

The 80 MWe nuclear reactor on-board the Arihant went critical on August 10. Under construction at a military dockyard in Visakhapatnam, the 104 mt-long and 6,000-tonne submarine is likely to undergo sea trial in 2014 and may be inducted by 2015.

Once inducted, India will be only the sixth nation in the world to build and operate nuclear-powered submarines.

Weapons’ trial

There is, however, no confirmation from the Navy and defence ministry on the weapons trial, without which Arihant cannot be deployed on sea trials.In September, Avinash Chander, director-general of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and scientific adviser to Defence Minister stated weapon trials of the Arihant would take place either in the last quarter of 2013 or in the beginning of 2014.

Known as B05 (as well as K-15), the submarine launched ballistic missile is the main weapon for India’s first SSBN. It was tested successfully from an under-water pontoon off Visakhapatnam in January showcasing the missile’s ability to break waters.

“It is now fully ready for integration with the submarine,” the DRDO chief stated, refusing to disclose the range of the missile, which in its final version would carry nuclear warheads.

India has already taken one nuclear-powered submarine (INS Chakra) on lease from Russia and talks are going on between New Delhi and Moscow to take one more N-powered submarine on lease for expediting the training of Indian crews.

Navy has plans to build at least three indigenous nuclear submarines and there are unconfirmed reports that the second one named Aridaman may be launched in the water by the middle of 2014. Launched in water in 2009 in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Arihant finished its harbour acceptance trial and is slated to go for patrolling in the high-seas.

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