India’s nuclear submarine Arihant — classified as top secret so far — has finally been revealed to the world after its picture was carried in the UPA’s report to the people that was released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday.
The first-ever photograph of the super secret submarine, which was launched in July last year at Visakhapatnam, has been published in the ‘security’ section of the report, surprising experts and analysts who had been trying for months to catch a glimpse of India’s first indigenous nuclear submarine.
Till now, the project had been highly classified and all the world had seen of the nuclear attack submarine were artist’s impressions and cross sections drawn by a handful of people, including mediapersons, who saw the submarine at the launch ceremony last year. The photograph in the report seems to be of the same ceremony and shows the submarine in the same dock where it was constructed.
The navy, which is in charge of the security of the project, still considers the photographs of the Arihant as classified. After the submarine was launched almost a year ago, it was moved to another closed dock in Visakhapatnam under the cover of darkness to prevent hovering observation satellites from getting a snapshot.
The government now seems to have decided to release a photograph of the submarine given that it will shortly undertake harbour trials and subsequent trials on the high seas.
The nuclear submarine was launched at a simple ceremony with the traditional breaking of a coconut on its hull by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s wife Gursharan Kaur in July last year. It will be ready for induction into the Navy by 2011 after a series of exhaustive trials. Once inducted, the 6,000-tonne Arihant would be the vital third leg of India’s nuclear policy that hinges around the second strike theory — use of nuclear weapons only as a retaliatory measure against a first strike by the enemy.