Arihant has dived below “crushing depths”

Call up a recent photo of Arihant SSBN publicly available at
http://www.ndtv.com/news/images/story_page/INS_Arihant_650_final.jpg.
What do you see?

The most obvious thing that has not been commented on is the humpback on the hull — the so-called “one and a half hulls””– that
permits the boat to slice through water, performing diving and other actions more efficiently. It is a design aspect, along with several other design features, taken from the Russian Severodvinsk and Borei class nuclear subs.

The less obvious but far more significant things to notice is that Arihant has apparently returned from a mission where it dived below crushing depths of well over 300 meters, around 340-350 metres, to see how well the hull would hold up. It has held up beautifully.

But how can this be deduced?Look closely at the smooth skin on the hull. The titanium alloyed hull has withstood the quite enormous pressures on it in the deep without crimping. But on the differently metalled conning tower there is evidence of the skin being crunched — see the wavy formations? — at great depths. It cannot be reproduced in labs or synthetically. And it couldn’t have happened because the Arihant dived to the 100 metre depth of the Vizag channel leading to the open sea. That the structure held up very well may be attributed to the extraordinary welding that fused the tower to the hull.

While it has been publicly put out that the Indian SSBN was working up its nuclear power plant to full power, etc., the fact is it takes no more than a month at the most, at a graduated pace, to reach the full 80 MW drive power. So for the rest of the last 8 months or so, it has been cruising and diving, including below crushing depths. After several more such deep dives the Arihant will have anechoic tiles — able to absorb sound waves, making detection by sonar more difficult — attached to its outer surface, and it will be ready for induction into fleet operations.

The most commendable aspect, other than the high-class technology and manufacturing skills of Indian welders, is the guts shown by the CO, XO, and the rest of the crew of the Arihant in making these repeated hazardous dives but required as a stern test for an SSBN.

The BIG QUESTION that arises is: With so much evidence of indigenous design and manufacturing skills on the Arihant, why is the Indian Navy still hankering for foreign submersibles and not trusting Indian capabilities to produce the Project 75i conventional submarine???

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
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65 Responses to Arihant has dived below “crushing depths”

  1. RV says:

    Given the resolution, angle, and lighting in the image, it is pretty hard to say with any degree of certainty as to whether the boat has indeed undergone any sort of crush depth tests, or whether the crimping on the conning tower is the effect of anechoic tiles. There could be a number of conflicting theories that could be propounded and hypothesized given whatever publicly available information is at hand. All one can say with some certainty is that: i.) the design is excellent and streamlined, and ii.) on the basis of appearance, the welding on the hull (and by extension the hull integrity) is first-rate (though this can only be tested by taking the boat to the vicinity of crushing depths, unless that has already been done as this article hypothesizes). This has become a feature of IN vessels, another example being the superb quality of the design and workmanship on the INS Kolkata.

    With regards to Indian content in the design of the said boat, it is really very difficult to say. To discount seriously significant Russian inputs would be improper. This is the first time that a Nation has gone directly to a “boomer” without designing and manufacturing a SSN or even a SSK, which in itself says something. What is very interesting in the Arihant class is that it is the first instance of what seems to be a new thrust in submarine design – a dedicated hybrid SSBN/SSGN, and that too emanating from one of least likely countries. The K-4’s provide the SSBN capability and the boost glide K-15’s provide a SSGN-like capability.

    Whether India should leverage this level of technology to build the P -75 I’s, I would say YES, this should be an indigenous effort with whatever external help coming from the sources of technology for the INS Arihant (whoever they may be) . Though L&T has its hands full in the Arihant and other follow-up boats, a parallel line can also be set up. To include more players, the necessary technology can also be spawned off yards like Pipavav, etc. If this takes time, to make up for the depleted submarine count in the IN, the Russian Amur with BrahMos firing capability can be acquired as suggested by recent press reports.

  2. Pointless says:

    Nuke subs and diesel-electric (or DE+AIP) are very different beasts. Just because L&T, or any Indian yard for that matter, can do a good job on a hull means nothing when it comes to designing and laying out the internals of the machine. The Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design is a first-rate organisation but their Submarine Design Group (SDG) has never designed or built ANY submarine. The Arihant programme came under the ATV (Advanced Technology Vessel) group, which was (and remains) separate from the DND/SDG.

    Considering that Arihant took 20+ years from design to trials, even a best case scenario will see a clean-sheet DE or DE+AIP design take an easy decade from conception to construction, with further years spent on trials.

    Waiting ten years (best case) or fifteen (more realistic) for the first new indigenous submarine is simply not sound logic. The P-75 is delayed and construction is slow. Type 209s are due either for retirement or refit, but the latter option reduces availability. The Kilo-class fleet will be down to 7 next year with Sindhukesari entering refit in Russia and Sindhukirti stuck at HSL in Vizag for 8-odd years now.

    Today’s problem is one of qualitative as well as quantitative shortfalls, and while the former can be sorted out over time within the country, the urgency of the latter demands a P-75I style acquisitoin programme. On the other hand, we’re screwed for cash, and any spending in FE will not be looked at kindly by the beancounters. Rock, meet Hard Place.

    • RV says:

      @Pointless, you make an excellent point in stating :”Nuke subs and diesel-electric (or DE+AIP) are very different beasts…The Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design is a first-rate organisation but their Submarine Design Group (SDG) has never designed or built ANY submarine. The Arihant programme came under the ATV (Advanced Technology Vessel) group, which was (and remains) separate from the DND/SDG.”. Replicating the DND/SDG wou;ld be another time consuming and arduous affair. Prolonging and extending the Scorpene farce and agony, where the said SSK’s without AIP cost about as much as an Akula 2, is simply unacceptable.

      In fact, this could well result in another series of “roundtables” with their Youtube clips with the IAF and the IA now accusing the IN of incompetence, bias,… I suppose the only option is to buy some/most of the Russian Amur’s (with AIP) modified to operate the BrahMos outright and make the rest in India. China, with far greater experience than India in submarine design and manufacturing experience and talent/manpower, has already placed an initial order for 3 Amur’s.

    • The very weaknesses and shortfalls of the submarine design grp you mention is what were supposed to be rectified with the HDW 209 and the Scorpene SSK contracts. Why hasn’t that happened? Perhaps, because while the Grp may have to some extent absorbed the technology and developed the requisite skills and competences, it hasn’t apparently developed the confidence to freeze design decisions, such as standardizing the diving depths, for instance. There’ll never be a good time if import dependency is offered as substitute. Please read the veteran submariner VADM Sushil’s responses to my earlier pieces on the Project 75i (on this blog — in the Indian Navy section).

  3. RV says:

    If one examines the picture on the India Today cover:

    2DOTbpDOTblogspotDOTcom/_o_no4M2xEPY/SnraGGWlrzI/AAAAAAAAH4o/gFId3VIO0Xc/s1600/new%2Bcopy-707909DOTjpg

    (please replace all instances of “DOT” with “.”) the “crimping” or “nodule” like effect/shape on the conning tower is clearly evident, and resembles that in the NDTV image. However, the same “rubbery coating” is also seen on the hull, which does not seem to be eminently evident in the NDTV image. Again, care should be taken to note the effects of resolution, angle, and lighting, and even effects of “touch ups” when judging from publicly available sources.

    Further, from the image:

    economictimesDOTindiatimesDOTcom/photo/4822916DOTcms

    (please replace all instances of “DOT” with “.”) the hull shows a covering of a smooth silvery coating which appears to extend to the base of the conning tower. Unfortunately, the said image does not capture any details of the boat owing to the undesirable nature of the primary object/objective. Still further, from this image:

    2DOTbpDOTblogspotDOTcom/_o_no4M2xEPY/TAUXIto0lwI/AAAAAAAAKh0/Il8lpGHIeXg/s400/ARIHANT-718188DOTJPG

    (please replace all instances of “DOT” with “.”) the hull of the boat appears to have a rubbery coating. Thus, in a nutshell, the recent NDTV image provides no explicit/direct evidence to suggest that the boat was taken to “crushing depths”. This however does not in any way foreclose such a possibility.

  4. RV says:

    It does seem increasingly evident that the NDTV image depicting the INS Arihant does not reveal any explicit evidence that the boat was never taken to its crushing depth. The crimping/distortions and even some of the irregularities on the conning tower appears to be a consequence of optical occlusions of the anechoic tiles caused by angle, lighting, and resolution. In some cases, irregularities are deliberately induced to facilitate maximum acoustic damping. Stating my arguments in point form for the sake of brevity:

    1. Given the image displayed by NDTV:

    pbsDOTtwimgDOTcom/media/BvetA0GCMAAJgNFDOTpng

    (please replace all instances of “DOT” with “.”) If the boat was taken to its crushing depth a likely place which would exhibit structural distortions would is the white vertical band on the rear of the conning tower. This does not appear to be the case. Further, the region where the conning tower joins the hull appears to be unaffected. This would be another region to examine for any structural distortions.

    2. Comparing the NDTV image of the INS Arihant with not too common image of the boat in an article in India Today many years ago, one finds the same “nodule-like” shapes/formations on the conning tower:

    iDOTimgurDOTcom/jXnyADOTjpg

    please replace all instances of “DOT” with “.”.

    3. Finally, examining the anechoic tiles of a USS New Hampshire on its induction ceremony:

    xpdaDOTcom/virginiasubs/081025-N-6553L-022DOTjpg

    (please replace all instances of “DOT” with “.”) irregularities in the anechoic tiles, though of a different type, possibly because of the different coloring and the composition/size of the tiles, and the image properties. Now, examination of the image of the identical boat taken just a few days prior to the one taken above during the rehearsals for its induction ceremony:

    trbimgDOTcom/img-50b7b216/turbine/hr-dp-081023-n-7441h-0520100727043438/600/600x400DOTjpg

    (please replace all instances of “DOT” with “.”) show differences in the anechoic tiles to that shown above, in a different conditions of resolution, lighting. angle, etc..

    Thus, prima-facie the NDTV image does not exhibit any explicit evidence that the INS Arihant was taken to its crushing depth. However, one cannot entirely discount such a test(s) SINCE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE IS NOT EVIDENCE OF ABSENCE!

  5. satyaki says:

    Bharat Sir,

    But with just 4 K-4 missiles, isn’t the number of nuclear warheads on the Arihant class sub. bey low ? Unless the K-4 has a heavy MIRV payload, is constructing a SSBN for just 4 slums worth it?

    • RV says:

      Take the worst case scenario of 2 K-4’s with one warhead each and the remaining 2 K-4 silos each fitted out with K-15’s in 3 pack “shooter” tubes with one warhead per K-15 (total 6 K-15’s). That makes it 2 warheads (from the K-4’s for targets at ~ 3500+ Kms.) + 6 warheads (from the K-15’s at ~ 1500 Kms.). That’s not bad for starters.

      The main issues of concern now are:

      1. Sound dampening – does India have: (1.) the engineering capability to do the necessary “soundproofing” of these boats, and (2.) the necessary talent possessing in-depth knowledge of instrumentation and the numerical tools to assess the quality of the “soundproofing” and identifications of possible sources of noise (such as ICA/BSS),

      2. Obtaining the necessary amounts of supergrade Plutonium 239 to manufacture warheads for submarine operations.

      3. SSBN operations require a different and higher level of skills than SSK and often even SSN operations. Many critical SSBN operations cannot be mimicked/emulated on a SSN (like the Akula-2). One of the finest example of such skills which are written in Letters of Gold in the annals of submarine operations was when on August 6, 1991, the Delta-IV submarine (Novomoskovsk), under the command of Captain (Second Rank) S. V. Egorov, performed a full salvo underwater launch of all 16 R-29RM SLBM’s.

      The whole process took around 224 seconds. During this period, the submarine expelled more than 650 tons of weight. Launching SLBM’s in even the simplest of salvo modes is a very complex exercise for two primary reasons. First, tons of water is ingested for even a single launch . Stability control is usually achieved through a continuous process of ballasting and deballasting, while maintaining course through trimming (fins & screw). Next, while doing all the above, the submarine has to traverse a circular pattern called the “launch corridor” to minimize error. Reference is made to the Youtube clip:

      wwwDOTyoutubeDOTcom/watch?v=ath0oT-4bns

      please replace all instances of “DOT” with “.”.

      Accomplishing the above tasks is not easy!

    • The Arihant may benefit from a revolver-like contraption firing ballistic and cruise missiles; so the SSBN may carry more than just 4 K-4s/K-15s.

      • RV says:

        The revolver like contraption that you mention are the “shooter” rotating tubes which carry up to 3 K-15’s per “shooter” tube placed in a single K-4 silo. These are ONLY for K-15’s. I believe follow-up boats will carry more tubes. Some of the Ohio-class are also being converted to SSGN’s where up to 7 Tomahawks in “shooter” tubes are placed in a single Trident silos. Further, even if the Arihant has 650 mm torpedo tubes, accommodating current BrahMos designs fired from the torpedo tubes would not be possible,

      • RV says:

        As an addendum, the Tomahawk CM and Trident SLBM layout in the Ohio class submarine are well depicted in this image:

        img694DOTimageshackDOTus/img694/171/postommixDOTjpg

        please replace all instances of “DOT” with “.”. The Arihant and its sister ships will have 3 K-15 missiles in a single K-4 SLBM tube. WHETHER THE K-15’s IN THE INS ARIHANT AND SISTER SHIPS EMPLOY THE SAME MECHANISM AS THE “SHOOTER” ROTATING TUBES ON THE OHIO -CLASS SUBMARINES, IS A MATTER OF CONJECTURE.

        However, it needs to be stated that assuming a “shooter” rotating tube mechanism for the K-15 may not be entirely unreasonable mechanism depending upon the dimensions of the boat. It may be of interest to show different images launcher/cannister for the K-15:

        topyapsDOTcom/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/K-15-missileDOTjpg

        please replace all instances of “DOT” with “.”. In the forum LiveFist, a picture alleged to be the R-glass composite launcher/cannister for the K-15’s on prospective Arihant class submarines is depicted in:

        2DOTbpDOTblogspotDOTcom/_o_no4M2xEPY/TDs0YqsOZGI/AAAAAAAAK5s/UreyzbOBeNQ/s400/SL_cannister-750872DOTjpg

        please replace all instances of “DOT” with “.”.

  6. robert says:

    The IN certainly would be better off establishing a simultaneous second line for SSGNs which could be modifications of the basic ATV design along with the SSBNs being planned.Nuclear subs in blue water operations have distinct advantages over conventional subs,even AIP ones especially in endurance ,speed and weapons payload. The case of how just one RN nuclear boat,the Conqueror sent the entire Argentinian fleet back into port during the Falklands War after sinking the Belgrano is illustrative.We have been struggling with both the U-209 and Scorpene (non-AIP) conventional boat projects,the latter 3-4 years delayed.The costs too for these latter boats are prohibitive and in the balance fall far short of the performance of nuclear subs.

    The P-75I programme,now rather long in the tooth,needs to be restructured given the time that has elapsed as new AIP technologies mature.What is another key requirement is the development of UUVs,including long endurance UUVs,which can patrol autonomously off key choke points and naval bases.Mini-UUVs launched from larger subs should also be essential equipment at least of our larger nuclear subs.

    • RV says:

      While the Arihant class boats and their follow ups are vital for India’s strategic deterrent and some specific Blue Water operations, conversion of the submarine arm of the IN to an all nuclear force is neither practical nor affordable. SSK’s (preferably with AIP) have a distinct advantage over the larger SSN’s in littoral waters. Much action in a conflict with Pakistan will certainly involve operations in littoral waters, or just off them. Further, in “choke points” like the Malacca Straits etc., SSK’s would do very well in augmenting the sole IN Akula-2, and hopefully, the modified Akula (Irbis) which is around 60 % completed, and whose lease is supposedly in the works..BTW, for reference, this RAND Corporation Report “A Survey of Missions for Unmanned Undersea Vehicles” available at:

      wwwDOTrandDOTorg/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2009/RAND_MG808DOTpdf

      makes excellent and well informed reading. Please replace all instances of “DOT” with “.” in the said URL.

    • Armed UUVs are the prime sea-monitoring-sea denial naval assets of the future, launchable from subs and surface combatants. One hopes the Indian Navy is fast-forwarding programmes to realize such capability.

    • RV says:

      I should have placed this RAND Corporation Report: “Applications for Navy Unmanned Aircraft Systems” available at:

      wwwDOTrandDOTorg/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2010/RAND_MG957DOTpdf

      as a suggested augmented/accompanying material to the above RAND Corporation Report on UUV’s. Please replace all instances of “DOT” with “.” in the above URL.

  7. bispat says:

    How on earth without a DSRV a new submarine can go for diving tests? And i suspect India do not have a DSRV.IN floated a tender for DSRV but it has been stuck due to Mr.A.K. Antony who just destroyed the Indian Armed Forces preparedness level by his sheer stupidity.

  8. Sorry but it’s impossible for any submarine, especially of an unproven class (the lead boat is still in trials), to undertake such testing without a fully operational DSRV (Deep-Submergence Rescue Vessel) on site. While IN has placed firm orders for such vehicles, the first of them is yet to arrive, until it arrives, no such rigorous testing regimes will be imposed on the Arihant, for the safety of it’s crew, and for the safety of itself…after all, we’ve spent billions doing R&D & constructing these subs…

    • bispat says:

      Exactly,it can’t be happening.How can any self-respecting navy send its unproven submarine for diving tests without a DSRV accompanying it,it will be suicidal to say the least.Leave alone the crushing depths it can’ t go for even its basic depth testing.Don’ t report just anything to make news without properly investigating the matter.

  9. Dr. T. Singh says:

    The truth is India is genuinely the only country in Asia which has nuclear propelled submarines. We must thank the USSR-Russia and the DRDO for this. China is working hard to make a genuine nuclear propelled submarine with help from her Israeli allies.Though Israel has no experience in this area they could procure this technology from other sources.

  10. Itanium says:

    @Bharat Karnad

    Not sure if this platform is worth the pain and all that money when we are not even in a position to fit those SLBMs with nuclear warhead of proper yield. Any warhead to be considered a strategic deterrent should atleast be 250-300KT in yield.

    Is this massive investment justified with just a sorry 45kT nuclear demonstration 18 years back in 1998? – Id suggest GOI to strengthen the weakest link in the chain first. At the end of the day NATO / Chinese wont take anything less that 250-300KT warhead too seriously. We are indeed paying a huge prize for the strategic blunders our leaders committed by throwing away nuclear testing and weaponization programme following 1975 test.

    • RV says:

      @Itanium: WRT to your correct statement: “Any warhead to be considered a strategic deterrent should at least be 250-300KT in yield.”, perhaps you need to take this up with R. Chidambaram. Frankly, I find India’s quest for a “strategic deterrent” , “triad” and what not, to be a pretty pathetic charade!

      • Itanium says:

        Agree fully with you.

        I have seen Chidambaram furiously defend the success of the two stage thermonuclear device. Even if it was a success, device physics might always change with more fusion fuel and without a full yield test we cannot know for sure if the device will perform with 250-300kt yield. The more vociferously he defends the yield, the more he loses credibility.

        Besides in my opinion deterrence is a concept that works only for small, militarily limited countries like Iran and North Korea who have less of a threshold for using these weapons thereby effectively deterring any NATO or American led invasion effectively. However in case of India with a giant military infrastructure, any power China or [/ NATO / America] in times of military conflict with India would consider it a nuclear adversary and would unleash full force of their nuclear arsenal.

        Deterrence wouldn’t work then. The only option would be to fight full nuclear war which at present level of nuclear weaponization we cannot.

      • RV says:

        @Itanium: A strategic deterrence platform without a strategic warhead is meaningless. In the coming days, Modi will in all probability seal an Indo-Japanese N-deal which will result in the strategic neutering of India.

      • RV says:

        I hope that 5 years from today, one does not have to look back and say that the US stooge MMS was a great Indian patriot.

      • Itanium says:

        We could make high yield nuclear test in high earth orbit or lunar orbit with GSLV Mk-2 or Mk-3, but alas we need to take care of slum dwellers first or else they will put the govt out of business. Nuclear test be damned!

      • RV says:

        Indian slum dwellers should be as important to any Indian government as any other Indian citizens. Taking care of the needs of the Indian slum dwellers does not imply strategically neutering India. It requires honest, competent, tough, and ruthlessly focused leadership. I believe Modi has the capability of achieving it, and pray he lives up to expectations..

    • Itanium says:

      @RV

      The designers of Pokhran II, from what information we have online designed the TN warheads to have full blown yield of 250kT but de-fueled the TN stage to limit the yield to 45kT so that damages to the nearby villages could be contained.

      Now their argument is that if TN stage is fully fueled then it will indeed have an explosive yield of 250kT. It is like saying we built a car that went for 45 miles but could have as well gone 250 miles if we had more petrol in the tank.

      The only problem is that the car may wear out as it travels more and more and may break down at 170 miles. Similarly the device physics may change as you load the TN stage with full fusion fuel causing it to breakdown with only 70% of full intended yield.

      Despite my conservative outlook, I still believe that with the kind of effort and research that has gone into warhead design in India, we can for sure design TN warhead that goes upto 170kT on-wards upto 250kT. This faith is primarily based on the intrinsic simplicity of a TN design. It ain’t no rocket science. China moved from simple atomic weapons to TN weapons in just 18 months.

      Now for anything above 250kT like 400kT or 3MT, then for sure we need more testing. For 60MT like Tzar Bomba, it needs a different level of ingenuity altogether. But mega yield weapons are thing of the past. Everyone including Russians and Americans have at most 400kT MIRVd missiles. Americans primarily go with 250kT.

  11. Itanium says:

    We could make high yield nuclear test in high earth orbit or lunar orbit with GSLV Mk-2 or Mk-3, but alas we need to take care of slum dwellers first or else they will put the govt out of business. Nuclear test be damned!

    • RV says:

      @Itanium: Indian slum dwellers should be as important to any Indian government as any other Indian citizens. Taking care of the needs of the Indian slum dwellers does not imply strategically neutering India. It requires honest, competent, tough, and ruthlessly focused leadership. I believe Modi has the capability of achieving it, and pray he lives up to expectations..

    • Itanium says:

      @RV

      Well what more can I say. I think I & You will not know answer to those questions [Unless you work within atomic research labs of P5 – I clearly don’t]. More importantly I think even BARC scientists don’t have clear answers to those questions, hence the need for more testing.

      By going with CMD, I think we screwed up big time by getting worst of both worlds – wrath & sanctions for having tested nuclear weapons and at the same time staying marginal & inconsequential nuclear power without going for thermonuclear armaments.

      I believe a series of three more thermonuclear tests should suffice for India to have a reliable TN design. With the amount of data India has at her disposal, I bet the next TN test will be a good success – although you can never know for sure.

  12. Dr. Raje says:

    India’s capability to manufacture nuclear warheads since 1960 is well known. The genius Homi Bhabha saw to it that we had tons of Plutonium-239 which China even lacked up to the 1990s. Our bombs are all well tested (several times) and we have a thermonuclear device of 300 kiloton on our missiles. Try us. do not forget we tested (though late) a sophisticated Plutonium-239 device in 1974.

    • RV says:

      Do remind me again, …., when and where was this 300 kT Indian TN device demonstrated? And BTW, do educate us as to the outcomes repeated tests of “Our bombs”.

      WRT: “Try us. do not forget we tested (though late) a sophisticated Plutonium-239 device in 1974.”, that’s a pretty scary thought. I’m sure that all and sundry from the Zhongnanhai to the Potomac must be trebling at India’s nuclear might.

    • RV says:

      Now, how could this have escaped me? WRT: “Try us. do not forget we tested (though late) a sophisticated Plutonium-239 device in 1974”.

      1. India has been tried and tested quite thoroughly.
      2. The world is full of admiration of India’s 1974 test of a sophisticated Pu 239 bomb….(sic)!

    • Itanium says:

      I wish all that were true, all that we really can bank on is a partially successful weapon of 45kT yield design that can theoretically be scaled upto 250kT. Now the fusion stage can become a big ‘dud’ when you try to scale it up with more fusion fuel – or it may explode with full 250kT yield or a partial yield in the range of 100-170kT. Many such possibilities exists.

      You need to experimentally validate the design as nobody is a god and knows everything about the device physics. That’s what all the P5 nuclear countries did between 1945 to 1996. But when they were done gathering mountains of information, refining and re-refining their weapon design they pulled down the curtain on nuclear testing for all other countries and in the process we the not so intelligent [Indian] people got royally ‘screwed’.

      • RV says:

        @Itanium: What is the basis of this specified range 100-170 kT, for a partially performing Indian TN? When a number (or range) is explicitly cited, a rationale needs to be provided for the number/bounds!

    • Itanium says:

      The designers of Pokhran II, from what information we have online designed the TN warheads to have full blown yield of 250kT but de-fueled the TN stage to limit the yield to 45kT so that damages to the nearby villages could be contained.

      Now their argument is that if TN stage is fully fueled then it will indeed have an explosive yield of 250kT. It is like saying we built a car that went for 45 miles but could have as well gone 250 miles if we had more petrol in the tank.

      The only problem is that the car may wear out as it travels more and more and may break down at 170 miles. Similarly the device physics may change as you load the TN stage with full fusion fuel causing it to breakdown with only 70% of full intended yield.

      Despite my conservative outlook, I still believe that with the kind of effort and research that has gone into warhead design in India, we can for sure design TN warhead that goes upto 170kT on-wards upto 250kT. This faith is primarily based on the intrinsic simplicity of a TN design. It ain’t no rocket science. China moved from simple atomic weapons to TN weapons in just 18 months.

      Now for anything above 250kT like 400kT or 3MT, then for sure we need more testing. For 60MT like Tzar Bomba, it needs a different level of ingenuity altogether. But mega yield weapons are thing of the past. Everyone including Russians and Americans have at most 400kT MIRVd missiles. Americans primarily go with 250kT.

    • Itanium says:

      @RV
      I have provided some facts to support my arguments even-though I am no nuclear scientist. Id strongly suggest you do the same even though I basically see the validity of your point.

      • RV says:

        @Itanium: All I can say with certainty is that your statement: “[t]his faith is primarily based on the intrinsic simplicity of a TN design…” is dead wrong! Let this however not dampen your noble educational crusade!.

    • Itanium says:

      @RV
      The hardest part in any nuclear weapons design is the enrichment of nuclear materials:- U235, Plutonium. China from what I know had two TN tests fail with the third succeeding – so it just took them three tests to get to TN weapons way back in 60s with absolutely no modern computing technology at their disposal back then – remember it was way backward than today back then. This clearly implies design itself is not too hard or complex. [I am pretty sure Soviets wouldn’t have been stupid enough to throw away TN design to them via viz all the border conflicts they had with them].

      The biggest problem in TN design is being able to do enough tests to gather data for “instrumenting” the geometries of the weapon internals so as to obtain a sustained fusion reaction (like focusing X-Rays from atomic stage yield to fusion fuel) – and this is where we SCREWED UP BIG TIME by not going ahead with N testing program after 74.

      There are far more complex systems that India has been able to accomplish – like Cryogenic engines, Agni level ICBMs, SLBMs, N Submarines etc… which are very well known for their true complexities the way you are referring to – due to hundreds of interacting components.

      • RV says:

        @Itanium:And given your extensive experience, what geometries would you suggest and why?

      • RV says:

        @Itanium:: At approximately what yield (KT) does radiation start behaving like a fluid (Radiation Hydrodynamics)? How and why would you focus X-rays?

    • Itanium says:

      @RV

      Well what more can I say. I think I & You will not know answer to those questions [Unless you work within atomic research labs of P5 – I clearly don’t]. More importantly I think even BARC scientists don’t have clear answers to those questions, hence the need for more testing.

      By going with CMD, I think we screwed up big time by getting worst of both worlds – wrath & sanctions for having tested nuclear weapons and at the same time staying marginal & inconsequential nuclear power without going for thermonuclear armaments.

      I believe a series of three more thermonuclear tests should suffice for India to have a reliable TN design. With the amount of data India has at her disposal, I bet the next TN test will be a good success – although you can never know for sure.

      ======================================================================
      Sorry for repeat postings, I can never get it to post in right place due to lack of “reply” button on every comment.

    • Itanium says:

      @RV

      At approximately what yield (KT) does radiation start behaving like a fluid (Radiation Hydrodynamics)? How and why would you focus X-rays?
      —————————————————————————————————————-

      Regarding Radiation Hydrodynamics I think you are getting it wrong here. Its just study of how fluids interact with electromagnetic radiation – For example the interaction of Deuterium Tritium released from Lithium Deuteride with Hard & Soft X-Rays.
      Not sure if electromagnetic radiation ever behaves like a fluid.

      About your second point we would want to focus X-Rays from atomic explosion so that that the Deuterium and Tritium released from Lithium Deuteride is imparted gargantuan amount of pressures needed for them to overcome “Coloumbic Repulsion Barrier” and then fuse into a resultant of lower mass – The lost matter is your yield E = mc2.

      On a side note we Indians tend to make a straightforward matters erroneously complex and start dropping our jaws and fret away from it. Most of the times things are rather straightforward – and efforts will yield results if done properly after rational thought. None of these things are too hard to achieve.

      • RV says:

        I see…. how wonderful… (sic)!

      • Itanium says:

        @RV
        I see…. how wonderful… (sic)!
        —————————————————————————————————————-

        Oh yeah! What did you see and how is it wonderful?

      • RV says:

        @Itanium: It’s your ignorance and flippant attitude/thought process that’s wonderful. It is so typically Indian! In any case, do venture to study the classic monograph ” Foundations of Radiation Hydrodynamics”, by Mihalas & Mihalas. For a more condensed version, get hold of the LANL Report by Mihalas and Weaver. Now, that’s all you’ll get from me.

      • Itanium says:

        @RV

        Until you tell me why I am wrong or challenge [or] disprove my points, I am pretty much done here as well. Its easy to look up 100 book titles on a subject and mention it all here.

        But you need to point out and say what is “wrong” with my assertions if you are well versed in the subject. If you show me I am wrong I will gladly accept it [unlike the “typical” Indian who brings ego as a road block in his path of enlightenment] – but giving a book title and asking me to prove myself wrong ain’t good answer. Now that’s all you will get from me.

      • RV says:

        @itanium: Public forums are not the place to discuss serious matters. I do NOT claim (and NEVER have claimed) to have knowledge of any strategic or confidential material. In all these matters, I believe there is a significant issue called BURDEN OF KNOWLEDGE. Meanwhile, as a friend, I suggest you study Mihalas’ book,if you are really interested. That’s only for starters, but there is no better starting point. BTW, the rile of thumb is that at around 10 KT, radiation starts acquiring fluid-like behavior (RHD). Take care and good luck.

      • Itanium says:

        @RV

        I wave my white flag [surrender]. But what we are discussing are very well known facts and there is nothing too secretive or top confidential about it. I confess its been a while since I have done my “Multivariate & Tensor calculus” and have neither the time nor the energy to understand all the “partial differential equations” characterizing fluid flows in that book you mentioned [even though any ordinary guy can with requisite effort].

      • RV says:

        @Itanium: When serious countries (like say, China and the rest of the P5) did their tests, they conducted them like some very large physics/engineering experiment. Every single detail was taken care of and every detail was X-checked by multiple teams. This is unlike the attitude of countries like India who tested just to make some half-baked political statement. This point is mentioned in the book Nuclear Express by Reed & Stillman.

        India should have kept testing till a demonstrated yield of 250 KT was reached. The penalty for one test or (say) X tests would have been the same – sanctions. So, I really do’t know why the Indians did not take their time and prepare well, and keep testing till an accepted yield was obtained. This is serious business for serious people and serious Nations. One cannot have a dud and then say “Trust us, we can scale up to 250+ KT”. Deterrence is largely a mind game. One cannot claim deterrence beyond a figure that is demonstrated.

        About the issue of complex engineering systems like Cryo engines, etc. you have claimed in your previous post that India has achieved, there is one very critical point you missed out. When any single part or subsystem fails in any of the above stated systems, there can be a rectification or a re-design by simulating/emulating virtually the identical regimes in which the failure occurred. This is not possible in a TN. In any case, there is nothing one can do with these people. India is after all “a land of subjugation”.

      • RV says:

        BTW @Itanium, you are correct about the *reasons* underlying the focusing of X-rays. However, what needs to be stated is that the mechanism employed to build-up the radiation pressure till it reaches the required threshold is the key. This mechanism (radiation channel) should be largely opaque to X-rays radiation while the radiation pressure is built up. This is one of the bottlenecks in such devices.

      • RV says:

        The sentence should read as: “However, what needs to be stated is that the mechanism employed to build-up the radiation pressure till it reaches the required threshold and uniformity is the key..”

      • Itanium says:

        @RV

        You Said:
        When serious countries (like say, China and the rest of the P5) did their tests, they conducted them like some very large physics/engineering experiment. Every single detail was taken care of and every detail was X-checked by multiple teams. This is unlike the attitude of countries like India who tested just to make some half-baked political statement. This point is mentioned in the book Nuclear Express by Reed & Stillman.

        My Response:
        True and Indians failed to do that and because of that India is not a serious nuclear power, nor does it have Credible Minimum Deterrent. I agree with you fully on that point. India needs a series of at least 3-5 TN tests to validate its design.

        But, you count China among the “Serious”! Really? I am sure they have done admirable achievements in ensuring their national security & space programme, but this is the same country that mercilessly destroys its ecological balance and had in the past started a programme of hunting down Sparrows! We all know its horrible consequences! Now they are messing up their land with toxic pollution! I wouldn’t be so hasty in talking about China in glowing terms – sorry we can’t agree on that.
        —————————————————————————————————————-
        You Said:
        India should have kept testing till a demonstrated yield of 250 KT was reached. The penalty for one test or (say) X tests would have been the same – sanctions. So, I really do’t know why the Indians did not take their time and prepare well, and keep testing till an accepted yield was obtained.

        My Response:
        Yes, Yes & Yes. India made a horrible strategic blunder by not testing it enough times starting from 1974 [I think we should have done the test much sooner like 1963]. Either India should not have gone nuclear at all, or once they did it, they should have gone for full blown TN level weaponization. By deliberately staying as a marginal atomic power, they got worst of both worlds – Sanctions for going nuclear & zero security for not possessing TN weaponry. Harsh as it my sound there is only one word that explains this disaster – “Stupidity” on part of we Indians.
        —————————————————————————————————————-
        You Said:
        This is serious business for serious people and serious Nations. One cannot have a dud and then say “Trust us, we can scale up to 250+ KT”. Deterrence is largely a mind game. One cannot claim deterrence beyond a figure that is demonstrated.

        My Response:
        Agreed. Nothing can substitute actual demonstration of 250KT yield. Id go a step further & say India needs around 500kT weaponizable, MIRV mountable warheads. However I certainly believe we certainly don’t need megaton monsters. That said I stick to my original point – three or four more tests should be enough to validate a 300kT TN design for India.

        When will that window of opportunity arise? – I can never say. Sadly though, in hindsight I can say we just lost one – The 2008 economic disaster in US when India could’ve certainly pushed for one series of testing – The whole world would’ve been busy dealing with the financial mess. US for sure was not in a position to muster an Indian sanction.
        But Alas! We are Indians under “Manmohan Singh”! [Tears].
        —————————————————————————————————————-
        You Said:
        About the issue of complex engineering systems like Cryo engines, etc. you have claimed in your previous post that India has achieved, there is one very critical point you missed out. When any single part or subsystem fails in any of the above stated systems, there can be a rectification or a re-design by simulating/emulating virtually the identical regimes in which the failure occurred. This is not possible in a TN. In any case, there is nothing one can do with these people. India is after all “a land of subjugation”.

        My Response:
        Again I am never asserting that simulations, calculations and divine chants can substitute actual tests. Testing & Experimental validation IS a must. That’s the essence of the very first post I put in this blog article.

        “India is a land of subjugation” – Well what can I say, it started with Muslim invasion when India was at the bottom of its decline. We certainly had great empires, the likes of Ashoka & Maurya. Any empire or nation should ascend, saturate & decline – thats the natural cycle. India declined & Muslims invaded us – that forced our local leaders to collaborate with Europeans leading to European colonization & economic exploitation. Hopefully the new generation will be more proactive & assertive in its rights. Hopefully Modi wont let us down. But its all hope for now.
        —————————————————————————————————————-
        You Said:
        BTW @Itanium, you are correct about the *reasons* underlying the focusing of X-rays. However, what needs to be stated is that the mechanism employed to build-up the radiation pressure till it reaches the required threshold is the key. This mechanism (radiation channel) should be largely opaque to X-rays radiation while the radiation pressure is built up. This is one of the bottlenecks in such devices.

        My Response:
        Everyone had some nuclear sources or nuclear buddies. Americans benefited from German scientists. Russians spied on Americans. British & French got test data and assistance from Americans. Chinese got help from Soviets. Pakistanis collaborated with Chinese. North Koreans probably bought it from Pakistan..
        And we the Indians were left only with drawing boards, equations of gases and a bunch of P5s dead determined to keep India a sub-kiloton nuclear infant. We had to do everything on our own!

  13. RV says:

    FWIW, from:

    timesofindiaDOTindiatimesDOTcom/india/Modi-eyes-breakthrough-nuclear-pact-on-Japan-trip/articleshow/41077206DOTcms

    “…Japan wants explicit guarantees from India, which has not signed the international Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to strictly limit nuclear tests and to allow more intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities to ensure that spent fuel is not diverted to make bombs…”

    • Itanium says:

      I am not too worried about Japan to be perfectly honest. They need us more than we need them in view of China. And I am not even worried about intrusive inspections of nuclear facilities. Let them do inspections to their hearts content – As long as they are exporting uranium it will free up our local reserves!

    • Uranium says:

      Just to clarify what I said isn’t so crazy. You can indeed transmute Thorium to unstable U233 which is as good as U235. And India has huge thorium reserves.

  14. Seagull says:

    Bharat was bringing the issue of importing submarines under P75 I. I often wonder if we have a submarine building line at MDL,then where is the need to restart the process of import and build all over again ? 30 year submarine building plan is an approved one, this calls for all futre submarines to be built in India, why are the deviations being sought ? In the present SK programme one has to add AIP and possibly weapon configuration, one would believe that it will be quicker to use the existing line and skills rather than reinvent the wheel. Even the thought of impoting two boats under 75 I, and four to be built here of which 3 at MDL and one at HSL is possibly not a good solution, creating infrastructure in two yards is going to make submarine more expensive. Let us stick to existing line, add what IN wisheand use the existing facility, we seem to get stuck for imports which itself a long drawn and expensive proposition. Even the life extension programme which has recently been cleared for approx Rs 4500 Cr, must be done in India. The OEM must find an Indian yard and develop basic macine tools for upgrade programme, this will help going ahead with rest of the submarine’s life extension within country, add to our skills. Sending them all the way to Russia for life extension programme does not make very wise sense.

    • RV says:

      As you Sir are certainly aware, the approved 30 year building plan did not envisage a INR 1+ crore/day ls to the Indian public (FRAUD). Next, the placing of an AIP to the Scorpene is a lot more than just placing a plug. Further, one cannot wave off weapons configurations (such as VLS for the BrahMos) in as flippant a manner as your post does. This would require major modifications to the boats FCS which the Indians are not capable of doing by themselves. You have stirred a hornets nest, and for which I thank you. The entire P 75 I ambit/mandate was totally unrealistic and bogus, and this requires re-visiting and revision ASAP. Meanwhile, I would suggest that the IN gets the BrahMos firing Amur’s from Russia ASAP.

    • RV says:

      CORRECTED POST
      ________________

      As you Sir are certainly aware, the approved 30 year building plan did not envisage a INR 1+ crore/day LOSS to the Indian public (FRAUD). Next, the placing of an AIP to the Scorpene is a lot more than just placing a plug. Further, one cannot wave off weapons configurations (such as VLS for the BrahMos) in as flippant a manner as your post does. The BrahMos VLS would require not merely a plug, but also major modifications to the boats FCS which the Indians are not capable of doing by themselves. You have stirred a hornets nest, and for which I thank you. The entire P 75 I ambit/mandate was totally unrealistic and bogus, and this requires re-visiting and revision ASAP. Meanwhile, I would suggest that the IN gets the BrahMos firing AIP Amur’s from Russia ASAP.

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