India on Wednesday said its first home-built nuclear submarine was set for sea trials, as it detailed billion-dollar projects to arm its navy with warships, aircraft and modern weaponry.
The indigenous 6,000-ton INS Arihant (Destroyer of Enemies) was unveiled in 2009 as part of a project to construct five such vessels which would be armed with nuclear-tipped missiles and torpedoes.
"Arihant is steadily progressing towards operationalisation, and we hope to commence sea trials in the coming months," Indian navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma told reporters.
"Our maritime and nuclear doctrine will then be aligned to ensure that our nuclear insurance comes from the sea," Verma said, Arihant is powered by an 85-megawatt nuclear reactor and can reach 44 kilometres an hour (24 knots), according to defence officials. It will carry a 95-member crew.
The Indian navy inducted a Russian-leased nuclear submarine into service in April this year, joining China, France, the United States, Britain and Russia in the elite club of countries with nuclear-powered vessels.
Verma said 43 warships were currently under construction at local shipyards while the first of six Franco-Spanish Scorpene submarines under contract would join the Indian navy in 2015 and the sixth by 2018.
The admiral said the navy was also poised to induct eight Boeing long-range maritime reconnaissance P-8I aircraft next year.