Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and fast combat support ship USS Sacramento of the US Navy
By Brig Arun Bajpai
The total neglect in the ten years of UPA rule is the reason Indian Armed forces especially the submarine arm of the Indian Navy is finding it difficult to deal with double trouble from China-Pakistan Combine.
The new NDA Government will have to find ways to pump in additional funds in the Defence budget more so for the Navy and it submarine arm. India badly needs nuclear submarines to complete its TRIAD.
The Navy takes maximum time to build.
When the UPA Government came to power, India had 19 diesel-electric submarines and one nuclear-powered submarine was to join Indian navy on lease from Russia.
Today after ten years Indian Navy is left with just 13 old and rickety submarines that no one can guaranty will surface if they had to dive under the sea. Out of these 13 submarines also only 50% are serviceable at any point of time. The Scorpene submarine project to build six submarines at the Mazagaon docks Mumbai with French assistance is also running four years late.
The first Scorpene will join Indian Navy sometime in late 2016. The er Modi government just sanctioned six new stealth submarines to be built indigenously as per ‘Make in India’ initiative with foreign collaboration under Project 75 of the Navy. These submarines will be equipped with land attack missiles and Air independent propulsion system. The first of these submarines will join Indian Navy, not before the year 2026.
Chinese Yuan Class attack submarine. China has more attack submarines than the U.S. Navy
In contrast lined up against these six Indian rickety operational submarines is 65 submarines of China with almost a dozen nuclear powered and five modern submarines of Pakistan with eight more contracted from China.
The only silver lining in this atmosphere is that India’s first nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant has now entered Bay of Bengal. It’s sea trials will last about a year. This deadly weapon system will join Indian navy by Dec this year making India the sixth country in the world after US, Russia, China, France, and UK to possess an indigenous nuclear-powered submarine.
No country can claim to be a nuclear power till it also posses Triad. Triad means the capability to launch a nuclear strike over all three dimensions – Land Sea and Air.
As on date, India is capable of launching airborne nuclear strikes with the help of its Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter planes and by its land based Agni series of missiles. The main problem is that the enemy knows that these planes can take off only from the air bases.
So a nuclear capable country like Pakistan which does not have a no first use nuclear policy as India has, can strike at these air bases and destroy the counter strike capability right at the beginning. Even if it has not done so and our fighters have taken off, they can still be shot down by the Pakistani air defence systems and their fighter aircrafts.
The land based Agni series of nuclear-capable missiles suffer from a similar problem. Agreed that they are land mobile and can be moved from one place to another still, we can not underestimate Pakistani intelligence. Besides to ready and fire these missiles it takes time. Though they have the advantage that once fired neither Pakistan nor China posses anti-missile technology so they cannot be shot down. However, we are still at the disadvantage because of our declared no first use nuclear strike policy.
Chinese ballistic missile submarine. China is constructing an underground nuclear submarine base capable of hiding up to 20 nuclear submarines from spy satellites near Sanya, Hainan
All these problems get taken care off once Arihant joins active service in Dec this year. One can say with confidence that this will also end the current Pakistani mischief of using jihad from its soil against India under protection from its nuclear shield that is going on since 1988.India has already readied two more Arihant class nuclear-powered submarines that will join the Indian Navy in close succession. This submarine can carry twelve Sagarika nuclear-capable missiles each which have a range of 750 km and can cover large portions of Pakistan. These submarines are very silent, they can dive very deep under the sea, they can move very fast very silently and they do not have to surface to recharge their batteries as the conventional submarines do. In other words, they are impossible to detect.
Now imagine, at any point of time two Arihant sitting deep undersea about 50 to 100 km from the Pakistani coast in Arabian Sea in ready to fire mode with 24 nuclear-capable missiles targeting all major cities of Pakistan. With this sword of domicile hanging on Pakistani neck at 24×7 basis will any Pakistani General, however, mad he may be, dare to rattle his nuclear arsenal any time India decides to teach Pakistan a lesson? Till now India was restrained despite being a nuclear power itself because of the Pakistani nuclear shield.
Pakistani Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Mohammad Asif Sandila and Lt Gen (Retd) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai Director General Strategic Plans Division offering dua after inaugurated the newly constructed Headquarters of the Naval Strategic Force Command
This shield Pakistan used to blunt Indian superiority in conventional arms. So on the Pakistani side in all cases of cross-border infiltration, only jihadis died who in any case are cannon fodder for the Pakistani army. However after the advent and deployment of Arihants, this nuclear shield of Pakistan will be blunted, and then India can damage the real culprits the Pakistani army. This will also take away the bite from the Pakistan developing tactical nuclear missile Babur with 60 km range to stop the Indian armoured offensive in India’s Cold Start Doctrine. India has already made it clear to Pakistan that any use of tactical nuclear missile by Pakistan will be considered as a nuclear attack and will be retaliated with full might. India now must go all out to build more of these nuclear-powered submarines and not just five which has been planned.
India has taken a refurbished Russian Akula class nuclear submarine on lease from Russia. Talks are on to take another such nuclear-powered submarine on lease. This must be done at the earliest. Agreed that India can not mount its long range nuclear capable missiles on these submarines due to international restrictions but we should not forget the age-old dictum that ‘All is fair in love and War’.