Tag Archives: nuclear submarines India

The Slayers of Enemies: nukes in Asia

INS Arihant during sea trials 2014 image from wikipedia

The INS Arihant, India’s first nuclear-powered submarine armed with ballistic missiles (SSBN, in military jargon)… is a 6,000-tonne boat that will provide India with the third leg of its nuclear “triad”—it already has land- and air-launched nukes….India believes SSBNs are a vital part of its nuclear strategy, which forswears the first use of nuclear weapons….Because they can readily avoid detection, SSBNs can survive a surprise attack and thus ensure India’s ability to launch a retaliatory “second strike”….Some nuclear theorists argue that submarine-based deterrents promote peace by making the other side more frightened to attack first. …

China is ahead of the game. It has a fleet of four second-generation Jin-class SSBNs and is testing JL-2 missiles to install in them. These weapons have a range of 7,400km (4,600 miles)—too short, for now, to reach the American mainland from the relative safety of the South China Sea. Pakistan, for its part, is in the early stages of a lower-cost approach. This involves arming diesel-powered subs with nuclear-armed cruise missiles with a range of 700km.

A more immediate worry to India is Pakistan’s development and deployment of smaller “tactical” nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield. These may make it more likely that any war between India and Pakistan will go nuclear. They also increase the risk of Pakistan’s weapons being used accidentally—or falling into the hands of extremists (such weapons are under the control of lower-level commanders whose professionalism and loyalty may be dubious)….

India says it will not develop battlefield nukes of its own. Instead, it will rely on the threat of massive retaliation against any use of nuclear weapons by Pakistan. Still, it may be another decade before India has a fully-fledged sea-based deterrent. Arihant’s Russian nuclear-power generator is unsuited to long patrols. Initially, the sub is due to be armed with the K-15 missile, with a range of 750km—not enough to reach big cities in northern Pakistan. Striking Chinese ones would be harder still.

Asian Nuclear Weapons: What Lurks Beneathh, Economist, Feb. 6, 2016, at 36

The Military Capabilities of India 2014

INS Chakra. Image from wikipedia

India’s first-ever dedicated military satellite, Rukmini or GSAT-7, “seamlessly networked” around 60 warships and 75 aircraft during the massive month-long naval combat exercise in the Bay of Bengal that ended on Feb. 28, 2014…Apart from GSAT-7, the exercise this year also saw the “maiden participation” of nuclear-powered submarine INS Chakra, on a 10-year lease from Russia for $1 billion, and the newly-acquired P-8I  [Boeing P-8 Poseidon] long range maritime patrol aircraft [bought from the United States].

While the over 8,000-tonne INS Chakra is not armed with long-range nuclear missiles because of international treaties like the Missile Technology Control Regime, it serves as “a potent hunter-killer” of enemy warships and submarines, apart from being capable of firing land-attack cruise missiles.  INS Chakra adds some desperately-needed muscle to underwater combat arm at a time when the Navy is grappling with just 13 ageing diesel-electric submarines, three of which are stuck in life-extension refits  As for the P-8Is, the Navy has till now inducted three of the eight such sensor and radar-packed aircraft ordered in 2009 for $2.1billion from the US. Also armed with potent anti-submarine warfare capabilities, the P-8Is are working in conjunction with medium-range Dorniers [from Germany] and Israeli Searcher-II and Heron UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to create a three-tier surveillance grid in the heavily-militarized IOR.  India, in fact, is in the process of ordering another four P-8I aircraft.

Excerpt from Rajat Pandit, Navy validates massive exercise under country’s first military satellite’s gaze, The Times of India Mar. 1, 2013

The Nuclear Submarines of India: to fire nuclear weapons from the land, air and sea

INS_Arihant. Computer  Graphics. Image from Wikipedia

The miniature reactor on board India’s first indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant has gone “critical”, which marks a big stride towards making the country’s long-awaited “nuclear weapons triad,” an operational reality.  Sources, in the early hours of Saturday, said the 83 MW pressurized light-water reactor attained “criticality” after several months of “checking and re-checking” of all the systems and sub-systems of the 6000-tonne submarine at the secretive ship-building centre at Visakhapatnam.

INS Arihant, till now, was being tested in the harbor on shore-based, high-pressure steam. With the reactor going critical now, the submarine will eventually head for open waters for extensive “sea- acceptance trials”, which will include firing of its 750-km range K-15 ballistic missiles. The sea trials will take at least another 18 months before INS Arihant can become fully operational.

When that happens, India will finally get the long-elusive third leg of its nuclear triad — the capability to fire nuclear weapons from the land, air and sea. The first two legs — the rail and road-mobile Agni series of ballistic missiles and fighters like Sukhoi 30MKIs and Mirage-2000s capable of delivering nuclear warheads — are already in place with the armed forces.

The capability to deploy submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) is crucial since India has a declared “no first-use policy” for nuclear weapons, and hence needs a robust and viable second-strike capability

Rajat Pandit, Reactor of India’s first indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant goes ‘critical’, The Times of India, Aug. 10, 2013

India’s Nuclear Submarines

India’s Nuclear Submarines

India has made another leap in its seemingly inexorable rise to military superpower by formally commissioning a Russian-made nuclear submarine.At a coastal naval base in Visakhapatnam, India’s defense minister commissioned the INS Chakra II vessel”This will be a big boost for the Indian navy,” Antony told reporters at the ceremony.  “The INS Chakra will ensure security and sovereignty of the country.”  The $1 billion, 8,140-tonne submarine, which can fire torpedoes, as well as nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, was leased by Moscow for a period of ten years…..

The Indian government is nearly finished developing its own Arihant-class nuclear-powered submarine. The leased Russian sub will likely be used to help train Indian crews on the intricacies of submarine operation and technology. Both crafts are expected to be on patrol by the end of the year.  “Our crews will get the experience of operating under water for several months at a go, unlike with the conventional diesel electric submarines, which have to come to surface at regular intervals,” a navy official told the Press Trust of India.

According to reports, India is anxious to upgrade its maritime fleet in order to compete with the Chinese Navy, which India views as a threat to, among other things, its energy security in the region and access to key shipping lanes.  India decommissioned its last Russian-made vessel in 1991.  India has promised not to arm the submarines with nuclear weapons, only cruise missiles, in honor of international non-proliferation and security treaties.

However, Pakistan is reportedly alarmed by India’s embrace of nuclear submarine technology, warning it could lead to a dangerous arms race in South Asia.  In response to Pakistan’s fears, Antony told Indian media: “India does not believe in [an] arms race. We are not a confrontationist nation. We are a peace-loving nation….but, at the same time, the armed forces will be strengthened to meet any challenge. We have a vast land border. We have more than 7500 [kilometers] of coastline… We have to protect the sea lanes of our core area of interest.”….

Only five other nations on earth — Britain, China, France, Russia and the US. — have deployed nuclear submarines.  According to the World Nuclear Association, the U.S. has, by far, the most nuclear-powered submarines, with a fleet of 71. Russia is a distant second at 21; while China is believed to have ten.

Excerpt, By Palash R. Ghosh, India Joins Nuclear Submarine Community; Pakistan Alarmed, April 4, 2012