New Delhi, Nov 5: The successful deterrence patrol by INS Arihant significantly changes India’s strategic position in the world. With this India has truly achieved a Nuclear Triad or the ability to fire nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles from land, sea or air.
The ability to launch a nuclear strike from the depths of the ocean has advantages over the strike capabilities from land and air-based delivery platforms. A ballistic missile nuclear submarine is a strategic asset as it can fire nuclear missiles from anywhere in the ocean and remain undetected for a long time.
Considering that India is located in a hostile neighbourhood, a Nuclear Triad is a must as it acts as a credible deterrence. No country wants war, but then if it comes to that a nation ought to be prepared to retaliate effectively to ward off the enemy. The fact that India has nuclear weapons that can be fired from different platforms acts as a deterrence and keeps the enemies at bay.
“Any kind of weapon of this capability and sophistication is always a deterrent,” Defence and strategic matters expert Colonel Jaibans Singh told OneIndia.
We must keep in mind that India’s defence and strategic planning are not exactly Pakistan-centric. The efforts are aimed at being able to fight what is called a ‘two-front war’ and India has always been wary of growing proximity between Beijing and Islamabad.
“In terms of the number of submarines Pakistan has got, we are better off. But we have larger Indian Ocean region to cover. We have a problem with China, they have fair amount of naval assets. It is China which is more of a threat in the oceans. In that respect, having a nuclear submarine is of great advantage to us,” Colonel Jaibans Singh said.
[INS Arihant is back after the Patrol! PM hails ‘historic’ achievement]
The 6,000-tonne INS Arihant, which was under development for three decades under a highly classified programme, comes under the direct control of the Nuclear Command Authority headed by PM Modi. Having successfully completed the “deterrence patrol”, the INS Arihant can now be considered a fully functional underwater ballistic missile delivery platform.
The underwater warship is capable of carrying 12 K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missiles having a range of over 700 km. It can dive to 300 metres and is powered with a 83 MW nuclear power reactor.
SSBNs are usually bigger in size and are powered by a nuclear reactor, as a result they can remain submerged for months without having to surface. This allows them to travel farther and with greater stealth.
What missiles will the INS Arihant carry?
When the Arihant is finally commissioned, it will be fitted with 12 Sagarika K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The missile, however, has a strike radius of about 750 to 800 km, which some analysts say may be inadequate. The DRDO is working on two longer-range SLBMs: the 3,500-km range K-4 and the 5,000-km range K-5.
What is ‘Second strike capability’?
The ability to launch a nuclear attack from a submarine or underwater is sometimes referred to as ‘second strike’ ability.A second-strike capability is a country’s assured ability to respond to a nuclear attack with powerful nuclear retaliation against the attacker. To have such an ability is considered vital in nuclear deterrence, as otherwise, the other side might attempt to try to win a nuclear war in one massive first strike against its opponent’s own nuclear forces.
The Army’s Agni ballistic missiles and the Air Force’s fighter jets are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. And INS Arihant completes the maritime strike capability of the Navy. The development assumes significance as India has two nuclear weapons states as its neighbours.
INS Arihant was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 2016. Another nuclear submarine — the Argihat — will be commissioned in the next few years. Both Arihant and Argihat are part of a top-secret project under which India aims to have at least five nuclear submarines.