Photo: pulkitsinha via flickr
Within the next 18-months, India will commission it’s first self-built nuclear submarine, complete with ballistics missiles fitted for nuclear warheads.Currently only a handful of elite countries have the ability to launch nuclear ballistics missiles from beneath the water: US, Russia, France, China and the UK. But India’s got it’s foot in the door.
The country’s first nuclear sub, the 6,000-ton behemoth named INS Arihant (or “Destroyer of Enemies”) is just one of many late steps the country has taken to keep up with China in an accelerating arms race. Analysts consider the Asia-Pacific Area of Operations to be of intense focus for many global players.
India’s sub is part of it’s Advanced Technology Vessel program, a program they consider vital to future nuclear deterrence in the region. India has a “no first strike policy,” which means their launch capabilities must remain intact for return fire, a nuclear sub gives them that extra dimension.
But it won’t be commissioned until 2012, and for a Navy plagued with delays, that might not be a realistic target.
Dean Nelson of The Telegraph reports that India’s aim is for a “nuclear triad,” having nuclear strike capabilities from sea, land and air.
“Given our unequivocal ‘no first-use commitment’, a retaliatory strike capability that is credible and invulnerable is an imperative,” Indian Admiral Nirmal Verma, the navy commander, told The Telegraph. “Our maritime and nuclear doctrines will then be aligned to ensure our nuclear insurance comes from the sea.”
Along with the Arihant, India has okayed spending necessary to complete four more.
The Admiral assured many doubters that the first sub will be launched on time. His assurance comes just days prior to an announcement of a three year delay to their first locally built aircraft carrier. Leaders did not expect the announcement about the carrier, the INS Vikrant, even though the boat has suffered many delays along the way.
India reports the delays are due to logistical issues, but also to inept contractors. The firm was reportedly incapable of building a part of the engine called “the gearbox.”
India hired a foreign firm to finish the task, but it was only one of many problems, including logistical delays on behalf of Russian companies.
India then had to take the ship out of dry dock, to bring another carrier in for refurbishment and deployment. Consequently that boat was formerly of the Russian Navy, sold to India at discount price, then refitted and renamed.
These developments in India’s navy come on the heels of recently announced increases in China’s defence spending, prompting analysts to speculate on an impending arms race in the Asia-Pacific theatre.
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