Despite $3 Billion Russian Nuke Submarine Deal, India Will Remain Vulnerable to Pakistan’s 2nd Strike Capabilities

Posted on Posted inPakistan

“Imagine, (India’s) $54 billion defense budget against (Pakistan’s) $10 billion budget,” the Pakistani defense expert said.

PKONWEB Report (New York/Islamabad) — India has reportedly signed a $3 billion deal to lease a third Russian nuclear-powered submarine for 10 years, giving Delhi a boost in the Indian Ocean against arch-rivals Pakistan and China, but will it dent Pakistan’s nuclear triad strength and capabilities? Possibly no.

The deal— which according to media reports took months to negotiate — surfaced in the Indian media as tensions ran high between Delhi and Islamabad following their biggest standoff in years.

An Indian defense ministry spokesman declined to confirm the agreement to AFP but the reports said that the submarine, the third India has leased from Russia, would be delivered not before 2025– 7 years later, giving Delhi possibly a boost then in the Indian Ocean and not in the near future against arch-rivals Pakistan and China.

By that time the humongous Pakistan China Economic Corridor will be operational providing China the shortest shipping access to the Middle East via Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea-much to the chagrin of India which rivals ‘iron brothers’ China and Pakistan.

Also Read: Is India’s Nuclear Sub ‘Arihant’ Modi’s Show and Tell Ahead of Elections?

For India, China and Pakistan pose economic and geostrategic challenges, as Delhi thought leaders vie to make India a member of the heavyweights club– by 2030. And having two ‘all-weather friends’ in geoeconomic plus geostrategic bonhomie in its backyard are flies in Delhi’s ointment.

The latest newsbreak seems to fit PM Modi’s election strategic timeline also–January thru April, with the expectation that it would add salt and pepper to the already hot and spicy campaigns his camp managers and Modi himself are running countrywide.

Also concurrent within this timeline is Delhi’s upping the ante in its ongoing tensions with its western neighbor Pakistan last month, some analysts say–the Pulwara attack staged in occupied Kashmir on Valentine’s Day (Feb 14) followed weeks later by a botched attempt to carry out “non-military” strike inside Pakistan territory–it fell off the horse though. However, the two maverick moves by Modi’s team raised some nationalist sentiments among his supporters across the country.

The subsequent newsleak of the Russian sub apparently is meant to bolster sentiments as their delivery is still east of the morning break.

A somewhat similar perception management of a “strong India” was also tried in November.

Media reports then appeared that India’s first nuclear “deterrence patrol” using INS Arihant– its first indigenously built nuclear powered submarine carrying ready to fire ballistic missiles (SSBN) that can hit targets 750km away, is in fact a show and tell with a “non-functional” Arihant.

Earlier, India had said it set sail INS Arihant amid absence of any news that a formal commissioning ceremony was held for the Arihant, while a report in October 2016 said the Arihant was commissioned in a secret ceremony by Indian Navy chief.

Subsequently, a report said Arihant had run into a major accident during one of the sea trials in 2017–this report was corroborated by a senior Pakistani security and defense expert (in November) speaking on condition of anonymity to PKonweb.

According to him, Arihant suffered a major incident in 2017 where the inside of the submarine was flooded by sea water and as a result its inside suffered seawater rusting. The vessel was undergoing major repairs since then. “The submarine must have just completed the repairs and the current voyage can attest to being a sea trial,” the official said.

“The submarine needs a long series of trials before it becomes operational,” he added.

Delhi still needs to make its presence felt in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) particularly in the Arabian Sea, even if it’s just cheer-leading announcements in clockwork precision.

Assuming Arihant is up and running now, Arihant still does not pose a real challenge though.

According to some analysts, once operational, at risk to its own safety though, Arihant can attempt to target Karachi and Gwadar. The limited range of the missiles would however require the Indian SSBN to come close to the Pakistani mainland where it will be targeted for sure by Pakistan’s diesel-electric attack submarines specialized for anti-submarine duties (SSKs).

India’s indigenously built nuclear-powered ballistic submarine INS Arihant off Visakhapatnam.

The Pakistani defense expert said in November that “India will need 3 to 4 nuclear-powered ballistic missile-carrying submarines (SSBNs) to have one on deterrent patrol all the time.”

According to him, on Indo Pakistan scenario, with such close proximity and availability of a large number of land and air delivered nuclear weapons, Pakistan will always have a second strike capability. “What will concern me more, is the availability of a (Indian) nuclear attack submarine which can pose long range persistent threat to our shipping.”

That’s almost 5 years away said the expert which some analysts–both Indian and Western– concur with.

In many of the areas relating to missiles and submarines, India however remains behind China, while Pakistan with the help of China continues to nip at Delhi’s heels. Indeed, these analysts say that in terms of the numbers of nuclear weapons, Pakistan remains ahead of India.

“Imagine, (India’s) $54 billion defense budget against (Pakistan’s) $10 billion budget,” the Pakistani defense expert said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *