India's Substandard Capabilities

Discussion in 'Strategic Forces' started by pyromaniac, Aug 18, 2009.

  1. pyromaniac

    pyromaniac Founding Member

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    In India, no technological advance is too small to be celebrated nationally. The launch of a nuclear-powered submarine for underwater trials is
    an important step forward in India's quest for a minimal but credible nuclear deterrent. But India still has a long way to go. After all, it will be some years before India can deploy its first nuclear sub armed with sea-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Yet the mere flooding of the dry dock to begin the harbour trials of INS Arihant became an occasion for national jubilation, with the prime minister present at the event to hail it as "a historic milestone in the country's defence preparedness." It is as if India already has joined the club of nations with nuclear subs.

    To be sure, nuclear-powered, ballistic missile-carrying submarines (known in US argot as SSBNs) can help India bridge the yawning gap in its deterrent capabilities against China. Moreover, only such subs can underpin India's no-first use (NFU) posture. For an NFU to be credible, the country needs a second-strike capability. If a country does not have the capability to retaliate after surviving an enemy's first strike on its nuclear assets, an NFU would make no sense. Nuclear-propelled subs, with their high endurance, serve as a stealthy, least-vulnerable and cost-effective launch pad for nuclear weapons. Deterrence can be achieved with less number of missiles at sea than if they are land-based.

    Still, some harsh facts stick out. India has paid a tremendous international price for its nuclear programme without reaping the kind of security benefits it should have. And the gaps in its deterrent posture remain glaring. Indeed, among nuclear-armed states, India stands out as the country with the slowest rate of progress in deterrent development. Can it be forgotten that India's nuclear programme is the oldest in Asia and that its first nuclear test happened more than 35 years ago? Yet, India's 'credible minimal deterrent', far from being credible, has yet to deliver minimalist capabilities against China. India still does not have a single deployed missile of any type that can reach Beijing.

    Let's face it: No country in history has struggled longer to build a minimal deterrent than India. There are multiple reasons for that, including the absence of a resolute political leadership, the country's accountability-at-a-discount culture, western technology sanctions, the non-existence of independent oversight or audit, creeping politicisation of top scientists and the bureaucratisation of strategic establishments. Also, unlike Britain, China, Israel and Pakistan, India received no assistance from another nuclear power and has had to develop everything indigenously while facing a rising tide of technology controls.

    In the absence of a reliable nuclear deterrent, India remains irredeemably dependent on imports of conventional weapons, spending more than $5 billion annually on such purchases, some of questionable utility. Among important states, India is the only one that relies on imports to meet basic defence needs, to the extent that it has become the world's top arms buyer.

    Yet that record has not stopped India from being boastful. The start of Arihant's underwater trials ought to have been a quiet affair, not a national event. After all, 11 years after a thermonuclear test, that technology is yet to be weaponised. Take another example. The Agni 3 is still to be deployed, yet the DRDO chief held a news conference earlier this year to brag about the likely first test next year of the Agni 5, which is still at the design stage. The press then went ga ga, portraying the Agni 5, with a maximum range of 5,000 km, as an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) when, in reality, it is just another Intermediate-range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) in India's agonisingly incremental missile-development path.

    Which other country in the world advertises every technological move or brags about a missile still on the drawing board? To the contrary, the long-standing tradition in the nuclear world is to quietly develop and deploy capabilities. India is the lone exception to that tradition.

    Instead of launching a crash ICBM project drawing on the intercontinental-range capabilities of the space programme, India remains stuck in the IRBM arena, where its frog-like paces have taken it two decades after the first Agni test to Agni-3, a non-strategic system. In fact, if everything goes well, India's first SSBN will be deployed with a non-strategic weapon a 700-km SLBM under development. That would further underpin the regional and stunted character of India's deterrent.

    Of the three technologies nuclear propulsion, SLBM and ICBM the most complex are the first two. Developing a nuclear-weapon-strike capability from underwater is far more difficult than firing missiles from the ground. Yet, while seeking to develop an SLBM-armed nuclear sub, India still does not have an ICBM project, even on the drawing board. India wants to go down in world history as the first nation to deploy an SSBN without having developed an ICBM. 'Incredible India' indeed.

    Top Article: Substandard Capabilities - Edit Page - OPINION - The Times of India

    This guy hits the nail on the head..the ridiculous and seemingly lethargic pace of developments in India is a head scratcher. Although I have to say that the authors assertion that India does not have a ICBM on the drawing board is not exactly right..we do have something on the drawing Board, the Surya-I. Its just that its been sitting on the board for the last 15 years...
     
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  3. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    You need to read this in context of what Indian Navy Admiral Suresh Mehta said and the recent government statement about the outer limit of its missiles development. We actually don't need an ICBM to take on regional adversaries China and Pakistan.

    Agni-3SL (SLBM)
    K-15 for now (SLBM)
    K-xx in future (SLBM)

    are good enough to take care of each nook and corner of China/Pakistan.
     
  4. ironman

    ironman Regular Member

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    Then why we are developing Agni-5 and rumored Surya
     
  5. pyromaniac

    pyromaniac Founding Member

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    You cannot be more wrong with that statement. Just because we have a ICBM..or a submarine based ballistic missile would reap huge dividents. Having such an extreme ranged missile will give the admiralty more places to position the submarines. We could for instance move the sub halfway around the world while still retaining the ability to strike anywhere in China and Pakistan. I believe that is what the author is trying to get at because as of now, the 700km range for the Sagarika is outrageously small. Having such a tiny range for our second strike weapon in addition to the small complement of MIRV-less capable missile's is not exactly a strong detterent.
     
  6. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    ironman India lacks the political will to make the jump into a full fledged ICBM program, when the will comes it will take years to reach production and implementation, even extending the range of Brahmos has not been pursued as vigourously as it should be.
     
  7. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    You are completely getting it wrong buddy. Do you even know what is the range of Agni-3SL (based on Agni-3 which has been already tested) with different pay loads?.

    It is 5,200Km with 1,400Kg payload, 7200km with 1050kg and 11,600Km with 700kg payload.

    Agni [Strategic Ballistic Missile]

    K-15 and K-XX are good for short (700 km) and medium range (3000 km) targets. As simple as that. We don't have to advertise that we have an ICBM, it attracts too much unwanted attention from big powers. Time is not right for India to make any political statement that we have an ICBM. The present missiles are good enough to act as deterrent.
     
  8. pyromaniac

    pyromaniac Founding Member

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    Reading what you had written earlier I was under the impression that you were saying that India didn't need a missile with 6000km+ range.

    However, you have the range of the agni-SLBM wrong though, I believe it is only 3500-5000KM with up to 6,000km with a much reduced payload. If you want to go for a 11.6k range then you will need to cut down the Warhead yield to around 15KT. There is a graph that LF posted a while back which shows the payload in relation to the range of the missile...that is more accurate than the link you gave(It hasn't been updated for well over a year)
     
  9. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    Again you are getting it wrong. The maximum range of Agni-3SL is similar to that of Agni-3 which is 11,000 km with a payload of 700kg.

    I don't know what is your basis for 15kt warhead for a 11.5k range Agni-3SL, but that is totally wrong. Please go through the link I have posted in my last link.

    Agni [Strategic Ballistic Missile]

    A high yield thermonuclear plutonium based nuclear weapon with 200-300KT yield weigh only around 250 kg while a high yield fusion boosted fission nuclear weapon with 150-200 kt yield weight around 500 kg. AS you can see, Agni-3SL can still carry warheads to a maximum range of 11,000 km to cause enough destruction.
     
  10. pyromaniac

    pyromaniac Founding Member

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    yes, I went through your source and also noted that fact that the page has not been upgraded since January of last year..the missile is still under development and numbers are bound to change. Also, I am basing my numbers on a graph that was posted a little while back by LF...it indicated a very different capability for the warhead yield that could be carried while maximizing range.
     
  11. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    Can you post that graph here as well?. The source I posted is authority on Indian missiles as far as media is concerned, all most all media quote this very same source for any missile related articles. Numbers might change but that won't be drastic.

    You can post your sources about the warhead yields. The data about warheads I posted are based on the Pokhran-II tests conducted by India.
     
  12. pyromaniac

    pyromaniac Founding Member

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    DD, I am working on finding a link for that graph, so far no joy.

    Then again, the ATV can only carry 3-4 of these missiles and without MIRV capability, 4 of these missiles can only do so much. The other point is that if AGNI-III was to go MIRV, it would add a considerable amount of wt. thereby shortening the maximum range of the missile. That is the point both the author and I were trying to make. We do not yet have a credible long range(ICBM) MIRV capable SLBM and the fact is that we do not seem to have any such thing on the drawing board thereby severely hampering the capabilities of the sub.
     
  13. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    In the present INS Arihant we can carry 12 K-15s, so i presume with larger VLS tubes we can carry more Agni-3SL (may be 12) in future ATVs. My hunch is, the second ATV and Agni-3SL, K-XX will all come out together. It might be 5yrs down the road from now. That should be good enough to deter chinese.

    If you read the link I posted, Agni-3SL is supposed to have MIRV capabilities. Don't expect that government will make a statement on this. This is all inside info coming through unofficial sources.
     
  14. pyromaniac

    pyromaniac Founding Member

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    The one thing that concerns me though is the number of missiles that can be carried aboard. At around 6,000tons our sub is about 3 times smaller than the Ohio class subs..maybe if they go for a larger design in the next subs(we could power it using 2 reactors like the Soviet's did with the Typhoon class) we can comfortably fit a larger complement of SLBM's
     
  15. Dark Sorrow

    Dark Sorrow Respected Member Senior Member

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    DD,
    ATV can't carry 12 Agni-3 SL. The size and displacement of ATV(too small) won't permit us to load 12 Agni-3 SL.
     
  16. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    I was talking about future ATVs. Don't for a moment think that future ATVs will have same surface displacement of 6000 tons of INS Arihant. They will be bigger and better with more power. INS Arihant will be our testing bed for our future ATVs.
     
  17. Dark Sorrow

    Dark Sorrow Respected Member Senior Member

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    It is a genral practice that one a design has been finalized for a class of ship and the steel cutting then the design is not modified untill the last ship has been built.
    Chaging design in middle may have disistorous effect.
    I belive ATV is no exception to this.
     
  18. pyromaniac

    pyromaniac Founding Member

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  19. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    No need to change design, only thing to do is scale up the size, capacity and high powered nuclear reactor. Well, it will be speculation on my part but with zilch information about future ATVs, anything is possible.
     
  20. venom

    venom DFI Technocrat

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    All the defence capabilities are not made public......

    ICBM must be in Development but it might not be acknowledged as it will create tensions ...
     
  21. Payeng

    Payeng Daku Mongol Singh

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    That's because India is not the member of the declared nuclear club of 5, every thing have to be started right from scratch without assistance and after non proliferation and test ban treaty was signed. No other nation is known to have a successful nuclear arsenal after these treaty, India's quest for deterrence is justified considering lack of resource and technological barriers.

    yes, it is a historic milestone to be celebrate as was the the time when operation Shakti was performed, even at that time our PM declared 'India as a Nuclear state' that's justified.

    what does the author mean, we performed our first nuclear test only after the test band treaty was signed and China already had performed tons of nuclear test every where in the atmosphere, we are not the oldest to have a nuclear test in asia!!



    INS Arihant is following the right step, this is what the Chinese also did

    INS Arihant shares displacement more or less similar to the Xia-class SSBNs, K-15 description is also close to JL-1 SLBM. I believe future SSBNs would be larger in displacement and have longer range missiles, ATV-1 is only a test bed as the Type 092 was.

    We need to learn to walk before we run, again comparing India with xyz wouldn't be right, here we face a totally different set of circumstances, just to say how many nations had successfully build a naval reactor other than the nuclear-5, who have exclusive leverage upon nuclear trade and tech. not to mention the number of test they performed, if a 700 km SLBM program is in existence then it sought to be a testbed for SLBMs, as we had a 700km Agni-I before we have a 5000km+ missile.

    This report will throw some light: second nuke-sub soon.
     

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