India’s Arihant patrol completion crucial but ‘triad’ not
Mains Paper 3: Internal Security
Prelims level: INS Arihant
Mains level: Security challenges and their management in border areas
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet on Monday which
read “India’s pride, nuclear submarine INS Arihant successfully completed
its first deterrence patrol!” marks the first official acknowledgement by
India that the country has now acquired a credible underwater deterrent.
The Arihant patrol is a modest but critical first step in
demonstrating the operational credibility of the submarine.
However, this single achievement does not axiomatically
lead to the conclusion that India’s ‘triad’ is now complete.
The classical triad in nuclear deterrence is an amalgam of
a complex and rigorous distillate of three different strands.
The land-based missile with a nuclear warhead, a similar
air-borne capability, and finally the sea-based under-water deterrent.
Currently only the US and Russia among the nuclear 5 have
the resources and the pedigree to claim such a capability.
The classical triad is not proving to be as cost-effective
as it was once perceived.
WMD challenges for India
India is located in a very challenging weapons of mass
destruction (WMD) region, what is euphemistically referred to as “a rough
neighbourhood” and the fact that both its nuclear capable neighbours (China
and Pakistan) are in a deep and covert WMD cooperation framework compounds
the challenge for Delhi.
The fact that Pakistan has also used its nuclear
capability to shield its terrorism investment and the strategic picture becomes
even more muddy.
India’s WMD challenge is not two separate dyads insulated
from each other but an overlapping one.
The Arihant serves to render robust the underwater
deterrent and the signalling is more relevant to the nuclear 5 about the Indian
It merits recall that China, which currently has a larger
WMD arsenal than India, acquired its nuclear weapon n October 1964.
A decade later, Beijing test-fired its first submarine
launched missile but had a series of problems in signalling its submarine
This is a domain where verifiable information is scanty
but it is understood that China carried out its first deterrent SSBN patrol
successfully in October 2015.
The missile on this boat is considered to be a sea-based
variant of the Dongfeng- 4 series with a range upwards of 5,000km.
In contrast, the Arihant is estimated to have a missile
with a range in hundreds of kms. The differential index of relative deterrence
needs little reiteration.
To place this in context and review how truly credible
and robust deterrence is maintained by a medium power, France provides a
Paris maintains four SSBNs and the first French deterrent
patrol was concluded successfully in March 1972.
Over the last 46 years, France has carried out 500 such
deterrent patrols and marked this milestone on October this year.
During this period, French SSBNs clocked 37,240 hours
underwater with the bare minimum of permissible communication.
This kind of rigour ensured that the index of strategic
assurance that France was seeking during the Cold War and in the transition to
the post Cold War strategic environment.
The nature of the threat to French sovereignty is not as
tangible, has been ensured.
The completion of the first patrol by the Arihant is cause
for satisfaction but it would be misleading to extrapolate in an expansive
manner from this first operational punctuation.
Q.1) Consider the following matches of the Indian Navy vessels with what they
are known for.
1. Aryaman and Atulya: Navy Fast Patrol Vessels
2. Tihayu : Nuclear Submarine
3. INS Arihant : Surface Torpedo launcher
4. INS Vikramaditya : Aircraft Carrier
Select the correct answer using the codes below.
a) 1 and 4 only
b) 2 and 3 only
c) 1, 2 and 4 only
d) 1, 2, 3 and 4
Q.1) Why INS Arihant is so important for India’s coastal security region? What
are the WMD challenges for India?