Vips wrote:India’s Arihant patrol completion crucial but ‘triad’ not yet complete: C UdayBhaskar.
...The Arihant patrol is a modest but critical first step in demonstrating the operational credibility ...
.... 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. ....
However, the SSBN as a platform, which is what Arihant is generically, is not meant for war-fighting but to maintain, nay impose peace in an uneasy strategic environment.....
During the Cold War, the two adversaries—the US and the former USSR maintained these silent denizens of the deep on the “prowl” 24X7 for 365 days of the year—for decades. This prowl is the deterrent patrol that the Arihant has just completed and returned to its home port Visakhapatnam where the crew was felicitated.
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.
An extremely polished article that hits several key points and does so diplomatically. Arihant's milestone is a necessary but still largely symbolic event.
SSBN are preferred because they provide second strike capability - the ability to survive and then strike back. Armed with a 750 km missile, Arihant patrolling the bay of bengal does not strike fear - yet.
India has used strategic depth, numbers and long range Road mobile canisterized ballistic missiles etc to provide elements of survivable, second strike capability against Pakistan (and to a lesser extent, China). Pakistan's development of long range missiles, enabled by China,N.Korea and Pakistani efforts will tend to degrade this over time. Indian SSBNs could qualitatively change the equations in the future.
India's air element of the triad rests on Mirage and Jaguar's and will hopefully move to the Rafale ; the obsolescence of the current platforms and the sheer strategic depth of China reduce deterrent effect.
As geography indicates, the Arihant in the BoB with a 750 km missile is not necessarily aimed at Pakistan yet. Still less yet at China. Survivability and plausibility of deterrence are also hard won over time. A submarine can still be tracked , by air, sea,underwater and seabed.
The Soviets braved the GIUK (Greenland, Iceland UK bottlenecks) gap to send their nukes off the coast of the US. However, it is a cinch, that some would have been tracked and in case of escalation, sunk. When the soviets had developed sufficiently long range SLBM, they moved to the bastion
concept. Here their submarines stayed in the nearby and friendly confines of the sea of okhotsk/barents sea, protected by ships, subs and air from enemies who would intrude and eliminate the soviet threat.
There's reasonable grounds
to suggest that India may move to such a concept, with bastions in the eastern bay of bengal. But the protection element is still scanty, leaving it vulnerable to enemy penetration. India has a few stealth surface vessels and barely a single SSN to act as bastion escort and there can be calls for carrier task force protection demands too. Nor is the us/french/uk strategy of roaming deep and wide ocean without perils for India - given increasing penetration of sophisticated Chinese submarines and other potential enemies.
China has built SSBN since 1987
and yet a deterrent patrol was talked of in 2015. The first generations of chinese nukes were noisy and did not cause sleepless nights for the US and their allies (armed with sophisticated ASW). The chinese first generation stayed close to harbor and to flash points like Taiwan. China has built up strengths in sonar including towed array
The Arihant represents the first generation Indian design. While one hopes that these are therefore as silent and stealthy as the latest western or russian submarines, it would be tough to bet 1.3 billion lives on guaranteeing it so. Especially since this is the first indigenous sub designed or built in India; further the operational track record of the Indian navy in submarines and elsewhere is rather less than perfect. When a single scrape of a spoon can lead to destruction of the boat, extremely high sustained levels of proficiency, dedication and skill are required. But these are capabilities that are hard won and slowly, and not only operationally - possibly multiple generations of design and manufacturing too will help.
Just adding extra submarines will help - it's hard to be survivable in port and there are practical & logistical limitations to being out. Further, creating the new base off Vizag and building out Andamans as a base will also help - making it more survivable and less apparent when the sub stealths out to sea. Especially compared to the confines around a major commercial port.
While the Straits of Malacca, Lombok Strait and Sunda Strait
represent choke points for india vs china, it cuts both ways - an indian submarine transiting to easy range of China's vitals also risks exposure & tracking - here and in the shallow seas near china. And these choke points are not in control of India.
A multitude of skills are called for - from excellent oceanographic maps (move without easily detectable active sonar) to excellent sensors to missiles, to doctrine, infrastructure, suitable fleet,design and manufacturing excellence,sustained operational excellence etc
In sum, effective deterrence must be hard won over time; there are no short cuts.