More on MIRV :
Source - http://www.ciaonet.org/olj/sa/sa_sep00kag01.html
Admiral Menon has estimated that the modernised Chinese arsenal would comprise 596 warheads after 2010. Up to 2030, he suggests that an all-missile, land-based force should comprise five regiments of 12 missiles each (with survivability being ensured by concealment and rail-garrison mobility) and fifty percent of them should have up to four independently targetable warheads each. He feels that these would suffice to withstand a first strike by China with the maximum number of warheads that China may decide to launch and yet have enough missiles remaining to inflict unacceptable damage. He feels that some hardened silos may need to be provided "if the rate of degradation of the rail garrison missile force is judged to be too rapid." Against Pakistan, he proposes a force of 200 cruise missiles, 36 of them nuclear tipped, as cruise missiles are the least provocative. He visualises the "handing over of Indian deterrence from the land-based force to the sea-based force... over a ten year period... (to be) completed by 2030" and suggests a nuclear force of six SSBNs, each armed with 12 SLBMs. Each SSBN will carry at least 12 missiles and, in his view, as India has MIRV (multiple, independently targetable re-entry vehicles) ambitions, each missile could carry up to ten 250 to 400 Kt nuclear warheads. "Such a force would give India a warhead strength of 216 (6 x MIRV) in a pre-launch scenario and probably 380 warheads in a scenario with adequate strategic warning and with five boats deployed. This could be the entire Indian deterrence till the middle of the 21st century."
It is indeed intriguing that Admiral Menon does not visualise a need for air-delivered nuclear warheads for the Indian deterrent. He writes: 73 "With opposing airfields separated by barely 20 minutes flying time, it would be a case of use-them-or-lose-them for Pakistan, a fear reinforced by the threat of capture by armoured forces, in a country handicapped by lack of strategic depth. An airdropped bomb is perhaps the farthest from a second strike weapon on the Subcontinent. It contributes nothing to deterrence stability and, if at all the weapon is discussed in a worsening crisis, it can only be in reference to a first strike." Besides their dual-use capability and the "sunk costs" already incurred in the acquisition of nuclear capable bombers/fighter-bombers, it must be remembered that unlike ballistic missiles, aircraft are recallable even after they have taken off with nuclear weapons on board. They present a cost-effective solution to India's immediate deterrence requirements till the Agni-I and Agni-II series of ballistic missiles can be made fully operational. As for the proclivity to use-them-or-lose-them, the analogy is suggestive of flippant nuclear decision-making. There is no reason to believe that the Pakistani leadership, military or civilian, will act irrationally and set off nuclear exchanges merely because they would be worried about their forward airfields being put temporarily out of commission by the Indian Air Force. India will need air-delivered nuclear warheads in its arsenal not only against Pakistan, but also against China for a long time to come as they offer a here-and-now solution and are akin to a bird in hand.
To base the entire Indian nuclear force only on SSBNs would not be appropriate for the following reasons:
* Flexibility of targeting options for targeting individual targets with a variety of weapons platforms to achieve better strike assurance would not be available.
* The problems of communicating with submerged submarines are well known.
* It is becoming increasingly easier to locate and track submarines and by 2020-30 advanced navies such as the US Navy may be able to map and track the position of every submarine in any of the oceans.
* The Indian hinterland provides adequate depth and area to disperse widely India's ballistic missiles and the rail and road networks provide ample opportunity to keep moving the missiles at random, though with attendant problems of command and control and missile launch inaccuracies.
*The force structure would lack inter-Services balance, which in itself is not desirable.
Bharat Karnad follows what has been dubbed a 'maximalist' approach to nuclear deterrence and strongly advocates the need for megaton-class thermonuclear weapons in the Indian arsenal. He assumes that the primary and secondary target lists could contain about 60 locations that need to be hit. In order to ensure that each of these targets can be destroyed with an acceptable assurance level so that deterrence is credible, he recommends the targeting of each with four nuclear weapons, each of which has a two mile (approximately three km) CEP (circular error probableâ€”a measure of the accuracy of delivery; it denotes the distance from the point of impact to the centre of the target as the radius of the circle within which, on average, 50 percent of the missiles aimed at the target will fall). Bharat Karnad suggests that India's nuclear arsenal be gradually built up over a period of three decades to a total of 328 nuclear warheads.
The breakdown of the final figure of 328 nuclear warheads and the proposed delivery systems suggested by Bharat Karnad is as under:
* 4 x SSBNs with 48 SLBMs (presumably with a single warhead each).
* 40 x SU-30s with 40 x NGBs and 40 x N-ASMs (maximally strategic) and 30 x SU-30s with 30 x NGBs and 30 x N-ASMs (minimally tactical).
* 25 x ICBMs.
* 40 x IRBMs.
* 25 x ADMs.
* 50 reserve warheads.