Submarine strategy: Undersea naval prowess is shaping strategic battles, India mustn’t lag behind  

What is the news? 

Recently, Australia, US and UK held trilateral security pact named as AUKUS. Under this pact, they are delivering nuclear-powered submarines to Canberra. The aim of the security pact is to counter China’s maritime power in the Indo-Pacific region. 

With China as the focus, the strategic-military power plays of the coming decades will be based on naval power, with submarines playing a vital role.

How submarines play a key role? 

In coming decades, strategic military power will be based on naval power. Hence, to become a naval power, submarines play a vital role.

Submarines can be great levelers in asymmetric military scenarios due to their long range, stealth, strike and force projection capabilities. With nuclear submarines these factors are multiplied further, enabling longer operational periods. 

That is why, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and Taiwan which are facing the brunt of Beijing’s military intimidation are inducting submarines to counter Chinese aggression 

What is the present status of India’s underwater fleet? 

First, India has natural geographic advantages. Hence, high seas are the only domain in which India can checkmate China. But, India’s underwater fleet lacks the required to counter China.

Second, today the Indian navy has 12 old diesel-electric submarines with only half of them operational at any given point of time.  

Third, the force has inducted just three of the six projected French Scorpene submarines. It has only one nuclear-powered submarine with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, the INS Arihant. In contrast, China already has the world’s largest navy with 350 warships, including 50 conventional and 10 nuclear submarines. We need to mitigate the gap to counter China and dominate Indian Ocean. 

What is the target that we need to achieve? 

India should have at least 18 conventional submarines, six nuclear attack submarines and four nuclear submarines with nuclear missiles to become a naval power.

We are nowhere near that target. To achieve its ambitions in the Indo-Pacific, the defence bureaucracy must quickly address this delay. 

Source: This post is based on the article “ Submarine strategy: Undersea naval prowess is shaping strategic battles, India mustn’t lag behind “ published in The Times of India on 21st September 2021. 

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