#AskFINS : Question about Nuclear Submarine INS Arihant

Saurabh Tripathi asked “In my view India needs 4-5 SSBN at least for deployment in BoB with a missile of range 8000+km but INS Arihant is the only deployable sub with K4 range of only 3500km, what is the navy’s plan for it and why such delay between subs in the same class?”

Following is the answer by Dr Prabhakaran Paleri

Caveat : If there is anything more difficult than asking a question, then it is answering it. There are reasons. One of them is that the onus of correctness is with the answerer. Hence, ab initio, I must submit that the answers below can not only be wrong but also changeable when more information flow. Therefore please take them as time tuned for now.
It is not clear how you arrived at the conclusion that India needs 4-5 SSBN.  I know you are not sure.  If you were sure you would have been ‘definite’ on the number. What does it mean “at least?”  Decisive strategic thinking doesn’t provide any flexibility in conclusion. It has to be surgically definite. Next is deployment in BoB (Bay of Bengal). Why should they be deployed in BoB? Why not anywhere in the World Ocean? Next is the statement on range. Every missile will have range limitations. It depends on design and conditions. It can be 8000km (such ranges are measured in nautical miles). But it cannot be 8000+km. Arihant is mentioned here as the only deployable sub with K4 range of only 3,500km (nm?). Such statements that are not definite to the point underlie your questions. Hence a critical answer is difficult.
The questions point out that “Arihant” is not sufficient for India. You desire to know what the navy will do with it. You also stated why “such” delay between subs in the same class? But the term “such delay” is not specified.
Doesn’t matter, though. The question comes out of national pride and inquisitiveness to know. That itself is an Arihant achievement.  ‘Arihant’ by itself is a big story comparable with a comet with a long tail extending into the past.
I cannot explain the plan of the navy because I simply don’t know. Yes, there was delay. I will also won’t explain the “why” and “what” of it for the same reason.  I do not indulge in the guessing game. But, forecasting? Yes.

Hence let me ask a few questions to myself and answer.

      1. Do we need “INS Arihant?”
      Yes, very much.

2. Do we need more?
Yes, very much.
3. How many and what type/class?
I do not know. This needs to be studied.
4. Why we need such inventory?

  • For strategic as well as competitive advantage in national governance
  • For geostrategic advantage
  • To improve deterrence capability
  • To develop indigenous technology
  • For economic growth and development (“How” is not explained here.)
  • For global techno leadership
  • For national pride and confidence
  • For innovative advantage
  • For developing national human competence and improving human dividend value
  • For second strike capability (If you so desire, you can “strike” off this statement)
  • For the overall naval competence, discipline and pride
  • As supporting technology platform

5. How the Navy will handle the sub?
I do not know, but I know our Navy knows it; they are competent.
6. Is there any delay in building/acquiring such inventory?
Delay is in the perception.  As long as it doesn’t jeopardise the governance efforts towards NSmax (national security maximisation, where national security is not just military security of the nation but the overall well being of its people (see Paleri. P (2008): National Security: Imperatives and Challenges).
Dr. Prabhakaran Paleri served as the 16th Director General of Indian Coast Guard. Scholar in national security subjects, Dr Paleri has written various volumes on national security & strategy. His book ‘National Security: Imperatives and challenges’ is a must read for young scholars

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