India completed its nuclear triad by inducting the first indigenously built strategic nuclear submarine INS Arihant into service. It was formally commissioned by Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba in August, 2016. With this, India has become 4th country in world to have status of ‘nuclear triad’ power, after the US, Russia, China (*)
What is Nuclear Triad?
In simple terms, a ‘nuclear triad’ power is a country that has the capability to launch nuclear weapons from land, air and sea. Technically, a nuclear triad refers to the nuclear weapons delivery of a strategic nuclear arsenal which consists of three components:
- Air force: Strategic bomber planes capable of delivering nuclear bombs
- Surface: Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)
- Sea: Submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
Importance of Nuclear Triad
The purpose of having a three-branched nuclear capability is to significantly reduce the possibility that an enemy could destroy all of a nation’s nuclear forces in a first-strike attack, this, in turn, ensures a credible threat of a second strike, and thus increases a nation’s nuclear deterrence.
In simple terms, Nuclear Triad status will help to prevent use of Nuclear Weapon against India, in case of War. How?
Well, in case of war, if any enemy drops Nuclear bomb on India or it launches Nuclear missile against India, it knows that, because India is nuclear triad, it can also launch nuclear weapons from sea and thus enemy state would also be eventually destroyed. This prevents use of nuclear weapons and hence, triad is called as Nuclear Deterrence.
This Second Strike capability is particularly important for India as it had committed to a ‘No-First-Use’ policy as part of its nuclear doctrine.
INS Arihant: Fact File
- INS Arihant, which means ‘slayer of enemies’, is a 6,000-tonne SSBN (ship submersible ballistic, nuclear submarine), that can carry ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads. It is first indigenously built nuclear-powered submarine.
- It is powered by 83 MW pressurised light water nuclear reactor with enriched uranium fuel.
- The Arihant project, earlier known as the advanced technology vessel (ATV), has been under development since 1998. It was finally launched at the headquarters of India’s Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam, on July 2009 by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and was built at an approximate cost of $3 billion.
- The submarine was jointly developed by the Indian Navy, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- It will be armed with the K-15 Sagarika missiles with a range of 750 km and eventually with the much longer range K-4 missiles being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation.
Advantage of Nuclear powered submarine:
Conventionally, Submarines are powered by diesel, so they need oxygen for burning this diesel fuel. Hence, they need to come up to surface again and again for taking oxygen. This hinders their stealth capability and increases probability of spotting. Unlike conventional submarines, a nuclear submarine:
- Works on energy derived from nuclear fission and does not require large amount of oxygen. Hence, they can stay underwater for a much longer duration and need to resurface only for stocking of consumables such as food.
- Nuclear submarines can also dive much deeper and can stay in water, undetected by enemy nations.
- Further, they can operate at higher speeds for much longer duration than conventional submarines.
Apart from Arihant, India currently operates Russian-origin nuclear-powered submarine INS Chakra, which it leased for 10 years from Russia in 2012.
- INS: Indian Naval Ship
Wikipedia says 4 Nuclear Triad countries however other sources say 6:
Well the Issue is:
- France was once a nuclear triad but not currently as it disables submarine based weapons post break up of USSR.
- UK didnot develop land based nuclear missile delivery system.