Skip to main content

India: The Hunt for an Indian Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile

Source: Stratfor
Stratfor's Free Intelligence Reports

September 11, 2007 20 56 GMT


Indian media reported early Sept. 11 that India had successfully tested a medium-range submarine-launched ballistic missile. The Ministry of Defense, which has no such capability, denied the reports. However, some preliminary subsystem development in that area appears to be under way.


The Indian Ministry of Defense was forced to deny reports in the country's press Sept. 11 concerning the successful test of a medium-range submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). No such test was conducted, and the false reports appear to be exaggerations of current tests on relevant subsystems. An SLBM capability is still on the distant horizon for New Delhi -- but it is on the horizon.

Much work toward the technical ability to launch missiles from submarines is indeed under way. Indian Defense Minister A.K. Anthony announced Sept. 5 that the submarine-launched variant of the BrahMos supersonic anti-ship missile was ready for testing, but it is too large to be launched from the 21-inch torpedo tubes found on all of India's submarines. (The BrahMos began as a joint venture with Moscow, and Russia could assist with this testing although the project has matured to the point where Russian assistance is not required.)

Of course, launching an anti-ship missile out of a torpedo tube is hardly the same thing as developing an SLBM. And while India has significant missile technology experience (including a pair of domestically designed and built satellite launch vehicles), SLBM development is a different animal. Russia continues to struggle with its latest SLBM, the Bulava, and Moscow has far more experience than New Delhi in the matter. Even the United Kingdom relies on the United States for its SLBMs (U.S. assistance with both London's first SLBM and the ballistic missile submarine that carried it was instrumental in the Royal Navy's sea-based deterrent).

Meanwhile, the other half of the system -- the submarine -- is no further along. India's Advanced Technology Vessel -- the proof-of-concept vessel for domestically designed and built submarine nuclear propulsion -- has been plodding along for more than two decades. Cramming a nuclear reactor into a submarine is no small task. But the real trick, as the Chinese have discovered, is making it run so quietly that it functions as more than an extremely pricey underwater noisemaker. There are concerns about the acoustic signature of China's second generation of nuclear submarines, and Beijing started two decades before New Delhi, which has yet to produce its first generation.

Nevertheless, there is little doubt that India does intend to move in this direction. A navalized variant of the well-established Prithvi missile, the Dhanush, has been tested at sea from the modified stern flight deck of a destroyer since 2000. A far more practical and operationally viable variant -- using solid propellant -- began testing in 2004. This may very well mature into a poor-man's sea-based deterrent.

There are also persistent rumors that a Russian Akula nuclear-powered attack submarine whose construction began in 1986 is slated to be completed this year and could be leased -- perhaps with one of her sister ships -- to India.

The Akula, though not a ballistic missile submarine, would teach the Indians a great deal about nuclear propulsion. The improved Akula is thought to be about as quiet as an improved Los Angeles-class sub. This leasing would provide not only valuable design insight, but also operational experience with a nuclear reactor at sea.

Ultimately, an Indian ballistic missile submarine fleet is, speaking optimistically, at the very least a decade away. But as a strategic objective for a country that intends to maintain a credible and survivable nuclear deterrent over the long term, the development of that fleet is not only prudent, it is necessary.

About Stratfor

Stratfor is the world’s leading private intelligence company delivering in-depth analysis, assessments and forecasts on global geopolitical, economic, security and public policy issues. A variety of subscription-based access, free intelligence reports and confidential consulting are available for individuals and corporations.


Popular posts from this blog

Pakistani firm whose chemicals were used to kill US troops seeks subsidy for Indiana plant

By Jennifer Griffin, Justin Fishel
Published March 22, 2013

A Pakistani fertilizer maker whose chemicals have been used in 80 percent of the roadside bombs that have killed and maimed American troops in Afghanistan is now seeking U.S. taxpayer subsidies in order to open a factory in Indiana. 
The request appears to be on hold pending further review, but the situation has stirred outrage in Congress, where some accuse the Pakistani government of halting efforts to clamp down on the bomb-making. 
For the past seven years, the U.S. government has known that the raw material calcium ammonium nitrate, or CAN, is making its way across the border into Afghanistan where the Taliban use it to fuel their most deadly weapons, namely the improvised explosive device. IEDs have long been the number one killer of U.S. and coalition troops. 
The material largely comes from Pakistani fertilizer maker the Fatima Group. But the Pakistani government has stymied attempts by the Pentagon to stop the flow of the…

Menon meets Karzai, discusses security of Indians

Kabul/New Delhi/Washington, March 5 (IANS) India Friday said that the Feb 26 terror attack in Kabul will not deter it from helping rebuild Afghanistan as National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon met Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul to review the security of around 4,000 Indians working in that country.

Menon, who arrived here Friday morning on a two-day visit, discussed with Karzai some proposals to bolster security of Indians engaged in a wide array of reconstruction activities, ranging from building roads, bridges and power stations to social sector projects.

The Indian government is contemplating a slew of steps to secure Indians in Afghanistan, including setting up protected venues where the Indians working on various reconstruction projects will be based. Deploying dedicated security personnel at places where Indians work is also being considered.

Menon also met his Afghan counterpart Rangin Dadfar Spanta and enquired about the progress in the probe into the Kabul attack in…

Revathi from Karnataka got selected in Civil Services

Miss. Revathi from Karnataka got selected in the civil services became IAS. Above is the picture of her house. She is the role model for everyone. Let's congratulate her.