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Naval Buildup in Asia's Game of Thrones


India recently passed a major milestone in the development of its blue-water navy: The country’s first nuclear-powered submarine successfully activated its reactor yesterday. As The Hindu reports, the sub—named the Arihant—is the first of four, all of which of the subs will carry K-15 missiles which can be launched from underwater and carry a nuclear warhead and hit targets up to 700 kilometers away.

The Arihant makes India the second power in the region with nuclear submarines, joining China. It’s also the latest in a flurry of naval building throughout Asia: Japan recently launched its largest ship since WWII, China appears to be working on a second full-sized aircraft carrier and Australia and Japan are considering an agreement to share submarine technology of their own. India’s new nuclear submarine fleet has been under development for 25 years and seems to be aimed at least as much towards providing second-strike deterrence towards Pakistan as towards China. Nonetheless, the subs are sure to make waves in a region in the grips of a serious naval arms race.

[Nuclear submarine image courtesy of Bellona Foundation]

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  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Good, I’m happy to see the largest Democracy in the world getting stronger. The belligerent expansionist Chinese, and terrorist supporting Pakistan will be threatened by India’s powerful new weapon.

  • Joseph Blieu

    I would question the value of this against Pakistan. I don’t think Al Quida oriented rogues really care about what happens to them after their current victory for Allah. If they can accurately massively target concentrations of Chinese military capability from a stealth platform it may make Peking think twice, but it would still be nasty for India.

    • f1b0nacc1

      They already have them…they are called ‘strike aircraft’ and ‘drones’

  • tarentius

    I think that before people get all excited about the Arihant and how it changes the dynamic between India and Pakistan and India and China a little dose of reality is needed. The Arihant is basically a technology demonstrator that is based on a Russian design (Charlie II) and is way late and over budget. Activating a very small nuclear reactor hardly makes this boat operational. It hasn’t even started harbor trials. Its underwater speed of 24 knots makes it a sitting duck should it ever be operationally deployed, which is highly unlikely. India has never fired any missiles from it while the boat is submerged, hardly likely since its never left harbor. Firing missiles underwater is a technological challenge which India has yet to demonstrate. The only test of the K-15 missile has been from a pontoon platform “simulating” a submarine.
    I won’t get into the problems that may be lurking in a boat, yet to have sea trials,built by Indian firms which have demonstrated time and time again on other weapons projects that they are a far cry from being world class.
    India is a long way from having a modern underwater nuclear deterrent.

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