AUKUS/QUAD/BBBW/Afghanistan/Taiwan/Ladakh/Kashmir- the great Cacaphony.
By Udit Bhaskar Roy, Kolkata
Let us cut the clutter.
There is a heated debate on the cancellation of the French submarine deal with Australia. The USA has been branded a Brutus.
Everyone is debating if India should fast track SSN project and how Russia and France can now openly help India build SSN after the backstabbing by Brutus ( USA).
The curious question is, if India can build SSBN, what stops India from building a simpler SSN?
For the understanding of all SSBN can carry Nuclear tipped ICBMs while SSN through nuclear powered carries conventional weapons. So, what is their operational significance?
SSBNs are used to launch devastating nuclear second strikes when a country is nuked.
So, they are like the Solitary Reaper in the vast oceans silently for months together, waiting for the command to launch a nuclear strike. The complexity starts here. It is one thing to build an SSBN and quite different to operate a command structure that can give commands when the nation has been nuked. With the successful trial of Arihant, one thing is clear- India has established that command structure. However, SSBNS are usually gigantic, weighing 18000-22000 tonnes. Arihant is a baby boomer at 6000 tonnes. With the Miniaturisation of the Agni series, Arihant will become more competent.
But Arihant has something unique. The speed of SSBNs is about 18 Knots but Arihant has a speed of 24 knots. This will help it to escape faster. Arihant is powered by an 83 MW nuclear reactor, whereas the US and Russian SSBNs are powered by 180-200 MW nuclear reactors. The power to weight ratio works in favor of Arihant. India is building 3rd and 4th SSBNS with a weight of 12000 tonnes. But will an 83 MW reactor be sufficient? No, but India will install a 2×83 MW nuclear reactor in each. With lighter compact ICBMS, we should be able to understand how dangerous these SSBNS will be.
However, SSNs are normally about 6000 tonnes, the weight of Arihant. Without ICBMs, they easily clock speeds of 28-32 knots. SSNs are used to hunting enemy vessels long and far from their ports as they can remain submerged like SSBN for as long as the food is available. They also escort SSBNs and Aircraft Carriers.
So, why India is not building them?
Here comes AUKUS. Australia builds SSN and India SSBNS. Their navies join hands to choke China with huge cost efficiency.
Now add Japanese Helicopter carriers being converted to Aircraft carriers with Japan ordering 45 F-35B vertical lift version aircraft from the USA. Australian SSNs can escort them too.
On the other hand, the USA is arming Taiwan to the teeth. So on paper, China can always invade and occupy Taiwan but the collateral damage will be colossal.
If QUAD throws its weight behind Taiwan in event of war even by just naval blockade, China may have to eat a humble pie.
So I feel India will neither build SSNs or the 3rd Aircraft carrier Vishal anytime soon.
Now let us shift our focus on the Western Power theatre of China.
If China attacks Taiwan stating it is their land, India can attack POK stating the same. With the military sucked towards the West, the Navy towards East and Airforce all over, PLA will have its hands full.
Post US withdrawal suicide bombings have risen sharply in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nobody knows who is killing and why?
With the Afghan economy in shambles, China will have to pump in billions of dollars in Afghanistan just to buy peace. This will put a huge strain on Chinese coffers.
Build Back Better World project is designed to slice away viable projects under BRI with cheap credit and technological support, leaving China with huge NPAs.
Joe Biden is a visionary and is bowling to the Chinese chin.
Like the Soviet Union, China could not make friends with any wealthy nation. We know what happened to the Soviet Union. Communist propaganda and false claims of superiority over the Western Power have always been a doubtful practice. However, India must focus on the Make in India drive to come out of any military block as of now Indian dependency on Russian Arms is over 70% of the arsenal and which is a very dicey condition as Russia slowly moving towards China and maybe Pakistan to Counter USA.
The USA on the other hand, was never a trusted alley for anyone historically, so dependency on the USA is not an excellent option for a country like India.
But with Afghanistan in Taliban Hands, India has to be very much slow and steady to balance the power game. Our decisive article 370 abrogation in Kashmir will lose the edge if Taliban forces start playing a dirty game of Islamic Terror in the valley.
To protect her subjects, India must build the best in class nuclear deterrent to keep the Islamic Terror of ISIS and Taliban at bay. However, peace-loving nature of India will keep the dilemma on for a long for sure, but slowly they will realize the need is paramount in this juncture of life.
Will Joe Biden repeat that history? Only history will tell.
Author: Udit Bhaskar Roy, a busy management guru with over 3 decades of business development expertise in MNCs. His lab skills during the Physics classes at Motijheel College always get reflected in his critical quantum analysis of the situation. Apart from a die-hard fan for music and classical literature, He loves to click some wonderful moments through the digital eye & lenses. Iron hand administrator, yet affectionate enough to be admired by all.