India making Bay of Bengal into a nuclear launchpad – Asia Times

India making Bay of Bengal into a nuclear launchpad - Asia Times

When finished, India may build a submersible center in the Bay of Bengal to serve as a haven for its sea-based nuclear deterrent against Pakistan and China.

This month, the Indian Defense Research Wing ( IDRW) reported that India’s optimistic Project Varsha, a sprawling 1, 680- acre marine center, is quickly taking shape on the Eastern Coast at Rambilli. New satellite images show a quick development, which indicates that the project is on track to finish in the designated time frame.

A fleet of over 12 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines ( SSBNs ) are housed at Project Varsha, a strategic naval base that was built. A vast underground complex, which satellite imagery reveals, includes tunnels thought to be submerged pens, is its most impressive feature.

The facility’s underwater temple promises to safeguard India’s SSBNs from unauthorized access from the skies while also providing essential help facilities for nuclear architectural. Above floor, the building of piers suggests the capability to handle a variety of area vessels, enhancing the base’s functional flexibility.

The place of Project Varsha makes it advantageous strategically for the American Navy to be closer to the Indo-Pacific’s crucial shipping routes. This close proximity makes it easier to collaborate with the Bhabha Atomic Research Center ( BARC ), India’s nuclear powerhouse, and allows for a quick response to regional threats.

Project Varsha is designed to improve considerably India’s marine deterrence, allowing the deployment of atomic- military submarines from a safe, underwater base. This affirms India’s commitment to upholding its status as a main maritime power and ensuring the country’s security.

INS Varsha does protect India’s underwater assets beneath. Image: X Screengrab

To combat the two threat that Pakistan and China pose, India wants to include four SSBNs. Now, India has one lively SSBN, the Openings Arihant, which is armed with 12 K- 15 underwater- launched ballistic missiles ( SLBM ) with a comparatively small collection of 700 meters. India programs to commission its next SSBN, the INS Arighat, by the end of this year, about seven years after its launch.

India’s second SSBN, codenamed S4, is under development and is believed to be larger than its predecessors. S4 may have half the SLBMs of Outs Arihant and INS Arighat, according to satellite pictures. It could have 24 K- 15 SLBMs or 8 K- 4 SLBMs with a range of 3, 500 km.

India may possibly finish the S4 this year before setting up sea trials. Following that, India’s third SSBN will likely be based on the S4, with varying changes over its father.

However, Yogesh Joshi points out in a January 2019 War on the Rocks article that India’s sea-based nuclear deterrent will not have any credibility if it does n’t develop intercontinental range SLBMs. &nbsp,

In accordance with that assessment, Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda word in a Bulletin of the Atomic Professionals post from July 2022 that the K-15 SLBM’s collection may only allow it to target southern Pakistan, and that its SSBNs may not be able to target China without passing through the Malacca Strait.

Nevertheless, India is now developing the K- 5 SLBM with a range of 5, 000 kilometers, although the project is highly classified according to proper and security considerations. &nbsp,

Pakistan and China pose a dual nuclear threat to India, with the latter increasingly finding common ground in a” threshold alliance” with Pakistan, a relationship that is more formal than just general defense cooperation. &nbsp,

Pakistan’s first China-built Hangor class submarine, an export variant of the Type 039B Yuan-class SSK, was launched in May 2024, according to Asia Times. In April 2015, Pakistan signed a contract with China for eight submarines, with four built in China and the remainder in Pakistan.

If Pakistan equips its Hangor class submarines with nuclear-tipped Babur-3 submarine-launched cruise missiles ( SLC M), which have a 450-kilometer range, it will have a significant deep strike capability.

Pakistan’s use of sea-based tactical nuclear weapons would help counterbalance India’s conventional military might while preventing potential preemptive strikes from its nuclear arsenal. Additionally, it would enable Pakistan to maintain a credible second- strike capability.

While China has been a primary enabler of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, it may opt to maintain a safe distance from Pakistan’s ambitions considering the threat of nuclear proliferation.

Chinese nuclear weapons and missile technology have flown from Pakistan to Libya, North Korea, Iran, and possibly others, which is not in China’s best interest because more countries with nuclear weapons in Asia and other regions could stymie the global balance of power. &nbsp,

In a March 2015 Carnegie Endowment for Regional Peace report, Iskander Rehman claims that Project Varsha will provide better cover than the Arabian Sea’s congested waters, making it possible for India to use the Bay of Bengal as an SSBN bastion against Pakistan and China. &nbsp,

Rehman points out that Project Varsha’s submarine base will allow India’s SSBNs to enter the Bay of Bengal without satellite or aircraft detection.

The Bay of Bengal will be protected by surface assets, including India’s upcoming third aircraft carrier and its escorts, giving an untapped location for India to launch SLBMs at Pakistani and Chinese targets.

Rehman says that India’s nuclear tensions will most likely result from the use of conventional assets to penetrate each other’s nuclear bastions, although it is unlikely for China’s SSBNs to move into the Bay of Bengal because they would have to traverse the congested Malacca Strait to do so.

China is preparing the ground for the operation of its submarines in the Indian Ocean. Image: Facebook

The Indian Ocean was the location of three spy ships in the Indian Ocean for upcoming submarine and naval deployments, according to The Hindustan Times ‘ report from April 2024.

According to a report from the Hindustan Times, one of those ships, the Xiang Yang Hong 01, tested a high-end autonomous underwater vessel. According to the report, the vessel can conduct oceanographic surveys and oceanographic surveys for submarine operations while subsea-based at depths of up to 12 kilometers for three months.

China’s SSBNs may be threatened by India’s growing naval presence in the South China Sea as it seeks to establish a base for its SSBN fleet in the region’s disputed maritime area.

China’s new JL- 3 SLBM’s range of 7, 200 kilometers will allow it to use the South China Sea as a bastion for its SSBN fleet. This capability will make it possible for its SSBNs to travel through chokepoints like the Miyako Strait and the Bashi Channel to the Pacific’s open waters and place the US in SLBM range.

As part of an operational deployment to Southeast Asia, which included port calls in Malaysia and Singapore, a flotilla of three Indian warships, including the destroyer INS Delhi, the anti-submarine corvette INS Kiltan, and the fleet tanker INS Shakti, made a report last month from Newsweek.