After a series of setbacks, India's hunt for a nuclear submarine has finally gathered steam. For one, the new D-day for 'launching'
first indigenous nuclear submarine 'into water' for preliminary tests has been set for Aug 15.
For another, with a high-level delegation led by defence secretary Vijay Singh currently in Moscow, Russia has now promised to deliver its Akula-II class attack submarine 'K-152 Nerpa' on a 10-year lease to India by the end of this year.
The importance of nuclear submarines cannot be overstated. Unlike conventional diesel-electric submarines, which have to frequently surface to replenish oxygen to recharge their batteries, a nuclear-propelled submarine can operate underwater for virtually unlimited periods of time.
Consequently, when a nuclear-powered submarine is armed with nuclear-tipped missiles, it becomes the most difficult-to-detect-and-target nuclear-capable platform. This is important for India, which has declared ‘no first-use’ nuclear doctrine and hence must have ‘survivable and effective’ second-strike capabilities. Their induction will help India achieve its aim to have an operational ‘nuclear triad’ — the ability to deliver nukes from land, air and sea.