India to spend $16 billion on nuclear subs and $150 billion on stealth fighters that will be ready just in time to be obsolete

India is tripling its fleet of nuclear submarines in the country’s priciest naval expansion in five years, a move that comes as China increases naval activity in the Indian Ocean.

A cabinet committee on Tuesday approved plans to build six nuclear-powered submarines and seven stealth warships at a cost of about 1 trillion rupees ($16 billion), according to government officials familiar with the matter.

The submarines and warships will come into service from 2020 to 2030.

India plans to spend $150 billion through 2027 on new fighter jets, anti-tank missiles, helicopters and submarines. Pending purchases include 126 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault Aviation SA and 145 howitzer guns from BAE Systems Plc.

Just in time to be obsolete

The USA is shifting to drone mothership concepts because the US feels that submarines and stealth planes are being rendered less useful with new Chinese and Russian detection networks.

India’s move is widely understood to be aimed at countering China and its alleged “String of Pearls” strategy as well as increasing Chinese naval forays into the Indian Ocean.

India’s new nuclear submarines will be about 6,000-tons each.

The complex project for the nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) will take longer. After the CCS approval, technical parameters or naval staff qualitative requirements (NSQRs) will now be drafted for the over 6,000-tonne submarines.

The SSNs are likely to be constructed at the secretive ship-building centre (SBC) in Vizag, where India’s first three SSBNs (nuclear-powered submarines with nuclear ballistic missiles) are being built to complete the country’s nuclear weapons triad.

The government has basically “reworked” the 30-year diesel-electric submarine-building plan, approved by the CCS in 1999, which envisaged induction of 12 new conventional submarines by 2012, followed by another dozen by 2030. But with no new submarine inducted till now, the government has decided to go in for six SSNs and 18 conventional vessels, said sources.

Nuclear-powered submarines are much deadlier than diesel-electric submarines since they do not need to surface every few days to get oxygen to recharge their batteries. “SSNs, which usually carry only conventional missiles, can swiftly and quietly undertake long-range patrols. They can run at high speeds like 30 knots for much longer distances, hunting for targets and gathering intelligence,” said an expert.

SOURCES – Bloomberg, National Interest, Times of India

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