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India, China under pressure to develop naval arsenals

The battle for energy resources in South China Sea and Indian Ocean is persuading India and China to develop their naval arsenals that have a prominent nuclear dimension.

Focused on preserving its “strategic autonomy,” India is validating its nuclear deterrent, riding on some of the recent technological advancements of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the premier body, which is steering the effort to establish an atomic deterrent.

The gap in India’s capacity to launch a retaliatory second strike, following a nuclear attack, is set to be bridged with the integration of a Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) on the hull of the domestically developed Arihant nuclear submarine, which is set to undergo sea trials.

“During the trial phase, the Arihant will test-fire the fully developed BO-5 missile as part of the sea trials,” said Avinash Chander, the head of DRDO, refereeing to the SLBM, which can strike from a moveable platform at a maximum distance of 2,000 km.

China’s response

As India builds its deterrent, China has fully developed its fourth-generation nuclear powered submarines, capable of targeting sea-going or land-based objects with torpedoes and missiles, the People’s Daily reported.

The Chinese seem to be responding with calibrated assertion, following the Pivot to Asia of the United States, which entails beefing up America’s military profile in the Asia-Pacific, including the energy rich, South China Sea.

Analysts say that the competition for energy and other resources in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, which should not spill over into open conflict, has emerged as a major factor in the establishment of stable deterrents.

In May, China deployed 80 ships, including seven warships, to protect its oil rig in the South China Sea, in an area that was hotly contested by Vietnam. On its part, naval sources said the Indian Navy aspires to broaden its footprint along the Indian Ocean, in an area that includes the resource rich East African coastline, and stretches as far as Antarctica.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 12:50:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-china-under-pressure-to-develop-naval-arsenals/article6238859.ece

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