Nuclear submarines for India? Evolving strategic reality in Indo-Pacific may make India go the Australia way

By Hindustan Times

The Australian decisive recognition of strategic reality in the Indo-Pacific by pitching for nuclear attack and not diesel submarines has forced India and Japan to rethink their naval posture in the wake of the belligerent Chinese navy.

While Indian national security planners are now seriously thinking of upgrading its sub-surface naval capacities, the successor of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will have to take a call on the war renunciation clause enshrined in article nine of their constitution.

Even though China is one of the largest trade and investment partners of Japan, the latter along with India are the only two Quad powers who have a land dispute with Beijing. For the US it is a superpower competition with China and Australia has a trade dispute with Beijing.

Just as Australia took a 180-degree turn from 12 French-built diesel attack submarines to nine US Virginia class nuclear powered and conventionally armed submarines or SSNs, the Modi government will also have to make dyed in the wool admirals understand the deterrence of the nuclear platform.

Just like the Indian Navy still carries the imperial Cross of Saint George on its flag, its admirals want 24 diesel submarines as prescribed by a two-decades-old plan along with three SSNs. The 1999 submarine plan was cleared by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government at such a time when even mentioning the word potential threat along with China was considered taboo.

The then defence minister George Fernandes realised this much to his chagrin as he was pilloried by Indian media and so-called strategists for calling China a potential future threat.

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