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Pakistan Navy's Nuclear Aspirations.

Discussion in 'South Asia & SAARC' started by Tailchopper, Jun 30, 2012.

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  1. Tailchopper

    Tailchopper Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Pakistan Navy’s ‘Nuclear’ Aspirations


    Abhijit Singh

    June 29, 2012


    [​IMG]

    Recent reports from Pakistan seem to suggest the Pakistan Navy (PN) may be on the cusp of developing a naval nuclear missile capability, even as its plans for acquiring a nuclear submarine capability gradually become clearer. The first indication of this came in May 2012 when Pakistan tested the Hatf VII (Babur)—an indigenously developed Cruise Missile with high precision and manoeuvrability. Reports suggested that the missile was launched from a state-of-the-art multi-tube Missile Launch Vehicle (MLV), which significantly enhances the targeting and employment options of the Babur Weapon System in both the conventional and nuclear modes. Importantly, this is the third test of the Babur in the recent past, of different capacities and loads.

    Then, in another significant development, on May 19, the PN inaugurated the Headquarters of the Naval Strategic Force Command (NSFC). A statement from the Pakistan military’s Inter Services Public Relations said that the NSFC “will perform a pivotal role in development and employment of the Naval Strategic Force,” and was “the custodian of the nation’s 2nd strike capability” – presumably for use against India, in case the need ever arose. This is noteworthy because Pakistan is not known to have a sea-based second strike capability. Therefore, a public statement that the NSFC would be in-charge of such a capability is an open admission of sorts that Pakistan is in the process of developing a naval variant of a strategic nuclear missile.

    For long, the Pakistan Navy has viewed the Indian Navy (IN) with suspicion. The IN’s sustained growth over the past few years has, in fact, become an excuse for the PN to push for its own development and expansion of assets. In an article written for a Pakistan daily in May 2012, Tauqir Naqvi, a retired Vice Admiral of the PN, suggested that the ‘hegemonic’ elements of the Indian Navy’s maritime strategy have been the main drivers of the resurgence of the Pakistan Navy. The article, when read closely, is a dead give-away of Pakistan’s real ambitions with regard to nuclear weapons and nuclear submarines.

    [​IMG]

    Naqvi writes extensively about India’s strategic vision, characterising it as a “hegemonic” impulse that has led the IN to aim for control of the seas over an area extending from the Red Sea in the West to Fiji in the Pacific Ocean. While Pakistan, he contends, is a “peace-loving” nation, India has never been serious about developing friendly relations, fixated as it has been with the “idea of projecting power”. Surprisingly, he showers Indian scientists and the IN with some unexpected, even if ‘motivated’ praise, by mentioning the sterling efforts of the Indian scientific community and shipyard workers in operationalising a strategic maritime capability. The complimentary references are, in effect, a none-too-disguised message to Pakistan's political leadership and mandarins in the defence ministry about the ineluctable need for Pakistan to buttress its own strategic arsenal with naval nuclear missiles and a nuclear submarine, without which, the PN can forget about countering the “evil designs” of the Indian Navy.

    It is, however, Naqvi’s references to India’s two nuclear submarines—INS Chakra (SSN) and INS Arihant (SSBN)—that dispel all doubts about the real intentions behind the avidly rendered piece. Naqvi opines that the threat that the two nuclear platforms collectively pose to the security of Pakistan, is near-existential. It is the completion of the Triad (land, air and sea based nuclear weapons), he observes, that gives India the confidence to respond with nuclear weapons, even if it is made to absorb a first nuclear strike. INS Arihant is that crucial second strike capability which could give India the vital edge during a conflict. The SSBN, he concludes, is an essential component of a nuclear arsenal, one that Pakistan must singularly pursue.

    However, in his enthusiasm to convince Pakistan’s defence establishment about the need for a SSBN, Naqvi overstates his case when he mentions the “diplomatic advantage” that may accrue to India on account of its nuclear submarine. There is hardly any modern precedent of a nuclear submarine (by itself) being an effective instrument of ‘diplomatic persuasion’, as he suggests. Nor does it really help in negotiating with other states possessing similar capability, as cooperation and negotiation in the strategic realm has to do with ‘bottom-line’ naval capacities in securing maritime interests and an overlap in strategic interests. While maritime cooperation does lead to economic benefits, it is not on account of possessing a ballistic nuclear weapon submarine capability, which is purely for the purposes of strategic deterrence.

    The Arihant is a significant addition to the Indian Navy’s arsenal but it does not introduce a strategic imbalance in the India-Pakistan context, as India, by embracing a ‘No First Use’ doctrine, has already renounced the strategic advantage. The Arihant’s introduction does not alter this basic reality and is unlikely to tilt the strategic balance drastically. If anything, its gives India a measure of greater confidence in securing its own maritime interests, which does not necessarily translate into overwhelming dominance of the Indian Ocean or greater vulnerability of Pakistan to India’s strategic weapons.

    Given India’s territorial expanse and the spread of its nuclear weapon sites, even if Pakistan did get a nuclear missile capable submarine, it would not be able to neutralise India’s broader nuclear weapon capability, with or without the Arihant. As regards the comparison of combat capabilities of conventional submarines and SSNs/SSBNs, it is well established that the former are not ‘inferior’ operational combat platforms merely on account of the absence of nuclear propulsion or nuclear weapons. Both these capabilities (though vital strategically) rarely come in handy in a tactical scenario. Admiral Naqvi again exaggerates his case by suggesting that the Pakistan Navy’s conventional submarines would not be able to stand up to India’s SSBN.

    Interestingly, signs that the PN has been thinking seriously about nuclear submarines have been around for some time now. As early as in 2008, in an interview to a Pakistan daily, the then PN Chief, Admiral Noman Bashir, had said that Pakistan was quite capable of building a nuclear submarine and would do so “if required”. Pakistan, he said, is a recognized nuclear power and if the government made a decision, the nation would develop a nuclear weapon. In February 2012, Admiral Asif Sandhila, the present Chief of the PN, stated to the Pakistani media that the PN was mindful of India’s plans to complete the sea-based arm of its nuclear triad, and was “taking necessary measures to restore the strategic balance” in the Indian Ocean region.

    Questions, however, remain on Pakistan’s capability to design and develop a sea-based nuclear missile. Even China, which is known to be helping Pakistan in its nuclear capabilities, does not possess a credible submarine-launched missile. The odds that Pakistan will succeed in developing its undersea nuclear ballistic missile without assistance from China are highly unfavourable. Even if it did manage to get an SSBN, it is not certain whether the Pakistan Navy will be in a position to undertake the responsibility of the nation’s second-strike capability.

    Therefore, the recent drive by PN’s senior serving and retired naval officers to persuade the security establishment as well as the man on the street of the necessity of a nuclear submarine capability appears ill-founded, if not disingenuous. Outwardly, it may serve to create a sense of insecurity—vital in persuading politicians about the need for a new capability—but the manifest lack of strategic logic will eventually convince few.

    Pakistan’s naval leadership will also be aware of the risks and financial costs of developing and operating a nuclear submarine—the need to constantly refine equipment and train personnel; of razor-sharp communications and command and control systems; and the requirement of mastering safety procedures. In the final analysis the SSBN is not an asset if it is not mastered well and operated optimally. Merely possessing one offers no strategic advantages.

    Pakistan Navy
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2012
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  2. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    There had been some new on the development of the Hull in the one of the port. Can you provide any update on that. And General Mushy has restarted miniaturization of the Nuclear power plant. Is there any update on that. Thanks.
     
  3. PK787

    PK787 Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    are you talking about the floating dock?
     
  4. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    NO NO PK’ji, there was some news before that with the Help of French knowledge, but indigenous hull production was on process… AM checking but couldn’t get hold of the news… will update you in short while...
     
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  5. kewlol

    kewlol 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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    So what does the future PN look like? What are the assets that they looking to acquire? Any indigenous efforts? More info on those lines will help understand the post above.
     
  6. PK787

    PK787 Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    oh, my bad
     
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  7. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    Lolz, It was from the PK def forum, someone claimed and also has posted some photo of part hull which was on production.
     
  8. PK787

    PK787 Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    i am clueless when it comes to Pakistan army/airforce/navy, maybe other members can help you
     
  9. tilopa

    tilopa Lieutenant SENIOR MEMBER

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    in the latest defence budget,pn has taken a toll ,so i dont think they will go for nuke submarine in 2 year atleast

    exception is if there is some sort of breakthru with china,but chinese themselves are no expert on nuke submarines
    so chances stands low
     
  10. Gessler

    Gessler Lt. Colonel Technical Analyst

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    I've seen the photo at pk forum, some were later debunked to be a Agosta-90B hull.
    I'm unsure about the progress or capability with pakistan here.
    As Tilopa said, PN's defence expidenture was cut further in
    the latest budget released, as it is PN always gets a small piece of the budget, and a
    nuke sub is a very costly affair.

    This gotta be a chinese submarine if it really exists. Its gonna be the same story of JF-17 all over
    again, china designs it, chinese build it (but in pakistan), and the PN starts calling it a pakistani
    submarine, (heck, why don't they call Agosta-90Bs as their own too while they're built there?).

    Secondly, the operational aspect. It seems Pakistan wants this to be an SSGN, specifically
    designed to deploy cruise missiles like Babur. Which raises another interesting question, aren't the
    Qing-class subs able to be modified for the role? All in all, inspite of mushy's rants, I'm doubtful if this will be a nuclear-propelled sub or simply a nuke-armed sub (like the ones Israel is getting from Germany), given the level of pakistan's economic capability, I believe the second is more likely.

    As it is the sub-launched version of Babur is nowhere near ready. This would be tested in the next
    3-4 years and the missile won't be operational before 5 years from now IMHO.

    In terms of operational capability, the probable aquisition of this vessel is not going to bring PN to any superiority par IN, as it is our Kilo-class subs are already capable of delivering cruise missiles like Klub tipped with nukes. The only new threat will be pakistan's ability to launch warheads from the sea. But given the aquisition of advanced stealth-optimized ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) corvettes like the Project-28 Kamorta-class and the new Boeing P-8I Neptune ASW aircraft, and procurement of wide-area surveillance drones like Grumman MQ-4C BAMS, the new threat of submarine-launched nukes can be effectively neutralized by destroying the launch platforms.

    The Indian Navy's probable aquisition of Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye AWACS aircraft can be
    used to detect terrain-hugging or sea-skimming missiles. Plus, it has been proven several times
    that shore-based SAM systems or even Air-to-Air missiles launched from jet aircraft can be effectively used to intercept terrain-hugging cruise missiles like Tomahawk, with which Babur has much in common, and is presumeably, less capable.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2012
  11. Tailchopper

    Tailchopper Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    ^ That was a joke.
     
  12. Nirvana

    Nirvana Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    It will be an SSN/SSGN right ? Pakistan Don't have an Operational SLBM !! and Neither have i heard of Pakistan Working on development of SLBM.

    ARE They ?
     
  13. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    Thanks for the Info Gessler...
     
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