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Pakistan’s Efforts at Creating Second Strike Capability – ‘Jugaad’?

Rajiv Writes, Pakistan is retro-fitting all its Agosta – 90B submarines with an AIP (air independent propulsion system) that enables the boat to stay submerged for 45 – 60 days, three times longer than a normal diesel –electric submarine.[2]. It thus provides Pakistan Armed Forces with an ‘optimally economic’ solution, since it entire capability building is ‘India-Centric’.

The media glare on the India – China Informal Talks at Wuhan and the Inter-Korea Summit at Panmunjeom, less attention was paid to the second testing of the nuclear capable Submarine Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM) – Babar 3. Dr Manpreet Sethi, Senior Fellow CAPS, in her article of 05 May 2018, has called its deployment in Agosta 90-B diesel electric submarine as ‘Jugaad’,[1] because these boats do not have adequate survival capabilities due to limited capacity to stay submerged. She has also expressed concern over the mixing of nuclear and conventional missiles in these submarines.

As per Pakistan’s calculation an India – Pakistan War is likely to be short and sharp, with Pakistan planning to control the escalatory matrix in the nuclear domain – which is debatable. It reckons that the major powers of the World would force a ceasefire within 15 days of the outbreak of war, if not earlier to prevent a nuclear winter over South Asia and the region around it. Based on the above, its second strike capability based on submarines only needs to have the capability to remain submerged for not more that 45 – 60 days, thereby covering the period of hostilities prior to and the actual duration of the war.

What the scholar has missed is that Pakistan is retro-fitting all its Agosta – 90B submarines with an AIP (air independent propulsion system) that enables the boat to stay submerged for 45 – 60 days, three times longer than a normal diesel –electric submarine.[2]. It thus provides Pakistan Armed Forces with an ‘optimally economic’ solution, since it entire capability building is ‘India-Centric’. Later it is also getting the export variant of the Chinese Type 39B diesel-electric submarines (eight of them, with 4 being built in Karachi), which are also having AIP. 4 of them will be delivered by China by 2023 and the balance from the Karachi Shipyard by 2028. One report has suggested that it is these submarines that Pakistan is looking at to form part of the nuclear triad, since they have a vertical launch system for launching anti-ship / cruise missles.

As far as the issue of mixing conventional warheads with nuclear is concerned, it has already done so by operationalizing its Tactical Nuclear Weapon (TNW), Nasr. Hence this mixing up within a submarine is not a major issue.

It may not be prudent to underplay what Pakistan is doing under the umbrella of ‘Jugad’. Pakistan Armed Forces is moving towards second strike capability and operationalizing its nuclear triad to counter the threat from India.

It is playing the game of ‘nuclear blackmail’ with the World by such deployment, so that they would restrain India from upping the ante to counter Pakistan’s use of non-state actors. A lesson ‘learned’ from the Kargil War (?) when President Clinton stepped in to prevent the border war from escalating to a full scale war.

 

[1] PAKISTAN’S JUGAAD AT BUILDING SEABASED DETERRENCE, Dr Manpreet Sethi, ExpertView 17/18, CAPS Forum for National Security Studies, 05 May 2018, http://capsindia.org/files/documents/CAPS_ExpertView_MS_08.pdf

[2]SSK Agosta 90B Class Submarine, Naval Technology, https://www.naval-technology.com/projects/agosta/

 

 

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