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China’s Foray into Ballistic Missile Defence: Implications for India

Roshan Writes: There have been reports that China has not only started developing Ballistic Missile Defence Systems but also has deployed a limited version of this. The question that arises is why China who in the past had vehemently criticized the American BMD program now wants to develop it

Roshan Writes: There have been reports that China has not only started developing Ballistic Missile Defence Systems but also has deployed a limited version of this. The Americans believe that this system will have a limited effect on the American Defense System due to their advanced technology and large number of nuclear weapons. The question that arises is why China who in the past had vehemently criticized the American BMD program now wants to develop it. There can be two reasons for this either it is a technology demonstration or China wants to send a signal to the neighbouring states. China is an ambitious nation and its objective has been to decrease the strategic gap between the Americans and the Chinese. In the past when it had started developing its ASAT capabilities; its Kinetic kill test in 2010 had garnered lot of questions regarding space debris. One view is that China wants to be more transparent and avoid global criticism hence; it is becoming more open in its approach. Also the technological glitches involved in the development and deployment of these niche technologies can be understood only if one has a practical working knowledge of the same. China also wants to enhance its prestige, as very few countries have the technological know-how to develop such a niche capability. More so its policy of informationalisation and active defense has the core objective of developing technologies keeping the local war construct in mind. It can be sending signals to Japan and India that it has now enhanced its capabilities to protect the nation from the incoming missiles.

This development is going to challenge India’s security further. In the sword and shield concept India needs to develop a better sword with enhanced penetration capabilities India already knew that China sooner or later will try to develop this capability hence India had started researching on the MIRV capabilities. India needs to increase the pace at which it is developing this technology and the newer versions of Agni series, should have this capability and ought to be deployed at a faster pace, so that the deterrence gap can be abridged. This is definitely going to change the strategic balance in Asia and create more instability, and India per force will be sucked into the armament game.

India on its part is also trying to get a better missile shield; hence there are plans to buy the new-generation Russian S-400 ‘Triumf’ air defence missile systems, which can destroy incoming hostile aircraft, stealth fighters, missiles and drones at ranges of up to 400-km, as stated in The Times of India.  It is believed that the ‘Triumf’ system can compete the anti-ballistic missile capabilities of the US Patriot PAC-3 system If this deal fructifies then this will be a significant step in building a strategic depth for India. Countries neighbouring China both in the South China Sea and in South Asia are worried at the pace with which China’s force is getting multiplied and they all will be reassessing their strategies to counter the threat emanating from China.

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