Nuclear Triad

Nuclear triad refers to a nuclear arsenal which consists of three components, traditionally strategic bombers, ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles) and SLBMs (Submarine-launched ballistic missile).

» India is all set to take a big step towards achieving a credible nuclear weapon triad in February 2012. In February, India’s first indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant begins sea trials off Visakhapatnam.

The sea trials are called “sea-acceptance trials’’ or SATs which are slated to begin “towards end-February’’ after the completion of its ongoing harbour-acceptance trials (HATS). “It will take at least six months of extensive SATS and missile trials before the boat is ready for commissioning into Navy,’’ reports Times of India.

With INS Arihant’s induction, India for the first time will brandish the most effective third leg of the nuclear triad — the ability to fire nukes from land, air and sea. The first two legs revolve around the Agni family of ballistic missiles and fighters like Sukhoi-30MKIs and Mirage-2000s jury-rigged to deliver nuclear warheads. Only the 5 countries have nuclear triads till now, with a total of over 140 nuclear-powered submarines. America leads the pack with 71, followed by Russia with about 40, while China, the UK and France have around 10-12 each. India did get delivery of INS Chakra, the rechristened Akula-II nuclear-powered submarine ‘K-152 Nerpa’, from Russia on a 10-year lease recently. But while it will bolster the country’s underwater firepower, it’s not armed with nuclear-tipped missiles due to international treatises. (Kindly note the difference in INS Chakra and INS Arihant).