"After decades of considering Pakistan their principal enemy, Indian defence officials are beginning to see China as a more serious long-term threat, and they don’t want to be caught unprepared again. Washington is embracing India as a rising power that can be a valuable ally to stand with this country, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia in defence of democracy in South and East Asia,” according to a report published here.
James T. Hackett writes in the Washington Times on Thursday that Indian defence analysts are concerned about the huge nuclear submarine base being built by China on Hainan Island in the South China Sea and Beijing’s plan to build up to five ballistic missile-firing submarines. Consequently, India is building its own ballistic missile-firing submarine and in February carried out a successful test launch of a K-15 missile from an underwater platform. The plan reportedly is to develop a version of the Agni family of solid-fuel missiles to be carried on Indian submarines.
New Delhi also is working on ballistic missile defences. In 2006, an Indian interceptor destroyed a target missile outside the atmosphere and last December a shorter-range interceptor stopped a missile inside the atmosphere. This two-stage missile defence is undergoing further testing, but components could be ready for deployment as soon as 2010. On a trip to New Delhi in February, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said the United States and India are studying the possibility of a joint missile defence system.
The combining of US and Indian nuclear deterrents, together with missile defences in Alaska, California, India, Japan and on ships in the Pacific, will greatly diminish the ability of China or any other country to use nuclear missiles to pose a threat, according to Hackett.