Japan, India .. Has the nuclear submarine race in the Pacific started?

In the aftermath of the announcement of the creation of the AUKUS alliance bringing together the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, and of the order by the latter of nuclear attack submarines to the detriment of the submarines with conventional propulsion Shortfin Barracuda ordered from Naval Group, we titled " In Australia, Joe Biden opens a very dangerous Pandora's box“, An analysis focusing on the risk of seeing, with this maneuver, many countries absolving themselves of the tacit agreement which hitherto prevented the 5 major nuclear nations from exporting nuclear-powered submarines. Obviously, this option is indeed very quickly expanding, especially with several major military nations of the Indo-Pacific theater, which until now have been deprived of this option.

Remember that unlike a submarine with conventional propulsion, that is to say combining a diesel engine, batteries and most often now, an anaerobic electricity production system known as AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) allowing to increase the diving autonomy up to twenty days, nuclear-powered submarines do not need to resurface to renew the oxygen on board in order to allow the diesel engines to operate and recharge The batteries. In fact, the ship can evolve for an almost unlimited duration in diving, the limit being given by the available food and the psychological state of the crew, that is to say an average of 2 months per mission. Besides, these vessels can evolve at high speed while diving without time limit, where conventional submarines, even AIP, can only operate at low speed, otherwise their batteries will be discharged very quickly. On the other hand, and contrary to what has sometimes been said or written in recent days, nuclear-powered submarines are no more discreet than conventional submarines, in the sense that the latter, once on batteries and at slow speed or when stationary, produce almost no noise, while the nuclear boiler of an ANS still produces a certain noise level, it is now true less powerful than the "sound of the sea" itself, around 40 db or the noise of a modern dishwasher.

The INS Arihant nuclear launcher submarine is India's first nuclear powered submarine. The end of the status quo on technological exports of this type will allow New Delhi to rapidly increase its skills in this area, in particular with the potential help of France.

The first country for which access to a technology making it possible to design and build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines intended for attack and designated by the acronym SNA in French or SSN in English, is undoubtedly India. , who started a major effort to modernize and expand its fleet, and whose Navy Chief of Staff announced last June that he was ready to sacrifice his 3rd aircraft carrier to acquire 6 submersibles of this type. It was therefore no coincidence that, following the announcement of the breach of the Australian contract, the first international declaration of the French president was joint with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, to affirm the will of the two countries to conceive an inclusive cooperation in the Pacific, and to underline the strategic role of the Franco-Indian technological cooperation of defense in this field, and this especially since, if India conceived by itself its own class of nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Arihant, it is far from equaling the expertise of the 5 major nuclear nations in this field.

The rest of this article is for subscribers only

Full-access articles are available in the “ Free Items“. Subscribers have access to the full Analyses, OSINT and Synthesis articles. Articles in the Archives (more than 2 years old) are reserved for Premium subscribers.

From €6,50 per month – No time commitment.

Related posts