Will India Increase Its Nuclear Warheads In Response To China's Advances? Here's What Former Strategic Forces Command Head Has To Say

Ujjwal Shrotryia

Jun 03, 2024, 04:20 PM | Updated 05:19 PM IST

Agni-V nuclear ballistic missile launch from Odisha’s Integrated Test Range. 
Agni-V nuclear ballistic missile launch from Odisha’s Integrated Test Range. 

India may look to increase its nuclear warheads in response to China's aggressive moves, former head of India's Strategic Forces Command (SFC) Air Marshal Rajesh Kumar (Retd) claimed.

The air marshal, in the magazine, The Week, said that "the expanding Chinese arsenal combined with the development and deployment of China’s ballistic missile defense may force India to adjust the number of its warheads to retain an assured second-strike capability."

China is estimated to have at least 400 to 500 warheads in total, while India is estimated to have around 140 to 150 warheads.

In 2022, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, China had around 400 warheads, but two years later this inventory may have grown to 500 nuclear warheads.

According to reports, China is rapidly increasing its inventory of nuclear warheads, which is expected to grow to more than 1,000 warheads.

The air marshal says that as China remains embroiled in an arms race with the United States, it is putting pressure on India to have an arsenal that he describes as a minimum credible deterrent.

This comes as India thus far has resisted temptations to increase its nuclear warheads in the face of Pakistan's nuclear sabre rattling.

He adds that the tests of new Agni P and Agni V missiles are steps in the right direction. The launching of INS Arihant also strengthens its sea-based deterrent.

The Air Marshal also stated that India needs to quickly operationalise a longer-range sea-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV) as well as develop an air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM).

Staff Writer at Swarajya. Writes on Indian Military and Defence.

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