An image on Google Earth shows a Chinese nuclear attack submarine, docked in the harbour in Karachi in May last year, proving that Beijing likely to be scrutinizing Indian warships’ movements more closely than earlier.
The nuclear-powered submarines have an unlimited range of operations since they need not come to surface for fuel as their nuclear reactors rarely require to be refueled. In other words, the submarines, which are armed with torpedoes and cruise missiles, can be deployed underwater for extended durations where they can be tracked with difficulty.
The Karachi image was spotted first by a satellite imagery expert (Twitter handle @rajfortyseven). The image shows a Chinese Navy Type 091 ‘Han’ class fast-attack submarine, the first class of nuclear powered submarines deployed by China.
The presence of Chinese nuclear attack submarines in the Indian Ocean reinforces Beijing’s aggression in competing with India for dominance in a region strategically vital to India’s security.
For the last few years, the Indian Navy is realizing that the presence of Chinese nuclear submarines in the Indian Ocean is part of a carefully-choreographed exercise to expand Beijing’s military presence in the region.
Senior Navy officers have rejected China’s earlier assertions that its submarine deployment has been in aid of the anti-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia.
The induction of the US-built P8-I anti-submarine warfare jets have been a game-changer for the Indian force and also a main asset in tracking Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean.
The P8-I, that replaces India’s ageing Soviet-built Tupolev Tu-142, is equipped with sensors meant to detect the sound radiated by submarines underwater. Once a submarine is detected, the P8-I can either engage the submarine with weapons or use its datalink to pass on the exact location to other naval assets, including friendly warships and submarines operating in the area.