Nuclear Command Authority (India)
The Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) of India is the authority responsible for command, control and operational decisions regarding India's nuclear weapons programme.
India's first Nuclear test was conducted on 18 May 1974 with the code name Smiling Buddha. Since then India has conducted another series of tests at the Pokhran test range in the state of Rajasthan in 1998, which included a thermonuclear test, code named Operation Shakti. India has an extensive civil and military nuclear program, which includes at least 10 nuclear reactors, uranium mining and milling sites, heavy water production facilities, a uranium enrichment plant, fuel fabrication facilities, and extensive nuclear research capabilities.
On 4 January 2003, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) constituted the Political Council and the Executive Council of the NCA. The Executive Council gives its opinion to the Political Council, which authorises a nuclear attack when deemed necessary. While the Executive Council is chaired by the National Security Advisor (NSA), the Political Council is chaired by the Prime Minister. This mechanism was implemented to ensure that Indian nukes remain firmly in civilian control and that there exists a sophisticated Command and Control (C2) mechanism to prevent their accidental or unauthorised use.
Strategic Forces Command
The directives of the NCA are to be operationalised by the Strategic Forces Command under the control of a Commander-in-Chief of the rank of Air Marshal (or its equivalent) in charge of the management and administration of the tactical and strategic nuclear forces.
The NCA may be seen as the first stage in the development of an effective and robust Command and Control (C2) and Indications-and-Warning (I&W) systems and infrastructure for its strategic nuclear forces.
Delivery of weapons
The current status of delivery systems for Indian nuclear weapons is unclear and highly classified. India has developed and tested nuclear weapons that could be delivered on the Prithvi and Agni missiles, although its extent and operational preparedness in this respect remains unclear.
India first tested the 150 km range Prithvi-1 in 1988, and the 250 km range Prithvi-2 in 1996, and the Prithvi missiles were inducted into the Indian armed forces by the early to mid 1990s. India was slow to develop the Agni missiles. It first tested the Agni technology demonstrator in 1989, the two-stage 2000 km range Agni-2 in 1999, and the one-stage 700 km range Agni-1 in 2001. It first tested the 3,000 km range three-stage Agni-3 in 2006.
Since India had a few nuclear weapons prior to the availability of these missiles, especially the Agni, it is probable that the current Indian nuclear weapons inventory includes weapons designed for delivery using aeroplanes. One or more of the following aircraft types might be used for this purpose. There are no open-source reports suggesting which if any of these planes have been equipped to deliver air-dropped atomic weapons. The MiG-27 and the Jaguar were originally designed to perform ground attack missions, and would require only modest modification to deliver nuclear weapons. The Indian Air Force also operates several other older and less capable types of ground-attack aircraft which would seem rather less likely candidates for delivering nuclear weapons. The MiG-29, Sukhoi Su-30 MKI and Mirage 2000 were originally designed to perform air-to-air combat missions, though they could potentially be modified to deliver air-dropped nuclear weapons. Plans are also on for the delivery of nuclear weapons via the Arihant class submarine using the SLBM/SLCM Sagarika.
New Delhi-Islamabad nuclear hotline
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