Strategic Forces Command

The Strategic Forces Command (SFC), sometimes called Strategic Nuclear Command, forms part of India's Nuclear Command Authority (NCA). It is responsible for the management and administration of the country's tactical and strategic nuclear weapons stockpile.[1] It was created on 4 January 2003 by the Vajpayee Government.[2] Air Marshal Teja Mohan Asthana became its first commander-in-chief.[3][4]

Strategic Forces Command
Founded4 January 2003 (2003-01-04)
Country India
Branch Indian Armed Forces
Air Marshal Navkaranjit Singh Dhillon, AVSM


It is the responsibility of the Strategic Forces Command to operationalize the directives of the NCA under the leadership of a Commander-in-Chief who is a three-star rank officer. It will have the sole responsibility of initiating the process of delivering nuclear weapons and warheads, after acquiring explicit approval from the NCA. The exact selection of the target area shall be decided by the SFC through a calibrated, cumulative process involving various levels of decision-making, and with formal approval by the NCA.[3][4]

The SFC manages and administers all strategic forces by exercising complete command and control over nuclear assets, and producing all contingency plans as needed to fulfill the required tasks. Since its inception, the SFC’s command, control and communication systems have been firmly established, and the command has attained a high state of operational readiness.[5]


The Agni-I and Agni-II ballistic missiles are operational under the SFC,[6] while the Agni-III missile is being inducted.[7] The Hindu reported in September 2012 that Agni-III missiles were operational under the Strategic Forces Command and a user test of rail mobile Agni-III was carried out 21 September 2012.[8] The SFC carried out the second user trial of rail mobile Agni-III missile on 23 December 2013.[9][10]

The Prithvi missile inducted into India’s Strategic Forces Command in 2003, the first missile to be developed under India’s prestigious IGMDP strengthens India’s nuclear deterrence A missile unit of the elite Strategic Forces Command (SFC) successfully launched a Prithvi missile on 07-January-2014 from the test range at Chandipur.[11]

It was reported by Hindustan Times on 12 September 2010 that to increase its lethal power, India's tri-services strike force is planning to acquire 40 fighter planes capable of delivering nuclear weapons. The SFC has submitted a proposal to the Defence Ministry for setting up two dedicated squadrons of fighter aircraft which will act as a mini-Air Force. This will be the first time that the SFC, which at present depends on the Indian Air Force for delivering nuclear weapons under its command, will have its own aerial assets.[12]

Land-based ballistic missiles
Name Type Range (km) Status
Prithvi-I  Short-range ballistic missile150Deployed
Prithvi-II  Short-range ballistic missile250–350
Prithvi-III  Short-range ballistic missile350–600
Agni-IShort / Medium-range ballistic missile700–1,250
Agni-IIMedium-range ballistic missile2,000–3,000
Agni-IIIIntermediate-range ballistic missile  3,500–5,000
Agni-IVIntermediate-range ballistic missile4,000 kmTested successfully
Agni-VIntermediate / Intercontinental ballistic missile5,000–8,000
Agni-VIIntercontinental ballistic missile & probable MIRV8,000–12,000Under development
SuryaIntercontinental ballistic missile & MIRV12,000–16,000Unconfirmed
Sea-based ballistic missiles
Name Type Range (km) Status
DhanushShort-range ballistic missile350Operational[13]
Sagarika (K-15)  Submarine-launched ballistic missile700Operational
K-4Submarine-launched ballistic missile3,500Tested[14]

List of commanders

List of Commanders-in-Chief of Strategic Forces Command
No. Rank Name Branch Assumed Office Left Office
1 Air Marshal Tej Mohan Asthana  Indian Air Force 10 January 2003[15] 30 June 2004
2 Ajit Bhavnani 12 July 2004[16] 18 August 2005[17]
3 Avinash Deodata Joshi 22 August 2005[18] 31 December 2006
4 Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar  Indian Navy December 2006 30 September 2008[19]
5 Lieutenant General Balraj Singh Nagal[20]  Indian Army 30 September 2008[21] December 2010
6 Air Marshal Kughikombil Joseph Mathews  Indian Air Force 1 January 2011[22] 31 October 2012
7 Vice Admiral Surinder Pal Singh Cheema  Indian Navy 1 November 2012[23] June 2014
8 Lieutenant General Amit Sharma  Indian Army 13 June 2014[24] 31 July 2016[25]
9 Air Marshal Jasbir Walia  Indian Air Force 1 August 2016 30 March 2019
10 Navkaranjit Singh Dhillon 30 March 2019[26][27] Incumbent

See also


  1. "India all set to set up nuclear forces command". Times of India. 30 December 2002. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  2. "Nuke command set up, button in PM's hand". Times of India. 4 January 2003. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  3. "Air Marshal Asthana to head Strategic Forces Command". Times of India. 10 January 2003. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  4. "Indian Army wants sole right over post of Strategic Forces Commander". Zee News. 29 July 2013. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  5. "Agni-I launched for the first time by Strategic Forces Command". Outlook India. 23 March 2008. Archived from the original on 10 May 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  6. T.S. Subramanian, Y. Mallikarjun. "Agni-II soars in success". The Hindu.
  7. India Poised To Test Agni-V Missile
  8. Y. Mallikarjun. "Agni-III test-fired successfully". The Hindu.
  9. "Press Information Bureau".
  10. Y. Mallikarjun. "Agni-III test-fired by SFC personnel". The Hindu.
  11. "Prithvi Launch Successful".
  12. Strategic Command to acquire 40 nuclear capable fighters Archived 2010-10-17 at the Wayback Machine
  13. "India s Dhanush Undergoes 1st Night Test - SP's Naval Forces". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  14. Press Trust of India (25 March 2014). "India test fires long range N-missile launched from under sea". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  15. "Air Marshal Asthana to head Strategic Forces Command". The Times of India. 10 January 2003. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  19. "Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar to take over as C-in-C of Andaman and Nicobar". OneIndia. Archived from the original on 27 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  21. "Lt Gen Nagal is new Strategic Forces commander". 30 September 2008. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  24. "Lt Gen Amit Sharma, VSM Appointed Commander - in - Chief Strategic Force Command". 13 June 2014.
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