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Missile groups to form nucleus of Strategic Forces Command
January 07, 2003 13:22 IST
Two operational missile groups of the Indian Army -- one armed with the 150-250 km short-range Prithvi missiles and the other with the longer-version 2,500 km Agni missiles, would form the nucleus of the new Strategic Forces Command.
The Strategic Forces Command, which will report to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, at present headed by Naval chief Admiral Madhvendra Singh, will allocate some squadrons of Mirage 2000-5 and Su-30MKI fighters and some naval warships and submarines to form the country's first ever nuclear arm, highly placed defence sources said.
An official notification to this effect would be issued soon after the name of the head of the Strategic Forces Command as well the location of its headquarters is announced, the sources said.
The SFC, sources said, would be the country's second Tri Service Command and would function in coordination with the first one based in Andaman.
The chairman of the JCOSC would report to a seven-member executive council which, in turn, would report to the four-member Political Council headed by the prime minister.
The lengthy chain of nuclear command has come in for criticism from the country's security experts. One of them, K Subhramanyan, has said that India should have followed the US pattern with a single chain of command, headed by the prime minister.
Air Marshal T M Asthana, AOC-in-C, IAF Training Command, who is at present attached to the Air Headquarters in Delhi, is expected to head the SFC.
Besides those from the services, the SFC would have a fair number of civilian staff, including nuclear experts from the Indian Nuclear Energy Commission and missile experts from the Defence Research and Development Organisation.
The army's 333 Missile Group, armed with the shorter-range Prithvi missiles, already operational and fully deployed, would form one arm of the nuclear and strategic forces and the Agni Special Missile Group, armed with the 1,500 km and 2,500 km versions of the surface-to-surface missile, would form the other.
Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister Dr V K Aatre said the DRDO would carry out further configuration tests of the 600-800 km variant of the Agni missiles before their induction into the armed forces later this year.
Most of the IAF fighter jets are capable of delivering nuclear bombs, but the Jaguar deep penetration strike aircraft, Mirage 2000 and the SU-30 have specially designed pods for undertaking precision bombing.