The Indian 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. It was created on January 4, 2003 by Vajpayee Government. Air Marshal Teja Mohan Asthana became its first commander-in-chief.
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.
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.
The Agni-I and Agni-II ballistic missiles are operational under the SFC, while the Agni-III missile is being inducted. 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.
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.
- "India all set to set up nuclear forces command". Dec 30, 2002. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2002-12-30/india/27320878_1_nuclear-command-sfc-strategic-forces-command. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
- "Air Marshal Asthana to head Strategic Forces Command". Jan 10, 2003. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2003-01-10/india/27285210_1_nuclear-command-and-control-strategic-forces-command-sfc. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
- "Indian Army wants sole right over post of Strategic Forces Commander". 29 July 2013. http://zeenews.india.com/news/nation/indian-army-wants-sole-right-over-post-of-strategic-forces-commander_865310.html. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
- "Agni-I launched for the first time by Strategic Forces Command". Mar 23, 2008. http://news.outlookindia.com/items.aspx?artid=556137. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
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