New Delhi, 24
inputs by Sayan Mazumdar
Deputy Prime Minister of India Shri L K Advani took time off and
spent an exciting day at sea with the CNS Admiral Madhvendra Singh,
Western Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Vijay Shankar and others, on
board INS Viraat off Goa on Monday 17th March witnessing Flying and
other Naval operations.
day at sea with the Navy is always exhilarating and entertaining and
the flying display off the Carrier is the ultimate in flying skills,
especially at night or in rough seas and bad weather. The Indian
Navy is proud of its assets and the Dy PM and his entourage and the
very select media persons that were invited came back to New Delhi
duly impressed. Such PR exercises by the three services to show off
their skills have become very important as the three services still
have their own agendas for acquisition and do not easily share the
full details with each other, and the Navy's budget this year is up
to 17.6% from 13.5%, which is good news for the Nation.
and competing acquisitions like the Gorshkov, AJT, Scorpene and
Akula class submarines etc., have inter-service claims and rivalries
and International pressures, especially as now the powerful CVC and
eminent persons get involved to vet the deal. It is therefore very
essential that each Chief and his Service use every opportunity to
show off their prowess to the Ministers that matter in the Cabinet.
In the present case the three-year old GORSHKOV acquisition deal is
a very important milestone for the Navy. The Navy Chief said it
would take place when both parties are satisfied. The aviation
related acquisition deserves national support as it is a fraction of
the cost of the huge SU 30 MKI deal, which in the long term will tot
up to over $4 billion.
Mantri George Fernandes who had to excuse himself from the Navy's
International Seminar on Marine Archeology a few days before,
because he had to suddenly fly out to Patna where the BJP/Samata
Government were in trouble, was present at sea with Dy PM Advani and
made a statement to the media which deserves introspection. He
stated that certain parties had delayed the AJT deal and went on to
say that the Gorshkov deal was connected with other purchases.
have followed the media and notice that reports that the Gorshkov
deal is not a stand alone case and is connected with the acquisition
of one Squadron of improved MIG 29K aircraft and possibly with the
Akula II class submarines and TU 22 M maritime reconnaissance (MR)
aircraft. The TU 22Ms offered by Russia had earlier been rejected by
the IAF –– the IAF pilots that saw this plane operate with
Iraqis in the 70s, where they trained the Iraqi Air Force, had a
poor opinion of it. The IAF always look for the best, while the Navy
has at times accepted second hand ships and equipment to keep
budgets lower. At present the Navy needs maritime recce planes
a proper perspective of the versatile nuclear submarines and TU 22M
is essential. India's nuclear ambitions include the nuclear triad in
due course. Indian Navy's DRDO built ATV nuclear boat is some
distance away, as revealed at some length in Bharat Karnad's book on
Nuclear Weapons and India's Nuclear Security. The 4 TU 22 M long
range MR aircraft offered to the Navy are also nuclear capable and
should fit the triad's bill cheaply for deterrence now that IAF has
mid air IL 78 refuellers. The Navy and IAF can and must cooperate.
induction of Project 971M Akula II Class SSNs (Submarine, Nuclear
powered hunter-killer) like the Gephard from Russia seems almost
inevitable in Indian Navy service. The naval officials should ensure
integration of the latest range of sensors and weapon systems
available from Russia and elsewhere. The Navy is good at that.
Structurally these submarines reflect one of the latest
technologies; they are very quiet in comparison to other Russian
vessels and significantly are the product of advanced Russian
research on marine animals, notably dolphins.
can be assumed that these submarines "by default" will
carry a formidable array of potent torpedoes and the Indo-Russian
BrahMos ASCMs (Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles). However every effort
should be made to retain the capacity of firing the submarine
launched Granit (SS-N-21 Sampson) LACMs (Land Attack Cruise
Missiles) twelve of which are carried by Russian Akulas
and are fired from common 533 millimetre torpedo tubes. LACMs
especially submarine launched, are invaluable assets of any major
navy, and are likely to be used in decimating enemy overland
communications, command and control centres and powerful air defence
installations before extensive barrage air attack followed by ground
invasion. If the Russian LACM is not available because of MTCR
(Missile Technology Control Regime) restrictions, efforts should be
made to develop an indigenous LACM of fair range and capacity, or
re-engineer and enhance the capability of BrahMos or Alpha/Klub
(SS-N-27) family of missiles. This aspect will enhance the Indian
Navy's capability to influence an "air-land" battle and
since this naval application is likely to appeal to politicians as
well the Navy will be able to press for increased budget in return.
Mr L K Advani who now controls the massive 1 million strong para
military and armed police force which are acquiring the latest
hardware and training abroad will appreciate this.
Indian Navy could also opt for the exceptionally high speed (200
Knots) Russian Shkval (Squall) rocket propelled 'torpedo' which is
capable of destroying even super-carriers with a couple of hits and
provides the targeted vessels very little chance to perform evasive
manoeuvres. This 'torpedo' may also be used as a "revenge"
weapon, which will be fired along
the bearing of an incoming enemy torpedo. The Russians have
disclosed the existence of non-nuclear tipped Shkval-E for export
is generally regarded that the underwater acoustic sensor suite and
combat action information system of United States and West European
submarines are superior to their Russian contemporaries. Hopefully
the Indian Navy is set to "absorb" the key technologies of
the Franco-Spanish Scorpene Class SSKs (Submarine, Conventional
powered hunter-killer), which includes innovations inspired directly
by France's new-generation SSNs and SSBNs (Submarine, Ballistic
missile armed, Nuclear powered). It is difficult to ascertain the
Completion State of the Akula II Class submarines destined to serve
the Indian navy. But if possible the Franco-Spanish technologies
especially in terms of the sonar and other acoustic sensor suite and
automated action information/combat management system may be
transferred to Akulas if judged to be preferable. The Indian Navy
has done this in the past.
integration of key technologies to a single platform is nothing new
in Indian Navy. The "indigenous" Godavari Class frigates
proudly display an array of Russian gun/missile systems, American
engines, British helicopters, Italian torpedoes and Dutch
electronics. Recently Israeli Barak surface to air missile were
installed on Indian Navy ships and possibly INS Ganga.
More recently the IAF (Indian Air Force) Sukhoi-30MKI emerged with
extensive multinational equipment, though there is criticism on the
extra canard wing and variable thrust nozzles which have made the
plane more expensive and heavy . The IAF is still looking at
dogfights despite BVR missiles. The Chinese have not opted for this.
Hopefully similar integration can be extended to Akulas in Indian
Navy service and also to our ATV (Advanced Technology Vessel).
Interestingly there is a distant similarity between a fighter
aircraft in airspace and an agile submerged submarine. Both operate
in a three-dimensional environment where a powerful sensor suite to
provide "first look", mobility and agility are key to
survivability. Cooperation between the three services will be
welcomed on this and a CDS may contribute.