INDIA DEFENCE CONSULTANTS
INDIAN NAVY –– LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
An IDC Analysis
Delhi, 04 December 2001
The fine Indian Navy at times dubbed ‘India’s Cinderella Service’ celebrates its birthday on 4 December 2001 on a high. The recent US military attacks on land targets and war on terror in Afghanistan have demonstrated the abilities and agility of naval ships, submarines and integral naval aviation. It was the US and Royal Navy ships that heralded the attacks in Afghanistan on 7 October with support of US Air Force flying all the way from America and Diego Garcia, the latter luxury is not available to most countries. As of writing there are 72 warships operating in the North Arabian Sea within 200 nautical miles of the Indian Coastline and no Laws of the Sea or Geneva Conventions are being transgressed.
This year Navy Day is also being celebrated at a time when the purse strings for the Navy have been opened and there is public and government support for Naval budgets and maritime aspirations of the country. This is because globalization has brought home to the country that maritime power is not merely the Navy and its Coast Guard, but a healthy and sizable mercantile marine, efficient ports and ability to explore the resources of the Oceans.
India’s inescapable need to generate energy from the seas also demands a cohesive maritime strategy. Regrettably thus far such an approach to define the policy and allocate resources has been absent. There are 14 different Ministries and departments and seven coastal states that deal with matters maritime and coordination has been woefully lacking. It is heartening that the GOM has accepted that an APEX body will be formed to deal with Maritime issues and it is the Navy and the Mercantile Marine and sea based hydrocarbon exploiters who will gain in the long term. Whilst the Navy and Coast Guard will be able to mesh security concerns the other half will be able to attend to commercial expansion so essential for growth.
Stephen Saunders, Editor Janes Fighting Ships has reviewed the Indian Navy
of the future in the editorial of its latest issue and given it credit for
its outlook and balanced growth. In February 2001 the Navy hosted a
memorable International Fleet Review at Mumbai. The 24 Admirals from
various countries who attended professed admiration for India’s men in
white. The Navy’s ships which today have state of the art missiles,
radars and equipment, laced with Sea Going traditions, which is the glue
that enables a Navy to be considered professional. It was also a boost for
India’s diplomacy and some of the fruits were evident when the war on
terror flared up and personal interaction followed.
the last month alone US, UK and French ships have called at Indian ports
and the French exercised with the Indian Navy. Indian ships successfully
cruised to South East Asia, Australia, Seychelles and the Gulf and
completed survey tasks for Indonesia.
Naval programme of acquisitions too is modestly ambitious and promising
and if the Naval Top Brass and the men that man the oars, pull hard and
steer well, the next decade could well see the Indian Navy move up from
the ninth rank it holds to become the sixth largest in the world. The
42,000-ton aircraft carrier Gorshkov is slated to join INS VIRAAT with its
paraphernalia of MIG 29K fighters and Kamov 31 and ALH helicopters. The
depleted submarine fleet of 10 is due to double in the next decade if the
Scorpene Type 75 building programme at Mazagon Docks is signed and offers
from Russia inclusive of an Oscar Class Nuclear boat on lease are
accepted. The GRSE Kolkata is due to deliver the upgraded Leanders INS
BETWA and BEAS and orders for another Landing Ship Tank (Large) like INS
Magar have been placed. In fact GRSE has a healthy defence order book but
as RM George Fernandes stated in the Carriappa Memorial Lecture, its
productivity is of great concern. The Naval Brass has to attend to this
with a carrot and stick policy.
Indian Navy is due to receive three advanced 3600-ton Krivack ships from
Russia, which are top of the line vertical launch capable missile ships
and the first is due to commission in June 2002 from the Admiralty yard at
St Petersburg. The ship will have KA 31 AEW helicopters for long range 300
km targeting of the world famous Klub missiles and the Kashtan SAM
systems. On similar lines Mazagon Docks has laid the keel of the first
Type 17 frigate and two more will follow in the programme. Mazagon Dock
has delivered the three Delhi class and an order for three improved Delhi
class with vertical launched missiles and stealth characteristics has been
Shipyard is slated to build the first Air Defence Ship, a euphemism for an
aircraft carrier and the design prepared by the Indian Navy design team at
Kailash Colony in Delhi has completed model tests in Europe successfully
and should become a feather in their caps. Goa shipyard has orders for
missile corvettes, survey ship Sarveshak and assembling of large
Hovercraft from Ukraine here is under discussions.
Naval aviation is refitting and upgrading the IL-38s now aging, and the
mammoth TU142 ASW planes with long range anti ship missiles. Four TU 22
nuclear capable maritime patrol planes are likely to be acquired and that
should be a big boost to the area of operations in the Indian Ocean .The
Suvarna class OPVs are likely
to be fitted with the Dhanush Prithvi SSM missiles, now that the
stabilization problems have been overcome by Larsen and Tubro with naval
ashore the Navy has made progress and the first phase of a jetty, shore
facilities and the area for a syncro lift at the new base Seabird near
Karwar is fast nearing fruition. The construction of the Naval academy at
Ezimalhai near Calicut has begun.