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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

India's Naval Growth

Conceptual view of INS Vikramaditya
There's a lot of discussion about China's naval programs and the prospect of s Chinese aircraft carrier taking to the seas sometime in the near future.

One Asian navy already operates a carrier, has trained carrier qualified pilots and a plan to grow its fleet by adding 50 modern ships to its force with a few years, including more carriers. Its goal is to have three operational carrier battle groups.

A summary report from NDTV on "How Indian Navy is expanding and modernising":
According to the report of the Standing Committee on Defence, tabled in Parliament in the last week of April, the Navy's short-term plan has the following objectives:

- Augment airborne maritime surveillance, strike, Anti-Submarine Warfare and air defence capability through induction of shore-based aircraft, integral helos, carrier based aircraft, space based AIS and UAVs, along with suitable weapons and sensors.

- Develop ASW (anti-submarine warfare) capability through induction of suitable platforms, weapons and sensors.

INS Viraat
- Build adequate standoff capability for sea lift and Expeditionary Operations to achieve desired power projection force levels, influence events ashore and undertake Military Operations Other Than War.

- Induct assets and develop suitable infrastructure to augment forces available for Low Intensity Maritime OperaINS Vtions (LIMO), protection of off- shore assets and Coastal Security framework.

- Induct force multipliers like satellite based global communications, reconnaissance and network enabled platforms to achieve Battle-Space dominance capability and perform network centric operations.

- Induct state-of-the-art equipment and specialised platforms for Special Forces to enhance niche capabilities to conduct Maritime Intervention Operations and other envisaged roles.

- Develop support infrastructure in island territories to support the planned force levels as well as support infrastructure for ships/submarines/aircrafts at ports and airbases.
Given the extensive plans presented to the Parliament, it is evident now that the Indian Navy is in the middle of its most ambitious expansion plan in the past three decades. Senior officers point out that the Indian Navy's perspective-planning in terms of 'force-levels' is now driven by a conceptual shift from 'numbers' of platforms - that is, from the old 'bean-counting' philosophy - to one that concentrates on 'capabilities'.

Naval headquarters says 50 modern ships are currently on order with majority being built in Indian shipyards. . .
INS Shivalik
Two stealth ships - INS Shivalik and INS Satpura - commissioned recently have been designed and built by public sector Mazgaon Docks Limited. The order books of India's oldest government-owned shipbuilders are full with the Navy wanting four more such guided missile frigates over the next five years.

There are more acquisitions in the pipeline. They include: four anti-submarine corvettes, four guided missile destroyers, three stealth frigates, six Scorpene submarines (being built at Mazgaon Docks with French technology and help) and two nuclear-powered submarines.

India's conventional diesel-powered submarine fleet is down to single digits right now but with the Russian-built Nerpa class nuclear submarine (leased for a decade) joining service earlier this year, the submarine arm has got a major boost. But the biggest force accretion in recent years has come in the form of Boeing Pi-8long range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR) plane that gives the Indian Navy a reach and capability to mount surveillance way beyond its traditional areas of influence.
According to its near-term plans, the Indian Navy has ambitions to become a three Battle Carrier Groups force by 2020.

While it's most prestigious acquisition-Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Gorshkov, to be renamed INS Vikramaditya - is likely to be inducted into the fleet latest by March 2013, one more carrier being built indigenously will most likely join the service by 2015.

Indian MiG-29
Currently India operates a lone Aircraft Carrier, INS Viraat, a British-built 1960s vintage ship that is on an extended lease of life thanks to the Navy's innovative engineers and planners.

Vikramaditya, once inducted, will give India the much needed edge in its maritime capabilities since it will come with the latest MiG-29 K series of aircraft. Indian Naval Aviators are already hard at work training themselves on the planes but away from the ship

MiG-29 photo from here.

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