Indian Navy’s Top Commanders Gather To Discuss The Combat Readiness And Capability Roadmap Amid Threat in IOR
The Navy’s top commanders gathered for their biannual meeting to discuss the force’s operational, logistical and material preparedness and future plans. The Commanders will discuss the combat readiness in the Indian Ocean Region and beyond. It is to be noted that China is building a permanent Indian Ocean squadron and it has already been breaking norms and rules of the international maritime. While Indian Naval ships on Mission Based Deployments across the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) have remained poised for quick response, the Navy needs to fortify its capability for wider access and further operational deployments across the Ocean. Commanders will deliberate and find the way out for the timely acquisition of warships and submarines, including the Project P75 I to take off.
Photo Credit : IN,
Indian Navy's Commanders' Conference
The Navy’s top commanders gathered for their biannual meeting to discuss the force’s operational, logistical and material preparedness and future plans. The Commanders will discuss the combat readiness in the Indian Ocean Region and beyond. It is to be noted China is building a permanent Indian Ocean squadron and it has already been breaking norms and rules of the international maritime. While Indian Naval ships on Mission Based Deployments across the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) have remained poised for quick response, the Navy needs to fortify its capability for wider access and further operational deployments across the Ocean.
The second edition of Naval Commanders' Conference of 2021 is scheduled at New Delhi from 18 to 22 October 2021. The conference serves as a platform for Naval Commanders to discuss important maritime matters at the military-strategic level as well as interact with Senior Government Officials through an institutionalised forum. What it further adds that first time, in the spirit of jointness, on such occasion, the Chief of Defence Staff, and the Chiefs of Indian Army and Indian Air Force would also interact with the Naval Commanders to address convergence of the three Services vis-à-vis the operational environment, and on avenues for augmenting Tri-Service synergy.
Due to the rapidly changing geostrategic situation of the region, the significance and importance of the Conference is manifold. It is an institutionalised platform to deliberate, direct, devise and decide issues of utmost importance, which will shape future course of Indian Navy (IN).
While the India’s northern land border is turning into permanent front against the Chinese underhand, the Indian Ocean Region is also not spared by China. The Chinese submarines are increasingly scuttling in the deep-water, spreading its cover and malicious operation which is not just limited to South China Sea. China is building a permanent Indian Ocean squadron which is going to be in the direct conflict with the interest of India. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is moving at fast speed in laying ground for naval fleet and eventually will soon deploy and spread its warships across the bases in the IOR.
And, how worrisome is it? For the obvious reason the world has seen enough display of such Chinese warships, breaking all possible maritime norms and laws in the international water of South China Sea. The PLAN’s capability and strategy to encircle the IOR is no secret that it has already developed the combat ready fleet of more than 100 advanced destroyers, frigates, and corvettes. PLAN’s capability roadmap is so aggressive that it aims to double the number of fleets and aircraft carriers by 2025. China is planning a fleet of up to six aircraft carriers by 2035 out which three are already in the water and ready to be deployed soon for the power projection it is waiting so eagerly.
India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier IAC-1, or Vikrant, has just completed its first field trials. The Indian Navy is finally looking forward for two carriers. In addition to that, the Indian Navy is also gunning for the IAC-2 project towards a larger aircraft carrier in due course which is under the national debate as how many aircraft carriers does India need? Certainly, the case is only built around the security architecture so far. Reason for such explanation is based on the fact that an Aircraft carrier takes a huge capital expenditure along with operating expenditure with average cost of building an armed mid-size cost around $10 billion (Rs 75,000 cr). How does Indian navy make a case for this is important to watch out for. It is obvious that building an aircraft carrier is about a robust defence economy too.
Indian navy is recognized as a formidable power in the region which is based on the existing institutional strength and growing technological prowess. While there is no comparison with China in terms of budget and naval warship, the operational combat capability of Indian navy is among the best in the world as evident from the massive naval exercises it conducts with the navies of world from across the Indo Pacific and beyond. The Malabar Exercise is one such complex naval exercise with the three other powerful navies of the world- U.S., Australia and Japan. While China lacks on such vital and real -time operational skills, it is making up with next generation advance naval capabilities in sheer size and numbers.
India navy has set the roadmap for the faster acquisition and modernization to have a force level of 200 ships, 500 aircraft and 24 attack submarines as per navy Indian Navy’s Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCPP).
At the moment, China’s submarine fleet consists of more than 70 submarines, including seven nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), 12 nuclear attack submarines (SSN), and more than 50 diesel attack submarines. Indian Navy operates less than 20 submarine at the moment while a major initiative for next generation submarine like P 75 I is under the process. The project cost is over Rs 40,000 crore.
How is it unfolding? Ministry of Defence (MoD) has issued Request of Proposal (RFP) for the first acquisition programme under the Strategic Partnership Model for construction of 6 Air Independent Propulsion (AIP ) fitted Conventional Submarines named Project 75 I for the Indian Navy, on July 20, 2021. The RFP was issued to shortlisted Strategic Partners (SPs) or Indian Applicant Companies for the project Mazagaon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and Larsen & Tubro (L&T). Project-75(I) is based on the Fuel-Cell based AIP (Air Independent Propulsion Plant) and integrated with advanced torpedoes, modern missiles and state of the art countermeasure systems.
While the P75 I has taken off the paper where the Navy formularized the foundational and technical requirement based on the advancement in 2018, Project is yet to take shape in 2021. It does warrant a comparison here as Chinese Navy has already incorporated air-independent propulsion (AIP) system and quieting technology in its Yuan submarine.
The Challenges for the Navy to address the process is paramount as it could not afford to go on the beaten path of the lengthy delays. The crucial aspect at stake is the workability of the Strategic Partnership laid down in DAP 2020. How soon we get the first submarines is the factor that is foremost for the Indian navy.
On the day first, Navy also focused on the ‘Integrated Unmanned Road Map for Indian Navy’. According to the Navy’s spokesperson, it aims to provide a comprehensive Unmanned Systems Roadmap in consonance with the Indian Navy’s Concept of Operations and chart out a capability development plan for the Indian Navy. It is important that Indian Navy keeps the focus on the contours of such modern warfare—not a force multiplier but a force to reckon with.
While India navy ’s strength is formidable in the blue water, it is short of its objective which is defined as the guardian of the Indian Ocean Region. The concept that powerful navy is the true reflection of its economic might holds much ground today. Indian navy’s role broadens on such fundamentals that emerging India should embrace. Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh recently pointed out such sole of Indian navy as he said: “The Blue Economy holds out a promise and hope as a new frontier and engine of global growth amidst the gloom of the COVID-19 pandemic that has damaged the global economy. With India aiming to emerge as a $5 trillion economy, the only way to achieve this is to move outwards as the oceans provide a vast resource pool that can be tapped to spur India’s economic growth.” The Blue Economy contributes about 4 per cent of India’s GDP, there is tremendous potential to expand. The role of India firmly expand on this which is also the part of deliberation among the Commanders.
During the pandemic, In 2020-21, IN ships have undertaken multiple COVID related outreach missions to provide food and medical aid to IOR littoral nations and beyond as part of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region). IN ships deployed in the Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf continue to provide security for trade flowing through these areas.
The Chief of the Naval Staff, along with other Naval Commanders is going to review major operational, materiel, logistics, Human Resource Development, training and administrative activities undertaken by the Indian Navy in the last few months. But the most important, it is to deliberate upon future plans for important activities and initiatives which are going to be as unpredictable as the rising tide in the Indian Ocean.