Geopolitics - December 2017

(Joyce) #1
December 2017

last few decades. What's the warships fleet
strength envisaged for the force over the
next 10 years and what will be the break-up
of classification of warships in the planned
We are very much on course towards
our aim of being a 200-ship Navy in
the coming decade. The recent policy
reforms initiated by the government and
an enthusiastic domestic industry have
adequately complemented our efforts
in this pursuit. Our present strength is
about 139 ships and submarines. Time
bound deliveries of more than 30 under-
construction projects over the next few
years will maintain a healthy ratio of old
and new platforms.
Plans are afoot for next generation
frigates, destroyers, corvettes, missile
vessels and specialised platforms like
aircraft carrier and nuclear submarines.

It is true that the process of defence
acquisition is often time consuming
and laborious. In India, we do face
certain unique challenges such as
limited supplier base, a nascent defence
industry and inadequate technological
expertise in certain niche areas. These
issues put together add to the lead time
in any shipbuilding process. In addition
to all this, building and maintaining
a large Navy entails a substantial and
consistent financial commitment. It is
always a challenge for the Navy to strike
a balance between revenue and capital
expenditure. However, we work together
with the government and industry to
ensure that none of these challenges turn
into obstacles.

What is the current status of the IAC-1 con-
struction and when does the Navy envisage
its commissioning?
The Indigenous Aircraft Carrier is
progressing well and the ship will join the

Navy by end of 2020. We have analyzed it,
and fixed the form and fit. It is going to be
about 65,000 tonnes. It will have catapult-
assisted take-off and arrestor recovery. It
will be conventionally powered and we
are going through the process of taking it
to the (Defence) Ministry.

Please provide an overview of the efforts
by the Navy to boost its submarine warfare
We have a 30-year plan for a total force
level of 24 submarines. Project 75I is the
first project being progressed under the
Strategic Partner (SP) model. We have
floated an RFI for identifying OEMs
(original equipment manufacturers).
Responses have been received from four
OEMs and they are under examination.
A committee has been constituted for
identifying the Indian strategic partner.
We have launched the project to make
six SSNs (nuclear-powered submarines)
and I will not say any further as it’s a
classified project.
We have accepted the delivery of
Kalvari and we will formally commission
her very soon. Trials of Khanderi, the
second of the Kalvari Class, are also
progressing satisfactorily. Measures are
also underway to bolster the aviation arm
of the Navy by induction of new fighters,
surveillance aircraft and ship-borne
The Navy is at the threshold of joining
a select league of navies capable of
providing submarine search and rescue
in the Indian Ocean region with two
deep submergence rescue vessel systems
scheduled for induction next year.

Can you please tell our readers about the
Indian Navy's Multi role carrier-borne fight-
ers (MRCBF) procurement?
We will take the [MRCBF acquisition]
process forward. But the middle of next
year, we should be able to float the RFP
(request for proposals, as the tender is
called). We want these aircraft sooner
than later and have received proposals
from four vendors.
I don’t forsee any budgetary constraint
and the process has already started. The
proposals received are being studied
and by next year we will float Request for

What is your message to the all-women
Indian Naval Crew who is out to circum-
navigate the world? And, when do you think
women will be allowed in combat roles in
the Indian Navy?
Our best wishes are with the brave
young women who have embarked on

Equally important are the
men and women behind
these formidable machines
and the whole ecosystem of
training, maintenance and
logistics support

inventory. Equally important are the men
and women behind these formidable
machines and the whole ecosystem
of training, maintenance and logistics
support. The Indian Navy has taken
conscious steps to ensure the highest
standards in all these aspects in order to
maintain a highly combat worthy force.
We remain conscious of the expectations
of the nation from its maritime military
force and would continue to strive for
excellence to play our role effectively in
the overall national security construct.

It has been a year and half since you came
to head the Indian Navy. When you look
back what do you think have been your ma-
jor achievements?
The Navy itself is very much like a ship
whose performance is entirely dependent
on team work. It would, therefore, be
inappropriate to attribute the progress
made till date to one individual,
irrespective of rank and position. As a
proud member of this fine team, I am
certainly satisfied with where we stand
today; but I am also aware of the fact that
there’s much more which can be done.
The achievements of the Indian Navy over
the last year and a half, on the operational
front as well as in the field of capability
accretion are indeed credible.
There has been a steady improvement
in our maintenance standards as also
human resource management practices.
An ocean free of maritime threats, secure
coastline, unimpeded movement of
vessels through piracy prone areas and
our outreach to provide humanitarian
relief far from our shores have been
demonstrative of our capabilities and
resolve. The Indian Navy is increasingly
being recognised as a predominant
maritime force in the Indian Ocean and
beyond. Our outreach to the Indian
Ocean littorals for capacity building
and capability enhancement, joint
patrols and operational deployments
for enhancing maritime security and
facilitating constructive dialogue through
the IONS forum have all been well
received. It is particularly significant that
India’s endeavours in the Indian Ocean
have earned much appreciation for their
genuine spirit of equality, transparency
as well as respect for sovereignty and
international laws. This, I believe, is
the most important achievement; an
outcome of several years of efforts and
genuine commitment to regional security
and well-being.

The Indian Navy has emerged as a builder's
navy from being a buyer's navy over the

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