Geopolitics - December 2017

(Joyce) #1
December 2017

submarines under Project 75(I), for
which the Navy has issued a Request
for Proposal a few months ago and has
received responses from four global
submarine-builders. It also has on order
four frigates: two to be built in Russia
and another two in an Indian shipyard.
India made its first-ever warship
export to the island nation of Mauritius
in December 2014. The patrol vessel was
built by Kolkata-based Garden Reach
Shipbuilders and Engineers, one of four
government-run shipyards. The same
company has been bidding to win export
orders, but without much success, from
Philippines and Vietnam. In 2014, India
agreed to sell Vietnam four offshore
patrol boats and that order has gone to a
private sector shipyard, L&T.
According to a senior officer of the
Indian Navy, "India wants to produce
all of the components on its naval
vessels domestically by 2030." Now it
only makes about a third of weapons
and sensors, and about 60 per cent of
propulsion systems. And to make that
happen, the Indian Navy wants private
companies to be involved.
This means that India's shipyards
will have to ramp up production in the
coming years, especially after factoring
in that some of India's current warships
will have to be retired by 2027. A more
likely scenario is that India will purchase
more foreign ships in the years ahead in
order to reach its target of 212 warships.
Recently, Reliance Defence announced
that it would invest $786 million in the
shipyard it had taken over a couple of

years ago from Pipavav.
India's four defence public sector
shipyards are Mumbai-based Mazagaon
Docks Limited (MDL), Kolkata-
based Garden Reach Shipbuilders
and Engineers (GRSE), Goa-based
Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) and
Visakhapatnam-based Hindustan
Shipyard Limited (HSL), which is the
latest entrant in governmental warship
building in the country.
India's four defence shipyards are
presently engaged in warship building
and repairs and refits. Indigenous
shipbuilding accounts for nearly `10,
crore on an average. It constitutes
nearly 60 per cent of the Nav y’s total
acquisition budget. The productivity
of the Indian Defence Public Sector
Undertaking shipyards is, however,
much below the levels achieved by
international standards. Whereas
the first tier yard like MDL (Mazagon
Dock Ltd) has a capacity to build 1.
warships a year, non-defence shipyard
like Cochin Shipyard Limited has
0.48 warships a year. The comparable
international standards are 5.7.
According to an international study,
on build-time trends, India's defence
PSUs are almost four times more than
the global standards. For instance, a
ship with displacement tonnage of 3,
tonnes in the US is built in 30 months
with 2,50,000 man hours, as against 72
months and 1.8 million man hours in
India. The example is the Godavari class
destroyers that India built.
The overall shipbuilding capacity of

It is this threat that India is looking
to counter in the coming years. To do
that India has cleared a $60-billion plan
to build warships over the next one-and-
a-half decades to counter the challenge
posed to it by China and Pakistan in the
Indian Ocean region.
India is a major maritime country.
It is predominantly peninsular in
nature boasting of a coastline of
7,515 kilometres with a sizable 1,
islands. India's geographic location
is strategically striding over major
maritime routes of the world. To defend
and secure such a vast maritime interest
of India and to counter the threats posed
by its rival naval forces, we require a large
fleet of warships and support vessels that
befits our geographical size, strategic
importance and global stature.
India's present fleet of 140-odd
warships falls far short of meeting any of
the three reasons for having a large naval
fleet. China, on the other hand, has over
300 vessels and is obviously the biggest
navy in Asia. China also boasts of at least
70 submarines, including those capable
of firing nuclear ballistic missiles, and
one aircraft carrier that is slowly but
steadily becoming operational. China
has already announced the building of
its first indigenous aircraft carrier with
nuclear propulsion.
Despite the unique advantages
of such a long coastline, history of
experience and expertise and availability
of cheap labour, the ship building
capacity of India is marred by time
overruns and low quality of product,
owing to various deficiencies.
The Indian Navy is seeking to have
212 warships operational by 2027, adding
up to five warships each year from now.
Most of them will be made in India; a
sign that moves to upgrade the country's
shipyards are starting to pay off for the
world's biggest importer of weapons.
India plans to add at least 100
new warships, including two aircraft
carriers, as well as three nuclear powered
submarines capable of firing nuclear-
tipped ballistic missiles by 2027, if it has
to meet its own fleet size target. India
currently has over 40 warships on order
at Indian shipyards, of which some of
the key projects including Project 15B
destroyers and Project 17A frigates,
apart from a slew of corvettes for anti-
submarine warfare, water jet fast attack
craft, offshore patrol vessels and a six-
submarine Project 75.
India has plans to build six
more conventional next-generation

Scorpene submarine
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