India keeping close tabs on China-Pak collusion in the IOR, revising plans: Navy chief

India keeping close tabs on China-Pak collusion in the IOR, revising plans: Navy chief

New Delhi: India keeps updating its operational and capability-development plans to counter China’s ever-expanding naval presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as well its growing collusiveness in the maritime domain with

Pakistan

,

Navy

chief Admiral R Hari Kumar said on Friday.

With the world’s largest Navy with over 360 warships and submarines, China now has “a sustained presence” in the IOR with six to eight warships deployed at any given time, apart from research or spy vessels and many fishing vessels.

Beijing is also assiduously working to establish logistical bases from Africa to the Malacca Strait.

“Pakistan is also looking at expanding its Navy from what it is today to a 50-platform force with the help of China. We are seized of it. Looking at these developments, we constantly revise our plans and capability-development programmes,” Admiral Kumar said, speaking in the run-up to the Navy Day on December 4.

China in May, for instance, delivered two Type 054A/P multi-role frigates to Pakistan to add to the two given earlier, while deliveries of eight Yuan-class diesel-electric submarines, with air-independent propulsion (AIP) for greater underwater endurance, are also slated to begin soon.

Given the budgetary constraints, the 132-warship

Indian Navy

with 140 aircraft and 130 helicopters now aims to have 175 warships with a corresponding increase in number of aircraft, helicopters and drones by 2035.

With older warships slated to progressively retire, the Navy currently has 67 warships and vessels on order in Indian shipyards and two frigates in Russia, collectively worth an estimated Rs 2 lakh crore.

“There is a sustained presence of Chinese warships in the IOR. We are cognizant of that, and we take action to monitor their activities so that we know who is operating where and what they are doing,” Admiral Kumar said, while expressing confidence at his force’s footprint and high operational tempo in the IOR and the larger Indo-Pacific.

Noting that China may have a legitimate reason to be present in the IOR for its economic activities, Admiral Kumar said, “But as the resident naval power, we keep an eye on what all is happening there. We try to keep the extra-regional forces present in the region under surveillance.”

The Navy keeps its units “mission-deployed” regularly across the IOR and beyond to protect, preserve and promote India’s national interests. By frequent interactions and exercises with the navies of friendly foreign countries, especially ones like the US, trust as well as interoperability are developed to tackle challenges together.

Navy vice chief Vice Admiral

Sanjay J Singh

, in turn, said that while China was certainly one of the leaders in developing new-age military technologies in satellites, cyber, space and other domains, India too has been “consistently investing” in improving its indigenous defence production capabilities and R&D base.

“Unless the defence-industrial base in our country is self-sustaining and self-reliant, we will not be able to meet the challenges ahead. As long as you are dependent on imports, you will remain vulnerable. So, significant strides have been taken in this regard in recent years,” he added.

Navy appoints first woman CO of small warship

The Navy has now appointed the first woman to command a fast-attack craft (FAC), a small warship meant for coastal patrol, in keeping with its philosophy of “all roles-all ranks” for female personnel, Admiral Kumar said.

The woman, a Lt Commander (equivalent to a Major in the Army), is now undergoing “pre-commissioning training” before taking command of the 260-tonne

INS Trinkat

, which has a crew of 33, on the western seaboard.

The Navy already has around 30 women officers deployed on major warships like aircraft carriers, destroyers and frigates, while several are also serving in its aviation wing. The chief said there was no restriction on women from even serving on board submarines or as marine commandos if they volunteered and cleared the stringent selection and training programmes.

Around 20 women Agniveers or sailors had appeared for the aptitude test for induction into the marine commandos but none of them qualified. Apart from around 600 officers, there are now 1,100 women Agniveers in the Navy, which include the first batch of 272 that graduated from INS Chilka in March this year. The rest are undergoing training now.

Govt making all-out efforts to get naval veterans back from Qatar

The government is making “all-out efforts” to ensure the eight former Indian Navy personnel on the death row in Qatar are brought back home, Admiral Kumar said on Friday.

“The ex-naval officers in Qatar are veterans…and we are interested in ensuring their welfare. We are working closely with all the agencies concerned to ensure that their interests are looked after,” the Navy chief said.

The seven retired officers and a sailor, who were arrested allegedly for espionage in August last year while they were working with a Doha-based private company Al Dahra Global Technologies and Consulting Services, were given the death sentence by Qatar’s Court of First Instance on October 26.

India described the ruling as “deeply” shocking, vowing to explore all legal options in the case. A higher court in Qatar has admitted an appeal recently filed against the death sentence.

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