This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
The Indian Navy is the seventh largest naval force in the world. The multi-dimensional combat force has several responsibilities for safeguarding the coast, maritime warfare and rescue operations during disasters. As we celebrate the 45th Indian Navy day, here are 10 amazing facts about our 'guardians of the oceans'.
1. First steps: Originally called the Royal Indian Navy, our supreme naval branch of the armed forces of India was founded in 1612 by the East India Company and renamed the Indian Navy on January 26, 1950 after independence.
2. The day: Interestingly, Navy Day doesn't commemorate the day the Indian Navy was founded. Rather, it is the day when the Indian Navy successfully executed Operation Trident, an attack on Pakistani Karachi Naval Headquarters in 1971.
3. The operation: In 1971, the Indian Navy executed a blockade, carrier aircraft bombing missions and cruise missile strikes against land targets. Using anti-ship cruise missiles to destroy Pakistani oil tank farms was quite innovative for its time.
4. The strength: The Indian Navy is currently the 7th largest navy. As of 2016, the Indian Navy has a strength of over 58,000 personnel and a large operational fleet consisting of two aircraft carriers , one amphibious transport dock , 19 Landing ship tanks , 10 destroyers , 15 frigates , one nuclear-powered attack submarine , 14 conventionally-powered attack submarines , 25 corvettes , 7 mine countermeasure vessels , 47 patrol vessels , 4 fleet tankers, 1 Missile submarine and various other auxiliary vessels.
5. First aircraft carrier: INS Viraat was the Indian Navy's first aircraft carrier and the oldest aircraft carrier in the world. Its second aircraft carrier is the INS Vikramaditya. Additionally, INS Vikrant is the first aircraft carrier to have been manufactured in India.
6. First ballistic missile submarine: The INS Arihant is a 6,000 tonne vessel and the lead ship in Indian Navy's nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. INS Arihant is the first ballistic missile submarine to have been built by a country other than one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
7. The sea lions: MARCOS or Marine Commandos, also known as 'magarmach', are the special operations unit of the Indian Navy. Terrorists often call MARCOS 'Dadiwali fauj' because of their bearded disguises in civil areas. Magarmachs played a huge role during the rescue mission of the hostages during the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.
8. The pride: There are only three naval aerobatic teams in the world and one of them is Indian Navy's Sagar Pawan (Sea Breeze).
9. Another successful mission: The Indian Navy has successfully completed an expedition to the North Pole and the South Pole. On April 9, 2008, a ten-member team of the Indian Navy created history by reaching the North Pole and joining an elite group of adventurers who have conquered the "three poles".
10. First to conquer Mt. Everest: The Indian Navy was the first navy to send a submariner on an expedition to Mt. Everest. On May 18, 2004, the Indian Navy's team, comprising Surgeon Lieutenant Viking Bhanoo, a Navy doctor, and Leading Medical Assistants Rakesh Kumar and Vikas Kumar tasted success when they summitted Mt. Everest from the North face, using the North-East ridge to the top of the mountain.
MUMBAI: Three Indian Navy sailors were killed and 11 sustained burn injuries in an explosion on board the Rajput-class destroyer, INS Ranvir, at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai.
The explosion occurred around 4.45pm in an internal compartment of the destroyer, which was anchored at Mumbai on cross-coast deployment from Eastern Naval Command at Visakhapatnam.
Though the board of inquiry ordered into the mishap will ascertain the exact details, sources said the blast was probably due to leakage of gas in the air-conditioning compartment of the 4,000-tonne warship. “Those who died were sitting in their cabin adjoining the AC compartment when the blast occurred. The cabin collapsed on them. The blast was not ammunition-related,” a source told TOI.
Dockyard explosion: INS Ranvir packed with array of weapons
Adefence spokesperson, in turn,said: “The ship’s crew responded immediately and brought the situation under control. No majormaterial damage has been reported. A BoI has been investigated into the cause of the accident.”
The families of the three deceased sailors, who were from Visakhapatnam, have been informed about the incident, said sources. The injured have been shifted to INHS Asvini hospital at Colaba.
INS Ranvir is the fourth of thefive Rajput-class destroyers built for the Indian Navy in Russia which was commissioned in October 1986. Its home base is at Visakhapatnam. Theship was ona three-month cross-coast deployment and was in Mumbai’s Western Naval Command. “INS Ranvir has been on a cross-coast operational deployment from the Easter n Naval Command since November 2021 and was due to return to base port shortly,” said the spokesperson.
The explosion occurred barely eight days prior to Republic Day. Earlier, on August 14, 2013, 18 naval personnel were kil- led when a seriesof blasts occurredinside the Indian Navy submarine Sindhurakshak a day before Independence Day.
Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar had commanded INS Ranvir earlier in his career. It is packed with a wide array of weapons, including the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.
P-81s’ performance in Doklam, 2017
NEW DELHI: Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat on Monday said that he came to know about the capabilities of Indian Navy's P-8I aircraft after they were deployed in Doklam during the 73-day-long stand-off with China in 2017.
General Bipin Rawat, who was Army Chief at that time, said: "I came to know about the capabilities of the P-8I anti-submarine warfare planes after they were deployed in Doklam for surveillance."
The P-8I aircraft is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon aircraft that Boeing developed as a replacement for the US Navy's ageing P-3 fleet. Indian Navy became the first international customer for the P-8 aircraft with the conclusion of the nearly $2.1 billion contract on January 1, 2009 for eight aircraft.
"The P-8I aircraft were the most potent platform to carry out surveillance — be it sea or mountains. The aircraft were live-streaming data to support decision making during the Doklam face-off," said defence expert Capt D K Sharma (retd).
The P-8Is were also deployed to keep an eye on movement of Pakistani troops after the Pulwama terror attack last year.
Sharma said deployment of the P-8Is signified synergy among the Army and the Navy in dealing with the major crisis.
The P-8I aircraft is equipped for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of the broad area, maritime and littoral operations. Its communication and sensor suite includes indigenous equipment developed by defence PSUs and private manufacturers.
With its high speed and high endurance of about 10 hours, the aircraft is capable of thrusting a punitive response and maintaining a watch over India's immediate and extended areas of interest.
The P-8I aircraft are based at INS Rajali and are operated by Indian Naval Air Squadron 312A.
The first P-8I aircraft was inducted into the Indian Navy in 2013 and, at present, it has a fleet of eight P-8Is.
In 2016, the defence ministry had placed a follow-on order for four additional P-8I, the delivery of which will begin by April 2020.
Last year, the government cleared procurement of another batch of six P-8Is.
As in 2021/ President’s Colour
Naval Aviation to get President’s Colour next wk
The Indian Naval Aviation, which currently has over 250 aircraft and helicopters including 45 supersonic MiG-29K fighter jets, will next week be awarded the President’s Colour, the highest honour bestowed on a military unit in recognition of its exceptional service to the nation.
President Ram Nath Kovind will be accompanied by defence minister Rajnath Singh and the military brass at the ceremonial parade at naval base INS Hansa in Goa on September 6.
The Indian Naval Aviation came into existence with the acquisition of the first Sealand aircraft in January 1951, followed by the commissioning of the first naval air station INS Garuda at Kochi in May 1953.
“Aircraft carrier INS Vikrant with its Sea Hawk jets and Alize aircraft played a key role in the liberation of Goa in 1961, and then again in the 1971 Indo-Pak war, where its presence on the eastern seaboard proved decisive,” said an officer. TNN
Maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft
Aviation and defence colossus Boeing delivered India’s 12th maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare P-8I aircraft on Thursday (February 24). The first of these aircraft was inducted in 2013, and it made India the first country outside the United States to get one. The Navy has been receiving them regularly since.
The aircraft is designed for “long-range anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions”, according to its maker, and is a “multi-mission aircraft” with “state of the art sensors, proven weapons systems, and a globally recognised platform”.
First in US and India
The first aircraft produced by Boeing flew in 2009, and has been in service with the US Navy since 2013, the same year as the Indian Navy. Apart from India and the US, it has been chosen by six other militaries in the world.
The aircraft has two variants — the P-8I, which is manufactured for the Indian Navy, and the P-8A Poseidon, which is flown by the US Navy, the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, and the Royal Norwegian Air Force. It has also been selected by the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the Republic of Korea Navy, and the German Navy.
According to Boeing, the P-8 is a “multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft, excelling at anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and search and rescue”.
While the Indian Navy uses it for maritime operations, the aircraft was also used in eastern Ladakh in 2020 and 2021, when the standoff with China was at its peak, to keep an eye on Chinese troops and their manoeuvres.
The aircraft for the Indian Navy are called P-8I, and have replaced the ageing Soviet/Russian Tupolev Tu-142s. The P-8Is are capable of anti-submarine; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); patrolling, coastline defence, and other operations.
In 2009, India had placed an order for eight planes, which were called P-8A Poseidon multimission maritime aircraft (MMA), by the US Navy. The order had a clause allowing the purchase of four more aircraft later. India exercised that option, and placed the order for four more aircraft in 2016.
The first eight of these aircraft are stationed at INS Rajali in Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu, on the eastern coast. The batch of the additional four are part of another squadron at INS Hansa in Goa, named Indian Naval Air Squadron 316.
The P-8I started operations at INS Hansa in January, after the first of them reached there on December 30, 2021. “The aircraft were inducted after fitment of indigenous equipment and Flight Acceptance Trials. On arrival, the aircraft were welcomed by a MiG 29K formation,” the Navy had said in January.
The P-8I can fly as high as 41,000 feet, and has a short transit time, which reduces the size of the “Area of Probability when searching for submarines, surface vessels or search and rescue survivors”. It is also used for low altitude, and humanitarian, and search and rescue missions.
The aircraft has two engines, and is about 40 metres long, with a wingspan of 37.64 metres. Each aircraft weighs about 85,000 kg, and has a top speed of 490 knots, or 789 km/hour. It requires a crew of nine, and has a range of 1,200+ nautical miles, with 4 hours on station, which means about 2,222 km.
According to Boeing, more than 140 P-8 aircraft have “executed more than 400,000 mishap free flight-hours around the globe”.
The aircraft comes with one of the most advanced weapon systems in the world, and has a life of around 25 years, or 25,000 hours in the “harshest maritime flight regimes, including extended operations in icing environments”.
It is one of Boeing’s “most advanced aircraft”, and the P-8A “uses a first-in-industry in-line production system”. It plays a “crucial role in being the eyes of the Indian Navy and carrying out critical maritime operations”, and provides it a “significant edge in the strategically important Indian Ocean region,” Boeing says.
The Navy’s fleet has surpassed 29,000 flight-hours since their induction in 2013, and is responsible for coastal patrolling, search-and-rescue, anti-piracy, and supporting operations of other arms of the military, it says.
INS Imphal: guided-missile destroyer/ 2019
INS Imphal, the new guided-missile destroyer New Delhi:
The first warship to be christened after a city in the northeast, the guided-missile destroyer Imphal, was “launched” into water at the Mazagon Docks in Mumbai on Saturday. Though the ship’s launch weight was 3,037-tonne, it will go up to a massive 7,300-tonne once it is ready for commissioning with all its weapon systems, including BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, as well as sensors in another three to four years.
Once it is commissioned as INS Imphal, after its two earlier underconstruction sister warships Visakhapatnam and Mormugao launched in 2015-2016, it will join the ranks of operational destroyers named INS Delhi, INS Mumbai, INS Mysore, INS Kolkata, INS Kochi and INS Chennai. “The ongoing tradition is to name indigenously-constructed destroyers, which are second only to aircraft carriers in size and combat power, after a state capital or big city,” said an officer. Similarly, the slightly smaller frigates are named after mountain ranges, rivers or weapons like INS Shivalik, INS Sahaydri and INS Trishul. The corvettes, in turn, are named after smaller personal weapons like INS Kirpan and INS Khanjar.
Imphal, which was launched by Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba’s wife Reena in keeping with maritime traditions, is third of the four Visakhapatnam-class missile destroyers being constructed under “Project-15B” at MDL for around Rs 30,000 crore. “Project-15B warships feature cutting-edge advanced technology, comparable to the best ships of similar class anywhere in the world. Designed indigenously by the Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design, each ship spans 163-metre in length and 17.4-metre at beam, with a displacement of 7,300-tonne,” said an officer.
“These ships, which can operate two multi-role helicopters each, are propelled by four gas turbines to achieve speed in excess of 30 knots. The destroyers incorporate new design concepts for improved survivability, sea keeping, stealth and manoeuvrability,” he added.
The Navy, which currently has 140 warships and 220 aircraft, has 32 warships under construction in domestic shipyards at a total cost of Rs 1.26 lakh crore to replace its aging fleets and plug operational gaps.
The Navy's new destroyer Mormugao: 10 facts
Mormugao, the Navy's newest stealth destroyer, will be launched at the week-end in Mumbai. The vessel was built by Maximum City's Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders - India's foremost shipyard - which has already delivered six major warship to the Indian Navy since 2010.
Here are ten key facts about INS Mormugao.
1. Mormugao is the second of Mazagaon Dock Shipbuilders' 15B Class Navy stealth destroyers. Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba will launch the new vessel in Mumbai on Saturday.
2.Named after a Goan city
Murmugao weighs 7,300 tonnes, and is named after the Goan port of Mormugao.
3. 'Indigenized' ship
More than 60% of the ship will be built in India. In other words, it will highly 'indigenized.' The Navy plans to increase the degree of 'indigenization' in its 15B ships to 68%.
4.A guided-missile destroyer
Mormugao is a guided-missile destoyer, a kind of warship that can launch missiles whose trajectories can be modified during flight to attack mobile targets. It will also be stealthier than its predecessor in the 15B series of destroyers.
5."More teeth" for the Navy
Mormugao has Barak-8 long-range missiles, which have been jointly developed by Israel and India. For Vice Admiral G S Pabby, the new vessel adds "more teeth" to the Navy.
6.One Mazagon ship every year since 2010
Mazagaon Dock Shipbuilders has been suppying the Navy with warships at the rate of one a year since 2010. INS vessels Shivalik, Satpura, Sahyadri, Kolkata, Kochi and Chennai have all been delivered.
The first ship in the 15B class - INS Vishakapatnam - which was lauched in April last year. It is expected to be commissioned by the Navy in 2018
8.Mormugao one of four 15B ships sanctioned
The Manmohan Singh-led UPA government had in 2011 had sanctioned four 15 B ships, and had earmarked Rs 29,700 crores for the project.
9.Vizag, Mormugao, and next, Paradip
The next ship in the 'Vishakapatnam' series is Paradip, the name of a coastal Gujarati city.
10.A stepping stone in an ambitious project
Vice Admiral G S Pabby said the launch of Mormugao was only a 'stepping stone' to even more shipbuilding. The Navy, he explained, has set itself the 'challenging' target of increasing its fleet size to 212 by 2027.
Indigenous guided missile destroyer/2021
With China now fast constructing two more aircraft carriers to add to its two existing ones, the Indian Navy has finally got a longdelayed shot in the arm with a new indigenous guidedmissile destroyer (INS Visakhapatnam) even as its second aircraft carrier undergoes another set of sea trials, reports Rajat Pandit. The first of the four 7,400-tonne stealth destroyers being constructed at Mazagon Docks, under a contract inked in 2011, was delivered to the Navy after a delay of over three years.
As in 2020 Jan
Fund-hit Navy set to scrap ₹20k cr tender
May Cut 2027 Goal To Have 212 Warships By 37
In keeping with futuristic weapon technologies, coupled with the need for fiscal prudence, the Navy has gone in for a major rationalisation and re-prioritisation of its long-term force level plans and arms procurement projects.
Defence ministry sources say the Navy is the first among the armed forces to finalise a rationalisation plan for its capital acquisition projects, which ranges from withdrawing some tenders or Request for Proposals (RFPs) to reducing numbers in other mega programmes.
The maritime force currently has 125 warships and 15 diesel-electric and two nuclear submarines, along with 235 aircraft, helicopters and drones. Given the budget constraints, it would be reasonably happy to become a 175-warship force by 2027 despite the earlier 212-warship plan.
For starters, the RFP for the construction of four large amphibious warfare warships or landing platform docks at a cost ofRs 20,000 crore by the private sector is going to get scrapped.
The long-pending mega project to build 12 Mine Counter-Measure Vessels, or warships designed to detect, track and destroy enemy mines, at the Goa Shipyard for Rs 32,000 crore will also get slashed. “The project will be limited to eight MCMVs now,” said the source.
Another step will be to cut down the Rs 3,621 crore acquisition of 10 Kamov-31 AEW (airborne early warning) helicopters from Russia to six.
As in 2022 Dec
INS Mormugao, the Indian navy’s latest destroyer of the Project 15B class commissioned yesterday, signifies the substance of the navy’s hard power with an appropriate degree of symbolism as well. On December 19, 1961, the Indian Tricolour was raised in Goa and the Portuguese forces surrendered. Perhaps coincidentally, the ship has another symbolic connection: She first sailed for sea trials on December 19 last year on the day Goa and India were celebrating 60 years of liberation.
The P15 family of ships
When the captain commissions his ship in the presence of the defence minister, a galaxy of flag officers, veterans, teams from the shipyard, and the families of those who make up the ship’s company, it marks an important transition to becoming and behaving like a warship. This doesn’t happen overnight and doesn’t happen merely because of the commissioning. There will be a lot of hard work ahead, including what the navy calls a workup by the Flag Officer Sea Training and his tough taskmasters.
But, there are aspects that find Mormugao in a better shape than earlier ships of the class. Due to policy decisions taken some years ago, ships now complete most of their trials and even weapon firings before commissioning so that they are ready to go in harm’s way sooner. The Project-15 (P15) class with INS Delhi, India’s first home-built destroyer, commissioned in November 1997, set a new benchmark.
Apart from three ships of the P15 class, there have been three of the P15A named the Kolkata class. Visakhapatnam was the lead ship of the P15B class followed by Mormugao. Sailing in their wake will be Imphal and finally, Surat.
Mormugao reaped some of the dividend that comes from a long line of the same class of ship from the same builder, Mazagon Docks. She has taken the shortest build time of about seven years due to integrated shipbuilding, while the Delhi took over 10 years. This is an improvement but provides limited satisfaction.
First, a drop of build time from 10-plus years to about 6-7 years over a 35-year build period, is by itself not impressive. Second, there are DNA commonalities between all three sub-classes of the P15, so efficiencies should have been better. On the plus side, there have been generational improvements in each sub-class. Both in terms of combat capabilities, as well as indigenous content. “Indianisation” percentages have improved in the “float and fight” components when compared to the P15s.
The increasing share of indigenisation The steel for the hull and superstructure is of course now made in India; more of the electronic components for electronic warfare, communications and radars are now either Indian-origin or licence-built in larger numbers with knowledge accretion from Indian partner firms in the public and private sectors.
Weapons and their launchers are collaborative, like the accurate and lethal Brahmos land-attack and antiship missiles; the main and secondary guns as well as anti-submarine ordnance which is now more “Indian”than anytime earlier. That is all for the good. But there also have been other design improvements across evolutionary processes that benefit stability, damage control, sea-keeping and stealth, besides habitability and leaner manning through more automation and improved systems needing fewer operators.
Aviation support for a few types of helicopters, including the incoming US-origin multi-role MH-60R boosts the “seeing” and fighting prowess of these destroyers.
Where we need to progress
It is in the “move” area, or propulsion, that these ships reflect the big lacunae of all our frigates and destroyers still requiring imported gas turbines. Neither in aero nor in marine gas-turbines do we as yet have any indigenous options even under imported transfer of technology.
Until this is a national mission we perhaps won’t find an answer. Given the turmoil in Russia and Ukraine,ships that depend on hardware fromthese two countries could faceproblems that ultimately, only honest‘atmanirbharta’ can address. Across three generations, the P15 class will have 10 ships which is probably the greatest number of the same family. This is very positive and reflects the growing attention paid to enhancing efficiencies through easierlogistics, maintenance and training commonalities.
It would be a matter of immensepride for all “Goenkars” – and thiswriter is one – to see a ship that so fullysymbolises Goa’s maritime core, and Goa’s liberation. Mormugao that came to life yesterday personifies hardpower ready to be used for the defenceof India should there be need for it. In India we do not have the custom of eponymously named ships being given“freedom of the city/town” by givingthe crew a symbolic key to the city bythe mayor. Perhaps this is somethingthat could be done for the good shipMormugao? We wait to sight her on thehorizon and shout, Mormugao Ahoy!
INS Sarvekshak: lit up with solar power/ 2017
For the first time in the country , solar panels have been installed on an Indian warship. The survey class vessel INS Sarvekshak, attached with the southern naval command, has been fitted with 18 sheets of solar panels atop its hangar.
“It took about six months to put the entire system in place. We are now using solar energy for lights and a couple of air conditioners,“ said Captain Rajesh Bargoti, commanding officer of the ship.
The 300-watt panels generate about 5.4kW power.
Bargoti said one of the challenges faced by the project was that marine environments were not suitable for normal solar panels, as saline and humid surroundings would damage it. “Also, the wind speed can affect the panels, which may get uprooted while at sea. So, we had to look at flexible panels that had anti-rust properties, were marine compatible, could withstand high wind speeds, perform on flat installations and had very low weight,“ he explained.
“We have 10 batteries which are used for storage. which are used for storage.So, we have been using only solar power for the purpose of lighting during sail.When we are anchored, we use power supplied by the state electricity board and not diesel,“ said electrical engineer Commander Sreejith Thampi.
He added that they were already noting down meter reading of solar power consumption so as to carry out a power audit and look at using solar power for more devices.
Project 17A ships
Navy's indigenous advanced frigate 'Himgiri' makes first contact with water
KOLKATA: 'Himgiri', the first of the three Project 17A ships being built at Kolkata's Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSE), made her first contact with the waters of Hoogly River on Monday.
Project 17A has upheld India's vision for Atmanirbhar Bharat. P17A ships have been indigenously designed by Directorate of Naval Design (Surface Ship Design Group) - DND (SSG), and are being built at indigenous yards namely Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and GRSE.
General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was the chief guest at the ceremony. In keeping with Naval traditions Smt Madhulika Rawat, spouse of CDS, launched the ship to the chanting of invocations from the Atharva Veda. The ship has taken its name and crest of the second Frigate of the Leander Class of ships, which incidentally was launched 50 years ago in 1970.
"Under the Project 17A programme, a total of seven ships, four at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and three ships at GRSE are being built with enhanced stealth features, advanced indigenous weapon and sensor fit along with several other improvements. The launch of 'Himgiri' has showcased GRSE's commitment towards the building of three state-of-the-art warships of P17A for Indian Navy," said a press communique issued by ministry of defence (Eastern Command).
Over the years, GRSE has emerged as a leading shipyard having built over 100 ships. The yard has scaled up its infrastructure and skill sets to meet new challenges in building of P17A ships. P17A ships are the first gas turbine propulsion and largest combat platforms ever built at GRSE.
According to MoD spokesperson, naval shipbuilding provides a great opportunity to energise India's economy post Covid-19 situation. Project 17A ships are sourcing 80 per cent of the material and equipment required for the project from indigenous vendors and with employment generation for over 2000 Indian firms and MSMEs within the country.
"Modular construction of the ship through outsourcing, and integrated construction methodology are being used to enhance GRSE's productivity for delivery of ship targeted in August 2023," a statement said.
Tupolev-142 M aircraft
The Times of India, Nov 18, 2013
India's maritime hawk completed 25 years of yeomen service in 2013
The world’s largest and fastest turboprop aircraft, aptly named the "Albatross" or the "Mighty Bird", the TU-142M planes first joined the INAS 312 maritime reconnaissance squadron from Russia in 1988.
Quietly keeping a hawk-eye on hostile warships, submarines, pirates and other inimical forces in the wide Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the Tupolev-142M aircraft have now clocked 25 years of operations in the Navy without a single accident.
The world's largest and fastest turboprop aircraft, aptly named the "Albatross" or the "Mighty Bird", the TU-142M planes first joined the INAS 312 maritime reconnaissance squadron from Russia in 1988.
The TU-142M's silver jubilee was celebrated at naval air station INS Rajali in Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu, with Eastern Naval Command chief Vice admiral Anil Chopra reviewing the flypast and parad.
Though the seven fuel-guzzling TU-142M aircraft in the squadron have clearly aged, the Navy says they are still "effective force-multipliers" that are always in the "forefront" of all maritime operations.
"TU-142Ms were the first true LRMR (long-range, maritime reconnaissance) patrol aircraft of the Navy. They have performed yeomen service over the years. Having undergone overhauls and life-extensions in Russia, we plan to keep them in service till at least 2018," said an officer.
With a 50-metre wing-span and a range of over 12,000 km, the TU-142M has a speed of around 850 kmph. "They also have the highest flying altitude among turboprops, with an operational ceiling of over 13,000 metre," he said.
Apart from snooping, the TU-142Ms also have potent anti-submarine and electronic warfare capabilities. "They have a 10-member crew, fitted as they are with lot of sensors. They can also carry at least five torpedoes as well as freefall bombs and depth charges," he said.
The TU-142Ms will gradually be replaced by the dozen P-8I aircraft India is buying from the US for around $3.5 billion. Under the first $2.1 billion contract inked with Boeing in January 2009, the second of the eight contracted P-8I touched down at INS Rajali earlier this month. "All eight will be delivered by 2015," said another officer.
Armed with deadly Harpoon Block-II missiles, MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, rockets and depth charges, the radar-packed P-8I aircraft will be India's "intelligent hawk-eyes" over the IOR that is increasingly getting militarized.
China in particular has stepped up its submarine activity in the IOR as well as systematically forged extensive maritime linkages with eastern Africa, Seychelles, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan, among others.
With a maximum speed of 907 kmph and an operating range of over 1,200 nautical miles, "with four hours on station", the P-8Is will be able to detect "threats" — and neutralize them if required — far before they come anywhere near Indian shores.
Much like the TU-142Ms, the P-8Is will work in conjunction with medium-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft and Israeli Searcher-II and Heron UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to establish an effective three-tier surveillance grid in IOR.
Apart from the need to take care of its primary area of strategic interest stretching from Persian Gulf to Malacca Strait, India also has a vast 5,422-km coastline, 1,197 islands and 2.01 million sq km of Exclusive Economic Zone to guard against all threats. "The P-8Is will help in this," said the officer.
Another iconic naval platform is set for retirement after aircraft carrier INS Viraat. The Soviet-origin Tupolev-142M aircraft, which helped the force keep a hawkeye on enemy warships and submarines in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) for almost 30 years, will be decommissioned later this month.
The Navy had inducted eight TU-142Ms, aptly named eight TU-142Ms, aptly named the `Albatross', since 1988. It was the world's largest and fastest turboprop aircraft.“They were the backbone of our long-range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR) and anti-submarine warfare operations. But only three are fully operational now. They will now be retired at the naval air station INS Rajali in Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu at a ceremony on March 29,“ said an officer.
The TU-142Ms are being replaced by the 12 Poseidon-8I long-range patrol aircraft -eight have already been inducted -acquired from the US for $3.2 billion. Packed with radars and armed with deadly Harpoon Block-II missiles, MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, rockets and depth charges to destroy enemy submarines.The Navy also operates the P-8Is from INS Rajali.
The fuel-guzzling TU-142M aircraft were the first true LRMR of the Indian Navy . With a 50-metre wingspan and a combat radius of 6,500 km, the TU-142M has a speed of around 850 kmph.“They also have the highest flying altitude among turboprops, with an operational ceiling of over 13,000 metres,“ said an officer.
With a 10-member crew, the TU-142Ms can carry at least five torpedoes as well as free-fall bombs and depth charges. “But the sensors and weapon systems of TU-142Ms have become outdated with age, apart from requiring heavy maintenance and costly spare parts, the officer said.
“If the TU-142Ms were hawk-eyes, the P-8Is are far more potent intelligent hawk-eyes,“ he added.
This comes in the backdrop of Chinese submarines, both conventional as well as nuclear, making forays into the IOR on a regular basis now, with an operational turnaround at Karachi, as was earlier reported by TOI.
Much like the TU-142Ms earlier, the P-8Is now work in conjunction with mediumrange maritime reconnaissance aircraft like the IL-38s and Israeli Searcher-II and Heron UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to establish a threetier surveillance grid in IOR.
Apart from the need to take care of its primary area of strategic interest stretching from Persian Gulf to Malacca Strait, India also has a vast 5,422-km coastline, 1,197 islands and 2.01 million sq km of Exclusive Economic Zone to guard against all threats.
2011-15: Forcing Gulf of Aden pirates out
The Times of India Dec 22 2015
The Western Naval Command (WNC), which controls anti-piracy operations from the city , says it has achieved a major success in combating the menace.
The Navy announced that intensive patrolling in Gulf of Aden and off the Somalia coast has led to pirates shifting bases.
The two locations are important sea lanes for trade. Currently , INS Trishul, extensively patrols the seas at these locations and is the pivot of the anti-piracy missions.
On December 3, aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya along with several other wars hips took part in patrolling Gulf of Aden and the Somalia coast. Last year, there were four attacks by pirates in Gulf of Aden and three off Somalia coast. The Navy has so far escorted 3,000 merchant vessels to safety and foiled piracy attacks on 46 ships at other locations. A report by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) showed a decrease in piracy cases reported across the world.
While 245 cases took place last year, the figure for 2015 is 223. The IMB, which is based in the United Kingdom, said a crackdown by the Navy has reduced serious attacks in Southeast Asia. A day prior to the Navy Day celebrations, the WNC Vice Admiral SPS Cheema said the economy is directly linked to the growth in commerce and most of India's voluminous trade is carried out using the sea route for import and export.
“The Middle East remains a key source of the country's crude oil imports. The Navy ensures that the trade via the sea is safe at all times thereby guaranteeing unhindered growth of our economy,“ said Cheema. The pirates have been kept on their toes since 2011 when the Navy and the Coast Guard officials caught 120 of them from Somalia in three different attacks. Given India's location, the Navy is required to continuously monitor eight major shipping lanes, with a large number of foreign warships being present round the clock. More than one lakh ships pass through the waters along India's coast annually .
As in 2016
Andaman & Nicobar Command
2016: Submarine hunterskillers deployed
The Times of India, Jan 19 2016
To fight China A&N forays, India deploys sub hunters With Chinese nuclear and conventional submarines regularly popping up in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), India has now begun to deploy its latest long-range maritime patrol aircraft as well as spy drones at its forward military base in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Defence ministry sources on Monday said two of the country's most potent submarine hunterskillers, the naval Poseidon-8I aircraft, are just about to complete their first-ever two-week deployment to the strategically-located A&N archipelago. “Navy and IAF are also deploying their (Israeli) Searcher-II unmanned aerial vehicles to the islands on a temporary basis,“ said a source.
India has inducted eight P-8I aircraft, acquired under a $2.1 billion deal inked in January 2009 with US aviation major Boeing, at its INS Rajali naval air station in Arakkonam (Tamil Nadu). With an operating range of over 1,200 nautical miles and a maximum speed of 907 kmph, the radarpacked P-8Is are especially geared to gather intelligence and detect threats in the IOR as “intelligent hawk-eyes“.
Armed as they are with deadly Harpoon Block-II missiles, MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, rockets and depth charges, the P-8Is can neutralise enemy submarines and warships if required. “Acquisition of another four P-8Is is in the final stages. P-8Is can operate from Port Blair (naval air station INS Utkrosh) to keep tabs on the entire region,“ said the source.
But while this is a muchneeded operational requirement, India's first and only theatre command in the shape of Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC) continues o suffer from relative neglect despite the Modi government making it a top priority . Much more needs to be done at a fas er pace to ensure ANC, with requisite military force-levels and infrastructure, can ef ectively act as a pivot to coun er China's strategic moves in OR as well as ensure security of sea lanes converging towards the Malacca Strait.
Sources said “not much progress“ has been made in he overall plan to have enough infrastructure and maintenance support with more airstrips and jetties in the 572-island cluster, extend ing over 720-km, to eventually deploy a division-level force (around 15,000 troops), a fight er squadron and some major warships there. As of now amid turf wars among Army Navy and IAF as well as fund crunches and environmenta concerns, ANC has just over an infantry brigade (3,000 sol diers), 20 small warships and patrol vessels, and a few Mi-8 helicopters and Dornier-228 patrol aircraft.
Bilateral maritime exercises
The 2016 edition of the annual bilateral maritime exercise between the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy, held on December 5 – 16, at Mumbai and Goa.
Named after the Western coastal region of India, exercise Konkan was institutionalised in 2004 and is hosted in rotation by both the navies.
INS Trikand traveled to UK naval Base Devonport in 2015 for the 2015 iteration of the exercise.
Conduction in two phases at Mumbai and Goa:
The first phase: from Dec 5-9 would be a command planning exercise involving the two navies, where planners from both sides undertake planning for combined maritime operations.
The second phase is a live exercise (LIVEX), to be held from Dec 12 – 16 at Goa, and involves interaction between the IN Marine Commandos (MARCOs) and the Royal Marines. Both phases will involve sharing of best practices and lessons learnt from recent operations, especially in the field of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) and non-combatant evacuation operations (NEO).
Dry dock to repair warships
The country’s first state-of-the-art dry dock, which was successfully tested on Thursday with the warship INS Kolkata, will be commissioned on September 28.
Naval officers said the dock will be dedicated to the Indian naval command and has the capacity to dock the aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, for repair and maintenance, not to speak of nuclear submarines. With a length of 281 metres, width of 45 metres and depth of close to 17 metres—almost equivalent to a five-storey building—the dry dock is nothing short of a construction marvel.
“It will not only reduce vessel maintenance expenses that the Navy incurs at private shipyards, but will also enhance defense capability to load advanced arms and ammunition onto out premiere warships,” said an officer.
The dock, equipped with robotic machinery, can overhaul ships in quick succession. It has a facility to enable container trucks carrying ship spare parts to station themselves along repair bays, so that engineers don’t have to waste time procuring the parts from a distance.
The nine-year construction of the dock was preceded by a major operation to remove sunken ships and barges from the site, as well as the removal of bedrock to accommodate the massive structure, which comprises fit-out berths, caisson (a type of lock gate that is opened for a ship's entry into the dock) and a cofferdam.
Unlike the country’s other dry docks, the new one is built out into the sea and is surrounded with saline water on three sides. The other docks are landwards and only open into the sea.
Shiva ji‘s contribution
The new octagonal sign of the Indian Navy inspired by the royal insignia of Chhatrapati Shiva ji and PM Modi’s statement dedicating both the emblem and INS Vikrant to Shiva ji is the first official acknowledgment by an Indian government that the Maratha hero is the progenitor of the idea of a modern national navy.
Shiva ji envisioned and built an indigenous naval fleet at a time coastal power across India was in the hands of foreigners — the British, the Portuguese, the Dutch and the French, and in small parts in the hands of African Siddis. To recognise the importance of this dimension of warfare in an era when all Indian powers had disregarded it, including the Islamic powers despite the reputation of the Arabs as seafarers, was extraordinary. What made it equally special was the fact that unlike the Cholas, who with their origins in a river valley were intrinsically aware of why waters were crucial, Shiva ji came from the Sahyadri mountain ranges and the Deccan plateau and moved systematically seawards. While the Cholas’ naval prowess is well-known, after the end of that dynasty of southern India in the mid-1250s and the Islamic invasions and their aftermath, the powers on Indian soil either paid little attention to the massive coastline or took it for granted. So when Shiva ji was born in 1630, the Mughal Empire ruled all of the north, but neither the Mughals nor the Deccan powers in the south such as the Nizamshahi, Adilshahi or Qutubshahi states had built themselves a naval force. The result was that the British, the Portuguese, the Dutch and the French had taken control of the seafront to the extent that if the Mughal Emperor and his kin (or the Deccani Sultans) wanted to visit the holy shrine of Mecca or trade in goods and commodities, they needed approvals and licences from the foreigners.
Shiva ji recognised the significance of the sea for both defence and trade and began building his naval power in 1658-59, plying vessels in and around the ports of Thane, Kalyan and Bhiwandi near Mumbai. The Marathas had no technology so the early vessels were basic. But Shiva ji worked on hiring Portuguese experts and at the same time training locals in the art of ship-building. The British Factory Records of the time talk of complaints that some expertsemployed by the East India Company had gone over to build ships for Shiva ji because he was paying them better wages.
In a decade and a half Shiva ji, as a new, Hindu power, had built more than 50 combat vessels, among them the big ‘Gurabs’, the steady-paced ‘Galbats’ or gun boats, and the lightly-built and speedy ‘Shibars’. If trading vessels were to be counted, the size of his fleet would be around 700 at the time of his coronation in 1674. Western naval as well as military technology was vastly superior and the Marathas battled against the odds, but Shiva ji’s men put up fierce fights in the waters, and Shiva ji created a sense of alarm among his enemies, with the Mughals worried after his first two raids of Surat that he’d attack the town via the sea route and Shiv aji mounting a surprise attack on Karwar from the waters.
The top concern, especially of the British, the Portuguese and the Siddis who controlled the western coast, was that if he repeated his exploits on land in the waters, they’d be under threat. Shiva ji tried all his life to capture Janjira, about 80km to the south of Mumbai, from the Siddis but didn’t succeed, chiefly because the British and Portuguese consistently helped the Siddis with ships and weapons fearing that if Shiva ji took the strategically-located sea fort, the western coastline would be lost to all three powers.
Shiva ji’s vision included the construction of a number of sea forts, which he carried out successfully. And while he recruited locals such as the Marathi-speaking Kolis, Bhandaris and indigenous tribes for the navy, two of his naval chiefs — Daulat Khan and Darya Sarang Ventjee — were Muslims, revealing the inclusive character of what was essentially a Hindu polity.
After stringent security checks, which took nearly 15 minutes, we were welcomed by Commander Sagar Verma, the ship’s senior meteorological ofﬁcer, who was our guide. Wearing boots and helmets is mandatory to prevent injuries while walking through the narrow corridors of the ship. We were ﬁrst taken to the hangar bay of the IAC. Photos: R K SREEJITH, Text: ANANTHA NARAYANAN K
FIVE DECKS BELOW
The hangar bay is the size of two football ﬁ elds combined and can accommodate 20 aircraft. During our visit, there was one Kamov helicopter and a MiG-29 ﬁ ghter jet parked there. More aircraft will be brought after the ﬂ ight trials, post commissioning. The hangar bay is like the carrier’s garage where the storage and maintenance of the aircraft are done. There are two hydraulic 360 degree rotatable turntables, a circular revolving platform for turning an aircraft in whichever direction necessary. There are heavy-duty bolts on the ﬂoor to which the aircraft is strapped to keep it steady while the ship moves. The hangar bay is nearly ﬁ ve decks below the ﬂ ightdeck, and for carrying the aircraft from hangar to the deck and back there are two giant elevators, which have a capacity of up to 30 tonnes, outside the large hydraulic armoured hangar doors that remain closed while the ship is moving. “Unlike INS Vikramaditya, Vikrant has two hangar lifts. Moreover, in Vikramaditya, the lift is situated at the centre of the runway, forcing cancellation of runway operations whenever the lift is operational and vice versa. In Vikrant, the operations of lifts, which are on the ship’s right side, does not affect runway operations and helps in uninterrupted sorties,” said Lt Shailesh, hangar deck control ofﬁ cer
READY TO LAUNCH
We moved to the ﬂ ight deck, which is the most important part of an aircraft carrier. There we met Commodore Vidhyadhar Harke, the commanding ofﬁ cer of the ship. Later, ﬂ ight deck ofﬁ cer Divyansh Singh guided us through the deck, an area of 12,450 sq m. Twelve ﬁ ghter jets and six helicopters can be parked on the deck. There are two runways, one short and the other long, for ﬁ ghter aircraft. Vikrant is a STOBAR carrier, that is, Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery. To aid short take-offs and landings, there is a 14-degree inclined ramp (ski-jump) which assists in getting the required lift for the aircraft to be airborne. Two Restraining Gears are provided on the ﬂ ight deck to assist pilots for take-offs. “The Arresting Gear system is providedto allow a pilot to land at high speed and stop the aircraft within a small distance. There are three arresting wires (20-tonne steel cables) on the deck for this purpose, and the pilot has to use the hook in the belly of the aircraft to lock on to the wire. If he misses the wires, there is no option but to take off again,” Singh said. The deck is coated with military grade non-skid paint and there is provision for refuelling. The runways have Saturn Lighting system that helps the pilot and ﬂ ight deck crew with deck layout during night ﬂ ying operations
IN CASE OF ACCIDENTS
After exploring the hangar deck, we were taken to the Damage Control HQ (DCHQ) of the vessel, entrusted with preventing ﬁ re and ﬂ ood on the vessel. There are over 3,000 ﬁ re sensors and 700 ﬂ ood sensors on the ship. DCHQ can mitigate ﬁ re and ﬂ ood eventualities by taking appropriate actions. The DCHQ is manned 24x7
HEART OF THE OPERATION
We then visited the Operations (Ops) Room of the ship. “What gun should be used, which aircraft should be deployed, the formation of the Carrier Battle Group, etc, is planned and executed from the Ops Room. It is housed with the Combat Management System, weapons controls and sensors, electronic charts, radar controls. The Maritime Domain Awareness System gives position of all ships in the entire Indian Ocean Region,” Cdr Sagar said
CONTROL AND COMMAND
Our next destination was the Ship’s Control Centre (SCC), often called the heart of a ship. “Everything is controlled from SCC. The control system onboard the ship is so complex that the length of optical cables used to interlink the systems equals the circumference of Earth at the equator. The main engines of the ship generate power equivalent to that of 120 Formula One cars,” said Lt Cdr Harshvardhan Reddy, in charge of SCC
ATOP THE BRIDGE…
Later, we visited the Bridge from where the ship’s Captain would be giving directions, and, next door, the Flight Control Position (FLYCO), which is akin to an air trafﬁ c control tower of an airﬁ eld. It is at a height of 10 metres from the ﬂ ight deck, has an all-round clear view of the ﬂ ight-deck, technical positions and Helo landing spots. Flyco has an Automatic Weather Observation System (AWOS), a set of sensors which continually monitors various parameters crucial for ﬂ ying, such as temperature, pressure, relative humidity, wind speed and wind direction
NO ROOM FOR SICKNESS
The ship has a 16-bed hospital manned by ﬁ ve medical ofﬁ cers and 25 assistants. “The medical complex of the ship has medical/ general ward, isolation ward, female ward, casualty and ICU, and is capable of handling any kind of emergency onboard itself. The CT scan facility also has lead-mounted walls to provide protection against radiation,” said Lieutenant Commander Harsha MR, a medical ofﬁ cer
EAT WELL, SAIL WELL
There are three galleys that together make at least 5,000 meals every day and operate between 3am and 10pm. The galleys are ﬁ tted with automated dough, chapatti and idli makers, and large boilers to make curries. Only electric stoves are used and there are automated dishwashers
Presumably as in 2022
Indian Navy- Some carriers and comparisons with China and the USA.
Missile range instrumentation ship
INS Dhruv/ 2021
India is finally set to deploy its first specialised research ship to track incoming nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles and aircraft at long ranges as well as monitor low earth orbit (LEO) satellites, in a major boost to the country’s early-warning military capabilities.
The indigenous 15,000-tonne missile range instrumentation ship, packed with long-range radars, domeshaped tracking antennae and advanced electronics, will be commissioned as INS Dhruv in the presence of NSA Ajit Doval and Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh on September 10, said sources.
This comes at a time when a similar Chinese vessel is prowling the Indian Ocean Region on yet another surveillance mission. With INS Dhruv, India joins a select group of countries like the US, Russia, China and France to have such specialised vessels.
“INS Dhruv will act as an early-warning system to detect and track hostile ballistic missiles, with even multiple manoeuverable warheads,” said a source. Once such incoming missiles are detected, land-based ballistic missile defence systems can take over to track and shoot them down.
INS Dhruv can also be used to monitor LEO satellites being used by an adversary for military reconnaissance, spying and communications if required, said the source.
National Maritime Security Coordinator
Established in 2022
New Delhi: In a long-pending reform almost 14 years after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, the government has now appointed the country’s first national maritime security coordinator (NMSC) to ensure effective coordination and cooperation among multiple central and state authorities dealing with the domain from the coast to the high seas.
Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar, who retired as the Navy vice-chief in July last year, will be the NMSC in the National Security Council Secretariat under national security adviser Ajit Doval. The cabinet committee on security (CCS) in November last year had approved the NMSC post with the mandate to bridge the gap among the disparate authorities to strengthen the country’s maritime and energy security as well as expanding “blue economy” and technology requirements, as was first reported byTOI.
It has for long been felt that the myriad authorities involved in maritime issues— ranging from external affairs, defence, home and shipping ministries to the Navy, Coast Guard, customs, intelligence agencies, port authorities, state governments and maritime police forces — all need to work in close coordination.
An apex maritime mechanism or coordination is crucial for India, which has along 7,516-km coastline, including island territories, and a 2 million sq km Exclusive Economic Zone, apart from 90% of its trade by volume and 70% by value transiting through the seas.
Policies and reach
Indian Ocean Region/ 2017
The Navy is ramping up its new “mission-based deployments“ in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Malacca Strait, with warships on round-the-clock patrols to meet any operational eventuality from conventional threats and maritime terrorism to piracy and humanitarian disaster relief.
There are 12 to 15 destroyers, frigates, corvettes and large patrol vessels on long-range deployments in the IOR at any given time now, which are backed by naval satellite Rukmini (GSAT-7) and daily sorties by Poseidon-8I maritime patrol aircraft to keep tabs over the vast oceanic expanse.
The plan is to deploy “mission-ready warships“ and aircraft along critical sea lanes of communications as well as “choke points“ ranging from the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Aden to the Malacca Strait and Sunda Strait. “This will be done on a 24x7 basis round the year, with the warships being sustained and turned around on station. The Indian Navy has emerged as the net security provider and first responder in the region,“ said a senior officer.
If a Shivalik-class stealth frigate is currently patrolling the Bay of Bengal towards Bangladesh and Myanmar, then a Teg-class frigate is in the vicinity of Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles. Similarly , while frigate INS Trishul is deployed for anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden, a Koraclass corvette is prowling around the Andaman Sea.
This “rebalancing of deployments“, of course, is also in response to China sending its warships and submarines into the IOR on a regular basis over the last few years. At least three nuclear and four conventional Chinese submarines, for instance, have been tracked in the IOR since December 2013, as earlier reported by TOI.
The Indian Navy , which currently has 138 warships and 235 aircraft and helicopters, incidentally has plans in place to become a 212-warship and 458-aircraft force by 2027 to protect the country's huge geostrategic interests.
“The Navy is pursuing the PM's vision of 'Sagar' (security and growth for all in the region) in a deliberate manner through security cooperation and capacity building initiatives with other nations in the region,“.
Apart from slowly upgrading military infrastructure in the strategically-located Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, which straddles major global trade routes and can be used as a pivot to counter Chinese moves in the IOR, the Indian Navy is also stepping up its cooperation with other navies in the region through a series of exercises, coordinated patrols, training exchanges as well as supply of equipment. Patrol vessel INS Sukanya, for instance, reached Belawan in Indonesia on Tuesday to take part in a coordinated patrolling and bilateral exercise there.
India has also offered to train Indonesian Navy in submarine warfare operations, on the lines of training already being provided to the Vietnamese Navy .
2018/ India extends its strategic reach to west
An agreement to give Indian Navy access to the Duqm port in Oman will have far-reaching consequences for India’s strategic reach westwards and in the Indian Ocean.
Seen together with the agreement with the UAE for joint naval exercises in the Persian Gulf in March, India is making slow but sure progress in pitching its presence in the area. Last month, India and Seychelles overcame domestic opposition in the island nation to sign a revised agreement for India to build “military infrastructure” in the island of Assumption. A similar agreement for Agalega Island in Mauritius already exists.
In 2017, President Ram Nath Kovind made Djibouti his first overseas stop — India and Djibouti are likely to establish diplomatic relations this year with an Indian mission in that very important post on the Horn of Africa.
India was somewhat late in acknowledging the importance of Duqm — the US built its presence there in 2013-14, followed by the UK. Unable to resist the charms of Chinese investment, the Duqm port Commercial Terminal and Operational Zone Development Project saw China investing over $350 million in August 2016.
India has the closest political ties with Oman, also the longest. Its geo-strategic importance for India is unique as it sits atop the crucial waterways of the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. More than that, Oman has been the original “non-aligned” country in that region — part of the Arab GCC, but maintaining close links with Iran, and now, the black sheep of the Arab alliance, Qatar.
The US used Oman’s good offices to reach out to Iran when they negotiated the nuclear deal, just as it was Oman’s intervention that helped India rescue Father Tom from ISIS captivity in Yemen. As India seeks to engage the Gulf countries more intensively, the Oman experience is invaluable. In addition, Oman used to be the original Indian Ocean nation with territorial assets going south to Zanzibar, something that has been a basis for closer ties between India and Oman.
While PM Modi has engaged the UAE and Saudi Arabia, somehow it seemed that Oman was falling through the cracks. Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj made Muscat her first overseas call, but it has taken Modi four years to travel to Oman — partly due to Sultan Qaboos’ ill health.
All three Indian military services conducted exercises with their Omani counterparts and both the Navy and Air Force use Oman’s Salalah for repair and refueling. But Duqm is different — it is completely artificial and created solely for economic and strategic use.
As China takes over Gwadar in Pakistan, India’s presence in Duqm is crucial as a security checkmate, giving India the ability to cut off China at the mouth of the Gulf of Oman.
It is part of historical irony that Gwadar, which used to belong to the Omani sultan, was offered to India in the 1950s. India had refused, on the grounds that it would not be able to defend it from Pakistan. Duqm in addition, gives Indian Navy a logistics multiplier as it seeks to counter China’s presence in Djibouti, and reach further westwards towards the Red Sea.
2018/ Information Fusion Centre-IOR at Gurugram
India is slowly but steadily upgrading its capability to keep an eagle eye on the expansive Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to detect and thwart maritime security threats in real time, with the overall plan being to tie-up with as many as 36 countries and three multi-national networks for dynamic exchange of shipping data.
“We have already signed White Shipping Information Exchange agreements with 19 countries, and operationalised them with 12,” said Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba. India this week also inked the ascension pact to the 30-nation Trans Regional Maritime Network (T-RMN), which is steered by Italy, the first of three such networks on the agenda.
The countries with which India has operationalized bilateral White Shipping pacts to share information on merchant vessels through AIS (automatic identification system) transmissions range from the US, UK, France and Australia to Brazil, Israel, Vietnam, Oman and Mauritius.
“This gives India access to information on the thousands of ships transiting through the IOR, which amount to over 65% of all oil and petroleum exports and over 50% of global container traffic. It’s not possible for any single nation to individually monitor the oceans,” said a senior officer.
Apart from becoming heavily-militarised, the IOR faces threats like maritime terrorism, piracy, arms-running, human and contraband trafficking. The Navy already has the Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) at Gurgaon, which takes feeds and inputs from multiple sources ranging from coastal radars to satellites and then fuses, correlates and analyses them to assess threats in the IOR.
Now, it has also set up the Information Fusion Centre-IOR at Gurgaon, which was inaugurated on December 21, to interact with various multi-national constructs as well as international and national agencies for White Shipping information.
“The collated data will comprehensively improve the situational awareness on merchant shipping in the IOR. The IFC-IOR will also facilitate dissemination of analysed maritime security and safety information to partner nations, constructs and agencies. It will also host liaison officers from partner countries,” said another officer.
“The Navy will increasingly be using Big-Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of IMAC and IFC-IOR. The aim is to keep track of both conventional and unconventional threats in our primary area of geopolitical interest spreading from the Persian Gulf to well beyond the Malacca Strait,” he added.
But the long-pending national maritime domain awareness (NMDA) project to bolster multi-agency co-ordination and augment ongoing efforts to strengthen maritime and coastal security is yet to take concrete shape.
The NMDA project’s heart in the form of the National Command Control Communication Intelligence (NC3I) network, with its central hub being IMAC, however, is up and running. While the Navy and Coast Guard are behind the NC3I network, the NMDA project will bring all stakeholders -- the several Union ministries dealing with maritime affairs as well as coastal states and Union Territories – on the same grid.
Presidential Fleet Review
What is the President’s Fleet Review?
In simplest terms, it is the country’s President taking stock of the Navy’s capability. It showcases all types of ships and capabilities the Navy has. It takes place once under every President, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces.
The President is taken on one of the Naval ships, which is called the President’s Yacht, to look at all the ships docked on one of the Naval ports. According to a statement by the Navy, the President’s Yacht this year “is an indigenously built Naval Offshore Patrol Vessel, INS Sumitra, which will lead the Presidential Column. The yacht will be distinguished by the Ashoka Emblem on her side and will fly the President’s Standard on the Mast”.
The President will be given a 21-gun salute before embarking on the yacht.
Do all naval ships participate?
No. The idea is to showcase not all the Navy’s ships, but every type of ship — and the kind of capabilities it has at that time. In the fleet review, which will take place in Vishakhapatnam, Kovind will review over 60 ships and submarines, and 55 aircraft, from the Navy and the Coast Guard.
His yacht will sail past 44 ships lined up at anchorage off Visakhapatnam, and there will be a combination of ships from the Indian Navy as well the Coast Guard, along with some vessels from the Shipping Corporation of India and the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
The review also includes merchant ships.
What else happens in the fleet review?
“In this most formal of naval ceremonials, each ship dressed in full regalia will salute the President as he passes. The President will also be reviewing the Indian Naval Air Arm in a display of spectacular fly-past by several helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. In the final stage of the review, a mobile column of warships and submarines will steam past the Presidential Yacht.” The Navy said.
The vessels will include the Navy’s latest acquisitions, and the events will include waterfront activities such as Parade of Sails, Search and Rescue Demonstration at Sea, Aerobatics by Hawk aircraft, and Water Para Jumps by the elite Marine Commandos.
All ships at anchorage will be dressed ceremoniously with various naval flags in full regalia. They have been illuminated from sunset to midnight on February 19 and 20.
As part of the Sail Parade activities, six ocean-going Indian Naval Sailing Vessels arrived at Visakhapatnam from Goa. These are part of Ocean Sailing Node at INS Mandovi at Goa.
How many of these reviews have been held?
There have been 11 President’s Fleet Reviews since Independence. The first was conducted in 1953, under Dr Rajendra Prasad. The next one was done not by the President but by the then Defence Minister, Y B Chavan, in 1964. Since then, it has been the President reviewing the fleet.
The longest gap between reviews was of 12 years — between 1989 (President R Venkatraman) and when 2001 (President K R Narayanan). The last one was done in 2016, under President Pranab Mukherjee.
The reviews in 2001 and 2016 were International Fleet Reviews, in which some vessels from other countries also participated. The Indian Navy too has participated in international fleet reviews in other countries, including Australia, America, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, and the UK.
In 1953, 25 warships, seven yard craft and one merchant ship had participated. In 1964, the number rose to 31 warships, nine merchant ships and 12 yard craft. Two years later, under President S Radhakrishnan, India’s first aircraft carrier INS Vikrant was part of the review.
What is its significance?
It is one of the most important events for the Navy, which is essentially showing its allegiance and commitment to defending the country. It is a long-standing tradition followed by navies across the world, and according to Navy officials it is a strong bond that links seafarers of the world.
“Historically, a Fleet Review is an assembly of ships at a pre-designated place for the purpose of displaying loyalty and allegiance to the Sovereign and the state. In turn, the Sovereign, by reviewing the ships, reaffirms his faith in the fleet and its ability to defend the nation’s maritime interest,” a senior Navy official said.
The official said the review “was perhaps conceived as a show of naval might. Though it still has the same connotation, assembling of warships without any belligerent intentions is now the norm in modern times”.
`Sat For IAF To Be Launched By Year-End'
With China increasing its naval presence in the Indian Ocean Region amid the ongoing Sikkim stand-off, the Indian Navy is keeping an eye on the `dragon' with the help of its `eye in the sky', Gsat-7, the Navy's own dedicated military satellite that was launched on September 29, 2013.
The 2,625-kg satellite, named `Rukmini', has helped the Navy monitor the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as it has a nearly 2,000 nautical mile `footprint'. The multi-band communication-cum surveillance satellite, which is operating from the geo-stationary orbit (at 36,000km altitude), provi des real-time inputs to naval warships, submarines and maritime aircraft and networking capabilities to its naval assets on the high seas.
With the help of the shorebased operational centres, `Rukmini' (also called INSAT-4F) has not only helped the Navy keep an eye on both Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal but also helped the force increase its communication and surveillance capabilities from Persian Gulf to Malacca Strait. Rukmini, which provides wide range of service spectrum from low bit rate voice to high bit rate data communication, has given the Navy an in tegrated platform and helped it overcome the limitation of `line of sight' (the straight path of signal when unobstructed by the horizon).
Due to the absence of the advanced GSLV rocket with carrying capacity of 4-tonne class satellite in 2013, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) had to use the commercial services of Arianespace in French Guiana, Kourou, to launch Rs 185-crore Gsat-7.“The satellite, which operates in UHF , S, C and Ku bands, has an advanced Helix antenna,“ an Isro source said.
Before Gsat-7 was launched, the navy , for warship communication, had to depend on Inmarsat, a major provider of global mobile satellite communications services.
A second satellite of this kind, Gsat-7A, meant exclusively for the IAF , is currently being developed. “This satellite is due to be launched by yearend,“ the source said. Gsat-7A will enable the air force interlink different ground radar stations, ground airbase and airborne early warning and control (AWACS) aircraft such as Beriev A-50 Phalcon and DRDO AEW&CS. The satellite will also enhance networkcentric warfare capabilities of the IAF and, therefore, enhance its global operations.
Few recent defence imports have been as troubled as the six Scorpene submarines imported from France in 2005. The Rs 23,562 crore deal first ran into bribery allegations, then a five-year construction delay. And last year, a leak of classified technical details by an Australian newspaper severely embarrassed the Indian Navy.
The AgustaWestland bribery case halted procurement of weapons for the Scorpenes because the parent company, Finmeccanica (now Leonardo), makes the Blackshark torpedoes that are to equip the Scorpene.
The first two Scorpenes, 'Kalvari' and 'Khanderi', are to be inducted in June and December. All six will enter service by 2020. Instead of the Scorpene, the navy now wants a bigger conventional submarine in the light of the changed threat scenario. The Scorpenes were locally assembled through transfer of technology but achieved barely 40 per cent indigenisation. In contrast, close to 70 per cent of the four indigenous Arihant class ballistic missile submarines were made with local equipment.
The navy has decided to back the indigenous Project 75 'India' class conventional submarines to be built in collaboration with a foreign partner. The submarines will be fitted with a DRDO-developed Air Independent Propulsion to enhance its underwater endurance and the Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.
The trouble is the first P-75I submarine is at least a decade away because a key strategic partnership that will allow large Indian private companies to tie up with foreign firms is yet to be approved. It will take at least seven years to roll out the first P-75I submarine. Till then, the navy will have to make do with the six Scorpenes and life extensions to its aging fleet of 13 submarines.
The country’s second Scorpene-class submarine, INS Khanderi, built for superior stealth and launching crippling attacks on the enemy using precisionguided weapons, was delivered to the Navy. Made by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL), it will be commissioned at Naval Dockyard by defence minister Rajnath Singh on September 28.
The submarine inherits its name from a predecessor that served in the Navy during 1968-89 and was christened after Chhatrapati Shiva ji’s island fort of Khanderi. An inspiration is also the wide-snouted saw fish, a deadly predator of the Indian Ocean which bears the same name.
INS Khanderi is among MDL’s six such submarines. The first, INS Kalvari, was commissioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December 2017. “Scorpeneclass submarines can undertake multifarious tasks, including anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare,” a MDL spokesperson told TOI.
A contract with French company Naval Group (earlier called DCNS) was signed in 2005 for the supply of six submarines. The French-designed subs are being built by MDL as part of Indian Navy’s Project-75, which has witnessed significant delays and cost escalation.
The third of the submarines, Karanj, was launched in January 2018 and is undergoing rigorous sea trials. The fourth, Vela, was launched in May this year and is being prepared for sea trials. The remaining two, Vagir and Vagsheer, are in various stages of outfitting.
On September 28, the defence minister will also launch INS Nilgiri, the first ship of the P17A frigates.
2023: 5th Scorpene
New Delhi : India’s depleting underwater combat arm got a major boost with the delivery of the fifth Scorpene submarine to the Navy ahead of its commissioning as INS Vagir next month, amid the increasing Chinese naval forays into the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
The concern, however, is that the long-pending over Rs 42,000 crore ‘Project-75 India’ to construct six new-generation diesel-electric submarines with foreign collaboration, which was first granted ‘acceptance of necessity’ way back in November 2007, is still nowhere near taking off.
Sources say the foreign companies in the fray to build the six new submarines, with land-attack cruise missiles aswell as air-independent propulsion (AIP) for greater underwater endurance, in collaboration with either Mazagon Docks (MDL) or L&T Shipyard have been granted yet another extension till August 2023 to submit their commercial and technical bids.
It will take a decade for the first such submarine to roll out after the contract is eventually inked. China, meanwhile, is in the process of supplying eight Yuan-class diesel-electric submarines with AIP to Pakistan.
Under the ‘Project-75’ underway at MDL with French collaboration, the Navy has commissioned four Scorpenes, INS Kalvari, INS Khanderi, INS Karanj and INS Vela, till now. The sixth and the last, Vagsheer, will bedelivered next year.
Apart from them, the Navy is grappling with just six old Russian Kilo-class and four German HDW submarines in the conventional underwater fleet. On the nuclear front, India has only one operational SSBN (naval parlance for nuclear-propelled submarines armed with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles), INS Arihant, while the second INS Arighat is slated to join her soon.
As per approved plans, the Navy requires at least 18 conventional submarines, four SSBNs and six nuclearpowered attack submarines (SSNs) to tackle the collusive China-Pakistan threat.
The Scorpenes are a much-needed welcome addition. With superior stealthfeatures like advanced acoustic absorption techniques and low radiated noise levels, they are equipped with long-range guided torpedoes and tubelaunched anti-ship missiles as well as advanced sonars and sensor suites.
“Vagir began sea trials from February 1 this year. It is a matter of great pride that she has completed all major trialsin the shortest time in comparison to the earlier submarines,” an officer said. “Submarine construction is an intricate activity as the difficulty is compounded when all equipment is required to be miniaturised and are subject to stringent quality requirements. It is a notable achievement that Vagir is the third Scorpene submarine delivered to the Navy in a span of 24 months,” he added.
As in 2022
Submarines with the Indian Navy as in 2022
War room leak: 2005
2018: CBI finds nothing against Capt Kashyap Kumar
Agency Failed To Find Proof In War-Room Leak
After over a decade of hounding and humiliation, the CBI has not found anything against former Navy captain Kashyap Kumar, who was dismissed by the government in 2005 for allegedly being involved in the infamous naval war room leak case.
The CBI submitted its report quietly in a designated court and the Delhi high court late last year, saying “the investigation in respect of petitioner Kashyap Kumar has concluded and the CBI has decided to close the case against him”.
The status report on the CBI probe came on a petition moved by the 58-year-old captain in the HC seeking quashing of FIR against him.
Disposing of the petition, Justice Ashutosh Kumar had said in his single page order that the CBI, “on the strength of the relevant documents, has submitted that the case against the petitioner has been closed by the CBI”.
After his name surfaced in the case, Kashyap was dismissed from service in October 2005 without facing a courtmartial — an exercise of the rarely used President’s “pleasure doctrine” under Article 311. He filed a writ petition in November 2005 challenging the decision. He was named in the FIR after CBI took over the probe but the agency did not charge him for want of evidence.
Six people, including Ravi Shankaran, a relative of Navy ex-chief Admiral Arun Prakash and Delhi-based businessman Abhishek Verma, were charged by CBI in 2006.
During the probe, CBI examined all the files and questioned some Navy officers regarding the role of Kashyap in the leak but failed to get any convincing answers about his involvement. They got a routine reply that Kumar stood dismissed under Section 15 of the Navy Act, an action which has already been challenged in the Delhi HC. Kumar was dismissed under the Section 15 of the Navy Act wherein an accused official has no right to present his case or see the allegations that have been levelled against him.