Navy Evaluating Fleet Strength Amidst Indo-Pacific Challenges: Admiral Harikumar


Navy Evaluating Fleet Strength Amidst Indo-Pacific Challenges: Admiral Harikumar

Admiral R. Harilumar, who took charge as Indian Navy chief on Dec. 1, has said it is currently crystal gazing the fleet numbers it would require 10 years hence, keeping in context the emerging challenges from China in the Indian Ocean Region.

On the crucial issue of the number of the warships, Admiral Harikumar, at his press conference on Dec. 3 ahead of Navy Day 2021, refused to talk numbers at this point in time. "It could be 170, it could be 200, 230 or even 300. We are currently working on the Integrated Capability Development Plan (ICDP, being prepared by the two-year-old Department of Military Affairs under Chief Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat)," he said.

The 10-year ICDP has now replaced the earlier 15-year Maritime Capability Perspective Plans of the Indian Navy, which the navy chief clarified was because of the fast changing nature of technological developments in the military domain. "We find the technology becoming obsolete in 15 years," he said.

Admiral Harikumar also conveyed that the northern borders with China had raised many complexities that made the security scenario fragile in the region. He assured the nation that the Indian Navy was prepared to deal with any security challenge in the Indian Ocean Region. "The situation on our northern borders and COVID-19 have created two complex challenges and the Indian Navy is ready to tackle both the challenges," he said.

Navy Modernization Plan: Admiral Harikumar said the navy was focusing on indigenous efforts at shipbuilding in the country, with 37 of the 39 warships on order having been placed on domestic shipyards. (The rest two are being built by a Russian shipyard). The warships being built by Indian shipyards include the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 'Vikrant', P-15B class Destroyers, P17A class stealth Frigates and Scorpene class submarines.

"The indigenous design and construction of an Aircraft Carrier by the Indian Navy and Cochin Shipyard Limited is a shining example of our quest for ‘AatmaNirbharta’ with more than 76 per cent indigenous content," the navy chief said.

"The fifth Scorpene class submarine (of the total six on order) 'Vagir' has also been launched (The first four have been commissioned into the navy already),” he informed.

The navy chief said Acceptance of Necessity (the first step in procurement of defence equipment by Indian armed forces) existed for 72 projects worth Rs 197,359 crore ($26.22 billion), of which 59 projects worth Rs 174,027 crore ($23.12 billion), that wass over 88 per cent, were for indigenous development. "Through these projects, we will also aim to provide as much impetus as possible to the Startup India and Skill India initiatives."

He said the navy had tied up with 24 startups towards fostering an ecosystem for innovation and technology development for defence applications. Additionally, 17 Technology Development Fund (TDF) projects were being pursued by the navy for developing niche technologies that will form the kernel of equipment to be fitted onboard the maritime platforms.

"we are actively pursuing an 'Industry Yatra', through the recently established Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO), to match the existing industrial capabilities with our requirements and provide a fillip to innovation.”

The navy chief said China had built 138 ships in the last 10 years, but every nation was entitled to have its share of capability development. "The Indian Navy is a potent, well-balanced, capable force confident of defending the country's maritime interests."

(Courtesy: Defence.Capital)

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