In 2009 the Admiral Sureesh Mehta said neither have the capability nor intention to match China`s military prowess. However, India should not involve with Beijing in an arms race and should rather try to “nullify” its numerical strength by using better technology. This very statement from Admiral is relevant even today with an extra punch of offensive posture with the cooperation from regional and international powers.
Inventory of PLA Navy
The Chinese Navy is growing in strength. Currently the 2nd largest in the world, it also has plans of rapid growth. Though, as yet not too formidable in terms of its aircraft carriers, it has a large submarine force of mixed vintage. Chinese are also developing bases in Gwadar and Djibouti where they would be stationing marines. It has already developed the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka and upgraded ports in South Asian countries.
Indian Navy and its capability Vis a Vis the PLAN
As described above the Chinese Navy is the second largest Navy in the world. The Indian Navy is the fifth largest Navy in the world in terms of displacement. India currently has one aircraft carrier, with one under construction and one more planned. She has one nuclear submarine with two under construction and six more planned. In terms of conventional submarines she has 13 with six under construction and six more planned. She has 10 destroyers, 15 frigates with three more destroyers under construction and six more frigates planned. In terms of numbers the Chinese have more but as there is a geographic separation and the Chinese having limited offensive capability the PLAN can be suitably matched by a vigilant Indian Navy. In addition Indian navy enjoys best of Russian and Western arms.
We Indians often term US as back stabbers without considering the fact that what Pakistan did to US. Historically Pakistan and US had transactional alliance and that was reflected in the Pakistani inventory with formidable F16s (during 1990s). During Kargil war Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja, who was in his MiG-21 tried to trace the downed MiG despite a blatant threat in the form of enemy Anti-Aircraft Guns. Within minutes his plane was shot at by a Stinger shoulder fired missile.
Yes ! Stringer : The FIM-92 Stinger is a Man-Portable Air-Defense System (MANPADS) that operates as an infrared homing surface-to-air missile (SAM). It can be adapted to fire from a wide variety of ground vehicles and helicopters (as an AAM). Developed in the United States this weapon system entered service in 1981 and was spotted in Pakistani Army in 1999.
But the scenario today is changed by strong Indian diplomacy and Pakistani irrelevance because of regressive mind-set the rogue country has vis a vis terrorism, the LEOMA and then series of deals which includes Boeing P8I, Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), and Guardian Drones.
Malabar 2017 comes at a time when there are high tensions between India and China over the Sikkim border and the growth of Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean Region, China, who has been wary of the drills since a long time is keeping a close watch. The Chinese government on Friday expressed its hope that the exercise is not aimed at other countries. “We have no objection to the normal bilateral relations and cooperation among relevant countries, but we hope that this kind of relationship and cooperation will not be directed at any third party and will be conducive to the regional peace and stability,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang.
However, an editorial in the state-run China Daily hit out at the drill saying that even it is China and not India that should worry about its security. “India, the United States and Japan have begun their 10-day Malabar naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal, which are the biggest of their kind so far, and the US approved a $365-million sale of military transport aircraft to India last week and a $2-billion deal for surveillance drones is in the works, it is China that should feel ‘security concerns’, given the importance of the Indian Ocean for its trade and oil imports.”
Painful bit but it is Indian Navy “.” That stands out
Well you must know that except for the sentiments of competitiveness with China, we are nowhere near China in any department and usually are overpowered by 3 to 1 ratio. Whether it be GDP (5 is to 1), military budget, or any other field. If you had talked about comparing Air force, the discussion won’t even be worth the time. But the navy is most striking exception, where we stand a chance. It is also surprising because we never had been too much keen on navy strengthening as we have hardly any enemies in the Indian Ocean compared to China in the sea in their east. But the place where we have the edge is experience and the strategic peninsular shape of our country’s coastline. We are at a huge advantage in the Indian Ocean compared to China.
I would like to mention that in case of war between China and India. China won’t be foolish to use its entire navy while India can, assuming that as always it is not the aggressor, and the navies meet in the Indian Ocean. China has a lot of enemies on its own coastline that might support India in case of war and will utilize the opportunity of undefended coastline. So that number is not the effective number India stands against.
Also the point that naval vessels are less movable as compared to the air force, it is not intelligent to use the entire navy or even half of it, far away from their own coast. So, we need not be afraid with that number. Also, we will get the advantage of home ground.
The formidable INS Vikramaditya with 45 Mig 29K can make anyone run for their money and in recently concluded Malabar 2017 US navy has praised the capability INS Vikramaditya & Mig 29 Carries. That is huge enough to cause a blockade to China in Indian Ocean. And that is what China fears. Its engines are changed for the power improvement and this is all that is expected from a carrier in addition to a good self-defence mechanism which also has recently been deployed and Barak 8 in process.
The Indian Navy is most busy navy with naval exercises with advanced navies like that of US, the thing that China does not enjoy. So, for the question, I would like to say that Indian Navy is at least comparable to Chinese in terms of its importance in Indian Ocean, despite the vast difference in the numbers, for now.
But that might not stand for long because the Chinese have already understood the importance of Indian Ocean and are trying to increase their naval strength in the Indian Ocean in particular.
Also from 2014 India has emphasised on the Naval power and the major chunk of the money has started flowing into Navy.
The Way Forward
For India, the main technological challenge is to reduce the imported content of indigenously produced naval sensors and weapons. While there are plans to build future naval technologies under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, it is unclear if an outright indigenisation approach to technology will be effective. The problem for New Delhi is that even though foreign defence companies are willing to collaborate with Indian manufacturers, they are reluctant to transfer cutting-edge technologies. Equally worrisome, however, is the suboptimal capacity of Indian firms to acquire and absorb foreign technology.
Outwardly, the maritime technology mission seems well defined. Through the INIP, the Navy has announced its ship-building ambitions, which it believes will enable India to be a net provider of security in the maritime neighbourhood, thus building capability and enhancing capacity of regional partners. Yet, the shortfalls in terms of both Indian R&D and Indian manufacturing remain serious. For maritime managers, the mission involves five urgent tasks
(a) R&D in military sciences and technologies;
(b) Amalgamation of R&D and the manufacturing sector;
(c) Bringing about an integration of users, designers and manufacturers;
(d) Making projects commercially viable, achieving economies of scale; and
(e) Tiding over technology-denial regimes.
With the focus on make in India and willingness of foreign manufacturers to invest in India and Naval RFP for 57 aircraft which looks like a tailor made for Rafale Maritime the deference will compliment four LPD landing platform/dock, INS Vikrant and p75I.
As mentioned in my very first article with Right Log the China has an energy chicken neck near Malacca strait. The life-blood of China’s economy is energy. Without access to energy resources, China’s economy will slow, and its prosperity will wane, it will become more vulnerable to internal social and political disorder and the CCP’s grip on power will weaken. Therefore, ensuring China’s energy security affects its foreign and defence policy, and will influence the future development of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). China’s imported oil demand continues to outstrip diminishing domestic and offshore production and current projections suggest that by 2020 imported oil will make up 66% of its total oil demand, increasing to 72% by 2040.
At the heart of the challenge of ensuring energy security is ‘the Malacca Dilemma’. Chinese President Hu Jintao recognised the strategic significance of the Malacca Dilemma in November 2003 noting that “certain powers have all along encroached on and tried to control navigation through the [Malacca] Strait. “The significance of the Malacca Strait is that 80% of China’s energy (in addition to much of its trade) moves through a waterway that at its narrowest point is only 1.7 miles across.