The Indian Navy has highlighted its capital budget constraints and the decline in overall defence budget relative to the Centre’s total budget. Also, the Navy has identified about Rs 40,000 crore worth projects for participation by private shipyards. Addressing the annual press conference ahead of the Navy Day celebrations on December 4, Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said on Friday, “We have raised our concern and are hopeful our concerns will be addressed.” To a question if shortage of funds could impact the acquisition of Navy’s multi-role carrier-borne fighters (MRCBF) to equip its aircraft carriers. Lanba said, “We want these aircraft sooner than later and have received from four vendors.”
He added, “I don’t forsee any budgetary constraint and the process has already started. The proposals received are being studied and by next year we will float Request for Proposal.” The Indian Navy initiated the bid and issued a Request for Information (RfI) for procurement of Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighter earlier this year. It is seeking a twin-engine fighter for its future aircraft carriers and the chosen strike-fighter aircraft must be capable of operating from both the INS Vikrant. The ski jump equipped Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) carrier is currently being built in Kochi.
In his opening statement, the naval chief said that in 2017 the focus has been on infrastructure development and the Navy has made significant progress in developing Karwar as a futuristic naval base on the west coast of India, as part of smart cities. According to the naval chief, 23 Indian private sector shipyards have qualified for participation in indigenous shipbuilding projects on the basis of their capacity, capability and infrastructure.
Besides the execution of the next phase of Project Seabird commencing, creation of a full-fledged naval dockyard and associated infrastructure to accommodate more number of ships, submarines and yard-craft will be undertaken during this phase. To another question, he pointed that work on Indigenous Aircraft Carrier — IAC 1, is progressing well and the ship is likely to join the Navy by 2020. Two naval offshore patrol vessels have been launched at Pipavav in Gujarat.