Milind Kulshreshtha, C4I expert, says “The efforts put in during the beginning of this millennium shall be the foundation stone for the technology for this century since a ship remains in service for a minimum three to four decades, regularly getting an equipment modernisation boost to enhance its warfighting capabilities.”
The next decade will witness Indian Navy operationalised with the latest warfare assets, specialised equipment and well-motivated manpower as it is heading towards true blue water Navy with various International level presences at sea. And with highly focussed developments in the littoral waters also, impenetrable Indian waterline shall be a challenge for the next few years.
Sharing his views, Milind Kulshreshtha, C4I expert, says “The efforts put in during the beginning of this millennium shall be the foundation stone for the technology for this century since a ship remains in service for a minimum three to four decades, regularly getting an equipment modernisation boost to enhance its warfighting capabilities.”
“With Artificial Intelligence and Cyber-security being the new opportunities for system enhancements for modern warfare, Navy has already setup futuristic infrastructure like Cyber cells, Navy-wide networks etc. Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) shall be seeing expansion for an enhanced operational international contribution through the deployment of Aircraft Carrier based Task Forces,” he adds.
According to Kulshreshtha, “Indian Navy is looking towards technological advancements to leverage Artificial Intelligence, IoT and Defence satellite-based surveillances in order to focus its resources towards such critical tasks. With fair winds under its sails, the Indian Navy has geared itself to achieve supremacy at high seas in decades to come.”
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Over the last two decades, the Indian Navy has made a push towards fructifying pending projects earmarked as part of the new Millennium plan and have successfully commissioned main battleship, submarine and aircraft in recent months.
In 2019, major projects like submarine Khandari, Nilgiri Class frigate (P-17A) and Drydock at Mumbai were all commissioned by Indian Navy, signalling its intent to evolve some of the best technologies indigenously in the forthcoming years to enhance self-reliance and readiness. Besides modernisation of its assets, these need maintenance for year round 24/7 protection of entire 7516.6 km coastline and EEZ involving 13 coastal States and Union Territories. Deep repair and maintenance facilities are kept operational within Naval Dockyards and Naval Ship Repair Yards existing at various locations around India’s coastline.
Focus on Coastal Security
The first ever combined Exercise Sea Vigil was undertaken along with Indian Coast Guard, Shipping, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Fisheries, Customs and State Governments agencies was completed to assess the effectiveness of new steps taken to ensure secure coastline.
“An active plan has been drawn out by the Indian Navy to assimilate specific assets pertaining to coastal defences. These include Coastal radar network, mass construction of Fast Attack Crafts and Fast Patrol Vessels, and induction of Next Generation Maritime Mobile Coastal Batteries (Long Range) or, NGMMCB. These NGMMCB units shall be equipped with supersonic BrahMos anti-ship missiles and operate as a cluster of SSM complex. A multi-tiered patrol and surveillance mechanism focussed on technical surveillance and augmenting Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) through the Coastal Radar chain and various other systems have been created,” says Kulshreshtha.
The Naval Aviation arm recently got a boost with the commission of the latest Dornier aircraft for maritime security and surveillance. A well laid down modernisation of deck launched fighter jets too has been scheduled. Boeing P-8I aircraft have found their mark in Long Range Maritime surveillance and could be the mainstay in naval air arm with new inductions also being planned. Indigenous manufacturing of 111 Naval Utility Helicopters under strategic partnership mechanism is also being attempted to set a pattern towards self-reliance a growth of Indian industries in the key area of Aerospace engineering.
Ship Production Launches
Earlier this year Cochin Shipyard Limited and Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) received contracts to deliver eight each of state-of-the-art Anti Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Crafts (ASW SWC), with first ship delivery scheduled by October 2022. And the balance of ships to be delivered at the rate of two ships per year to be completed within seven years.
Keel of the first Survey Vessel (Large) was laid down at GRSE as part of the contract for four Survey Vessel for the first ship to be delivered within 36 months from contract signing date and overall project completion time of 54 months.
There has been major progress on the indigenous 40,000-tonne aircraft carrier (IAC-I) christened INS Vikrant, currently being built at Cochin Shipyard so as to make it fully-operational by 2022-23, despite several unavoidable delays. The Indian Navy has been making a case for the IAC-II construction which will be 65,000-tonne.