With the Chinese presence growing in the Indian Ocean Region and the threats increasing underwater, the Indian Navy is focusing on enhancing its underwater capability. Responding to a question of Financial Express Online, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh said “Underwater domain awareness and underwater capabilities are the key focus areas of mine and the Indian Navy.”
“We are focusing hard on getting more awareness of warfighting within the underwater space,” he added.
About the Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR): The Chinese research vessels and fishing vessels are deployed, but, according to Admiral Singh “there has been no infringement in the Indian maritime boundaries.’’
There are three Chinese warships are in the Indian Ocean region as of today and these three ships are being maintained there since 2008 for the anti-piracy patrols.
“In case of any infringement by the Chinese vessels, the Navy is fully prepared with the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to deal with such situations.”
To the question-related to the 30 Sea Guardian UAVs being procured from the US-based General Atomics, he said that “the acquisition process is going on and what India has leased just now is just the pre-production model, and what we will get later will be a very potent platform with underwater ASW capabilities.”
The acquisition of 30 Drones (10+10+10) for the three services is going on and once we get them they will be much more capable. Those drones would be much more capable.
On the possible deployment of the two MQ-9B Predator drones – “It will depend on the requirements of the Indian Army or the Air Force.”
Interacting with the media persons on the eve of the Indian Navy Day on Dec 4, the naval chief said “The P8I is a great force enabler, the MH-60 R helicopters are coming soon and they will help greatly. Upgrades of helicopters are going on, the Kamov-28, after its upgrade, will be far more potent.”
P-8I & Ongoing Standoff
During the ongoing standoff in the Eastern Ladakh region, the Indian Navy has been deploying its P-8I long-range reconnaissance aircraft on the Northern borders.
On Thursday, to a question, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh “Due to the attempts to change the `Status Quo’ on the northern borders, there has been an increase in the complexities in our security situation.”
According to the navy chief, the “The P-8I which is a potent platform and comes with certain equipment that can be used on the borders, it was deployed based on the requirements of the Indian Army and the Air Force.” These P8I were also deployed during the India-China 73 standoff in 2017 in Doklam.
Also, “From one of the Northern bases, the Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was deployed.”
Third aircraft Carrier
According to the Naval chief “the Indian Navy is extremely clear about the need of the third carrier.”
Anti Drone Equipment
As protection against attacking drones, the Indian Navy is procuring Smash-2000 rifles.
Challenges faced in 2020
On the challenges faced this year, on the eve of the Navy Day, the chief stated, “The year 2020 has been by the global pandemic of COVID-19. This has disrupted every aspect of our lives, along with the situation along the northern borders.”
More about the two leased Predator Drones from General Atomics
Due to the ongoing tensions between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the government leased two Predator Drones from General Atomics of the US to fill the capability gap. And these have been leased for a short period and have capable platforms and with an endurance of over 33 hours.
The maintenance will be done by the US-based company and the data and operations will be with the Indian Navy, as per the lease agreement.
Proposed Maritime Theatre Command (MTC)
“It is a work in work in progress. The Andaman and Nicobar Command would be a part of the Maritime Theatre Command,” the chief added.