House panel apprised of collusive threat from China and Pakistan

China has grown from having 250 ships to over 350 in just over a decade, Navy representative says in submission to Parliamentary standing committee; Islamabad’s maritime force projected to expand by 50% with help from Beijing.

April 07, 2023 11:53 pm | Updated April 08, 2023 08:01 am IST - NEW DELHI

While the Indian Navy’s fleet is growing, it must further expand capacity, officials said. File photo

While the Indian Navy’s fleet is growing, it must further expand capacity, officials said. File photo | Photo Credit: PTI

The Indian Navy currently has a strength of around 130 ships and submarines and while the target is to have a 200-ship Navy, given the current trajectory it is likely to have 155-160 ships, Chief of Defence Staff and Secretary, Department of Military Affairs Gen. Anil Chauhan has said in a submission to the Parliamentary standing committee on defence.

This is while the Chinese Navy with around 355 ships has grown to be the world’s largest Navy in terms of numbers. The committee was appraised of the possible collusive threat from both China and Pakistan and the former’s role in expansion of Pakistan’s Navy.

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“The Indian Navy’s strength today is about 131 ships... Our plan to build the Navy to around 200 ships. But the way we are going now, we will reach between 155-160. In terms of pure numbers, they are very less. However, a few factors have to be kept in mind as these issues are dependent on geography...,” Gen. Chauhan said in the report.

As per the standing committee report tabled in the Parliament in the just concluded session, Gen. Chauhan said that in 4-5 years from now the Chinese Navy will have a strength of about 555 ships. The name of China or Pakistan weren’t directly mentioned and left blank in the report while describing them.

The Indian Navy currently has 143 aircraft and 130 helicopters. In addition, 43 ships and submarines are under construction at various shipyards while initial approval exists for the indigenous construction of 51 ships, six submarines and 111 Naval Utility Helicopters.

While noting that the number of assets required for various types of aircraft is calculated based on Indian Navy’s envisaged tasks and missions, available surface assets, areas of interest and other factors, as promulgated in the Long-Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP) 2012-27, the committee noted, “However, there is a shortfall of planes and helicopters for reconnaissance and transport, which is being mitigated through progressive procurement.”

A Navy representative said in the submission to the committee that in just over a decade, China has grown from having 250 navy ships to more than 350 and become the largest navy in the world. Along with their numbers, their operations have also expanded and at any point of time, five to nine of their ships are operating in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and their research vessels are also operating which can influence our security, the representative said.

Further, the representative stated that there is also a possibility of collusion between China and Pakistan against India and referred to the expansion of the Pakistani Navy. From now to 2030, the Pakistani Navy is projected to expand by 50% with China playing the biggest role in the expansion. Hence, it is absolutely imperative that Indian Navy expand its capability, the representative added.

“To counter emerging threats, a balanced built-up of the Navy is required whether it is ships, submarines or aircraft which can only be enabled by sustainably assured funding.”

The committee in this regard want to state that the Ministry should assess the threat perception which has increased many folds in view of hostile nations in the neighbourhood and the increase in trade in the Indian Ocean Region, the report said.

Chinese presence in the IOR began in 2008 under the garb of anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and the country have since maintained continuous presence in the region, even deploying nuclear attack submarines (SSN) on occasions. China has also since set up a military base in Djibouti and has developed several dual use ports in the IOR in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Pakistan among other countries.

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