Attempts to ‘change status quo’ on northern borders increased complexities in security situation: Navy chief

Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Stating that attempts to “change status quo” on the northern borders, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, have significantly increased the complexities in the security situation, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh said on Thursday that the Navy had on several occasions deployed its P-8I long range reconnaissance aircraft on the northern borders during the ongoing standoff in eastern Ladakh.

“The P-8I is a very potent platform ... It has certain equipment that can be used on the border. Based on the requirements of the Army and the IAF we have deployed the P-8I on several occasions during this particular situation. We have also deployed the Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) from one of the northern bases,” Admiral Karambir Singh said in response to a question from The Hindu at the annual press conference ahead of Navy Day.

The Navy had also deployed the P-8I on the northern borders during the 73 day Doklam standoff with China in 2017.

Talking of the challenges this year, Admiral Singh said year 2020 had been defined by COVID-19 pandemic which had “permeated and disrupted” every aspect of our lives and a near simultaneous attempt to change status quo on our northern borders had increased the complexities in our security situation.

On Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), Admiral Singh said Chinese research vessels and fishing vessels were being deployed but there had been “no infringement” in Indian maritime boundaries. “If any infringement happens, we have a standard operating procedure in place,” he stated.

On the possible deployment of the two MQ-9B Predator drones leased from General Atomics of the U.S. in mid-November, Admiral Singh said it depended on the requirements of the Army or the IAF and if there was a requirement they would consider it. He said the two Predators were pre-production models and the planned procurement of 30 Predators for the three Services would be much more capable.

Women officers

As part of measures to open up all avenues in the Navy to women officers, four women officers had been appointed on ships, Admiral Singh said. Two officers had been deployed on aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and fleet tanker INS Deepak in November.

Separate accommodation had been made for them and requirements catered for, said an officer on condition of anonymity. Separately, a study was under way on inducting women as sailors in the Navy, the officer added.

Budgetary constraints

With budgetary constraints and critical capability gaps, the Navy is looking at leasing platforms including minesweepers which is allowed in the new Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020. For this the Navy is focussing on niche technologies, networking, unmanned solutions, Admiral Singh said, adding indigenisation had a major role to play in this.

The Navy is also in advanced stage of issuing the tender for six submarines under P-75I being processed through the Strategic Partnership model. Admiral Singh said the case would be taken up at the next DAC meeting for clearance and the Request for Proposal (RFP) would be issued after that.

On the third aircraft carrier, Admiral Singh said the Navy was “absolutely clear” on its utility as air operations were integral to naval operations, and air power at sea was absolutely required. “If you are a nation that is aspirational, you want to become a $ 5 trillion economy shortly and you want to do well, you will have to go outwards and seek the world ... The Navy does not want to be one tethered to the shore ... For that aircraft carriers are absolutely necessary.”

Missing pilot

On the missing MIG-29K pilot following the crash in Arabian Sea last week, Admiral Singh said the sonar locator beacon was working and most of the wreckage had been located based on it. The aft seat of the co-pilot had been found and search was on for the other pilot, he said, adding, the Pilot Locator Beacon (PLB) was operated by the pilot and had to be manually activated.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 4:29:42 PM |

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