India Aims for Blue-Water Navy

Wednesday, November 01, 2006
A truly blue-water Navy with strategic reach to operate from Africa's eastern coast right up to Malacca Straits. A satellite networked-force with maritime surveillance capabilities to keep tabs on the entire Indian Ocean Region (IOR). That, in short, is the mantra of Admiral Sureesh Mehta, who took over as the India's Navy chief from Admiral Arun Prakash.

It's certainly required with maritime security now becoming inextricably entwined with overall strategic policy, with the fact that both China and Pakistan are taking rapid strides towards boosting their naval capabilities. India is dependent on sea-borne trade, with 90 percent of its total trade by volume being transported through waterways. It also has to keep track of its vast Economic Exclusive Zone.

The Navy, for instance, wants to induct eight long-range maritime patrol aircraft as well as more UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to plug the existing operational gaps in its surveillance capabilities. The Navy also seeks to act as a stabilising force in IOR, seeing itself as a diplomatic instrument to further India's geostrategic objectives.

Induction of 16,900-ton American amphibious transport vessel USS Trenton next year and 44,570-ton Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov in 2008, with its complement of MiG-29K fighters, will take Navy's war-fighting capabilities to "a different dimension" altogether. Source: 1st Times News Network

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