SOURCE: JOYDEEP GHOSH/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
- Recently we heard a news that US Navy decided to scrap a amphibious ship. The US Navy decided to de-commission and scrap the USS Bonhomme Richard after a damage assessment found that restoring the ship damaged by fire while sitting on a dock.
- The cost of resorting the ship was pegged at US 1 billion, instead the scrapping will cost US $ 30 million. This brings us to the mistake done by Indian Navy. Indian Navy decided to acquire the fire damaged Admiral Gorshkov for US$ 932 million in 2003 initially but after detailed inspection it was decided to buy the ship for US 2.3 billion in 2008. It was inducted into Indian Navy s INS Vikramaditya.
- The mistake is IN instead of spending so much money on a fire damaged aircraft carrier could and should have spent the same amount of money on buying Next Generation Minesweepers. iN’s minesweepers were starting retirement by 2005 and today we don’t have a single minesweeper in fleet.
- Now we are planning to buy 12 Russian design minesweepers for close to US 2.5 billion. These Project 12700 Alexandrit-class minesweepers were being designed around the same time we were negotiating the purchase of aircraft carrier. If we had decided to buy these minesweepers then, we could have made modifications to those ships as per our tropical climate requirement at the design phase itself.
- This is important as Russian ships are designed as per Artic cold requirement which is completely different from our requirement. Now if these ships are to be bought a lot of tweaking needs to be done on the ships, even if tech transfer is done any shipyard that decides to build them in India will face hell lot of challenges to optimize the design for warm climate and will take several years before delivering the minesweepers costing more than 2 times the original cost. Buying the ships from Russia would have cost much less and the time to delivery would have been been short too.
- While deciding to buy the minesweepers for the same price spent on the aircraft carrier we could have sped up the design of indigenous aircraft carriers, and with money saved could have gone in for not 1 but 2 IAC class 40000 ton aircraft carriers, the 1st of which could have joined by 2016 and the 2nd by 2020.this would have allowed IN to go for the bigger IAC 2 of 65000 ton class aircraft carriers at its own pace (probably late 2028 or 2030).
- Many will say IN would have lost its edge in carrier operation if not for INS Vikramaditya. I don’t think so IN has been operating aircraft carriers since 1961 and a few years without an actual one wouldn’t have made much difference with. IN could have used islands in Lakshadweep and Andaman (fortified and extended with excavated soil) as fixed aircraft carriers. In terms of firepower and projection besides Mig 29ks, P8Is, Jaguar IMs, a few (6-8) Tu22M3s on lease would have been more than enough.
- As such it does seem that IN made big mistake buying Vikramaditya was a mistake ultimately.
- Recently Indian Navy decided to refurbish one of its Sindhughosh class submarine and transferred INS Sindhuvir to Myanmar Navy and in future plans to supply 2-3 more of the Sindhughosh class submarines. For IIN though grappling with shortage in submarine fleet, it is a great way to boost its strategic and diplomatic outreach in its sphere of influence.
- Mistake is the sinking of Indian designed warships using Brahmos/Uran ASCM whether air or ship launched as target. A couple for Leander/Godavari class warship were sunk in past few weeks. Instead these warships should have been refurbished and upgraded to be sold to our friendly nations. This would have not only helped us expand our sphere of influence but also helped us earn much needed foreign exchange.
- There are still several Indian design several that have been decommissioned. It will be a mistake to sink them a s target practice and converting them into artificial reefs. Instead refurbishing and selling them is a much better idea.
- Refurbishing and selling decommissioned warship can help boost IN’s sphere of influence and bring in much needed cash. For target practice there are several civilian ships that can be used which would have otherwise been sent to ship wrecking yard.
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