Reeling under the heat of budget constraints, the Indian Navy has decided to rationalise its platforms, systems, and equipment to fulfil the imminent security requirements.
A senior Navy officer told The New Indian Express that finance is the biggest challenge for any state and more so when there are increasing commitment and decreasing budget. “Navy has prioritised its force acquisition and induction plan and apart from push to induct indigenously manufactured platforms, Navy is going for collaborative maritime security approach to optimise own operational capability and that of the member countries,” the officer said.
The Navy has curtailed the numbers of platforms to be inducted amid the economic challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We will be inducting 34 fighters for aircraft carriers in place of 57. We wanted 10 P8i maritime surveillance aircraft, we are accepting 6. Navy will now induct 8 Minesweepers and two Landing Platform Docks (LPD). There is the assurance of getting them more when the economy is stronger and there is a requirement,” he said.
The Navy had initially planned to get 24 Mine Sweepers, which was decreased to 12 and now 8 in numbers. Similarly, four LPDs were to be inducted.
“To get the same Maritime Domain Awareness we would have to send out more aircraft, more ships. We get that info, fuse it, and create a comprehensive picture. Many countries from the Indo-Pacific are cooperating,” he said.
India inaugurated the International Fusion Centre (IFC) for the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) in 2018 and it now has the international Liaison Officers.
“Due to the IFC-IOR, we have information available from various sources, to develop a comprehensive picture. The sea is open to all, whether your friends or your enemies.”
As reported earlier by The New Indian Express, India has the go-ahead for White Shipping Agreement with 36 countries and 3 multi-national constructs. The Navy is also pushing for Indigenously manufactured platforms, aircraft, and systems. “Navy is fully committed to supporting the HAL for the Twin Engine Deck Based Aircraft. We are committed to the budget, as well as the idea,” he said.
Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh speaking on the eve of the Navy Day had said that “We are working with DRDO on the twin-engine deck-based fighter offered to us. A lot of lessons have been learned from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) program and my hope is that the twin-engine jet can enter service by the early 2030s”.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is working on its Twin engine deck-based fighter aircraft and if that is successful, it can be the choice of the maritime force.
Leasing is the other solution opted by the Navy. “We have got a certain number of HALE on lease and we can go for other platforms in the future, as per our need,” the officer said. There was a demand for 30 HALEs.