Chinese naval forces may have a head start on India, but our ships hold the key in the Indian Ocean region
The Indian Navy warships, though outnumbered by PLAN, made it so that in the event of a confrontation at the land border or at sea, Malacca’s Chinese dilemma became its dilemma for the Indian Ocean.
Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) handed over the first Visakhapatnam-class Project 15B vessel to the Navy last month in Mumbai. It will take a few months before it is put into service and joins the fleet. When it is put into service, it will be baptized INS Visakhapatnam, followed by Mormugao, Imphal and possibly Porbandar.
Obviously, the ship does not look very different from its predecessors of the Project 15A ships (Kolkata, Chennai and Kochi); However, there are many upgrades that make the ship more powerful and less visible to enemy radars.
The backbone of electronics will be the Ethernet base, providing systems with much higher data throughput for weapon systems and therefore greater accuracy. Electronic warfare systems have been upgraded to the cutting edge of technology, as has the combat management system. [indigenous].
These are native, in addition to surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles. While Brahmos is a standard SSM fit, the LRSAM has an extended range built in conjunction with Israel. The old-fashioned surface search radar, Garpun, has been replaced by a privately built, native radar.
A closer look at the upper deck will reveal a number of stealth features. The superstructure is more compact with an improved zone rule. The helicopter hangar has undergone modifications, the helicopter’s running gear is trackless. The protrusions of the bridge were designed for the suppression of the radar signature. Even the mounting of the heavy machine gun on the bridge is electro-optically controlled, reducing the number of devices that required mechanical and large accessories.
How does this change the power equation in the Indian Ocean region [IOR] or the Indo-Pacific vis-Ã -vis China?
The CCP Navy is larger than the US Navy; China’s goal is to replace the United States from its position of unipolar hegemony of the world. China’s economy, which is five times the size of India’s, recently overtook the United States as the world’s largest economy in terms of GDP. When it comes to military technology, the United States is likely to remain in a leadership position for the foreseeable future. China is catching up quickly.
During hearings in the US Congress, US generals and admirals warned that China had overtaken the United States in the areas of cyber, space and artificial intelligence. China’s recent test of sending a hypersonic missile around the globe and then targeting a predefined area on the earth’s surface has raised alarm bells in the Pentagon. China has also established its own space station, Tiangong, positioned in low Earth orbit between 340 and 450 km above the Earth’s surface. This station gives China the ability to research and explore outer space and possibly provide advice to space-based weapons.
Therefore, India is not in military competition with China. While China has global ambitions, India sees its role in the IOR and the Indo-Pacific for specific tasks in partnership with the United States, Japan and Australia. Class 15B destroyers add to India’s maritime muscle in the IOR. Geography favors India in the IOR, with its long peninsula entering the middle of the Indian Ocean. Chinese maritime assets have a long distance to travel from Chinese ports to operate in the Indian Ocean, making them vulnerable to bans. Almost 80% of China’s energy comes from the Gulf, Africa and South America; all this must cross the Indian Ocean and finally pass through the choke points of the Straits of Malacca, the Sunda and Lombok, which makes it vulnerable to the blockade.
The United States has made it clear that no single navy can provide maritime security in the vast Indo-Pacific and therefore this congregation of Quad countries comprising Australia, Japan, India and the United States. The Indian Navy has a stated policy of its MBD (Mission Based Deployment) at seven hot spots in the IOR. Naval resources are thus deployed 24/7 to connect to the IOR Fusion Center located in Gurugram, offering very robust knowledge of the maritime domain, a key element of maritime security. It is also a cooperative architecture in which more than 30 countries participate. Five countries have positioned their naval liaison officers at the center. White shipping data is shared by all participating countries and the merged image is shared with all. It alerts participants to any unauthorized presence of an unidentified vessel that could become a threat. Destroyers have the ability to cross at high speed and close the ship for other actions.
Today’s destroyers have multiple capabilities. In addition to long-range strikes against surface targets by their 16 Supersonic Brahmos missiles, they also have a credible defense against air or missile attacks with their 32 Barack Ng long-range surface-to-air missiles. In addition, these ships are equipped with one of the best SONAR systems in the world, Humsa Ng, which is indigenous. The fire control system is equipped with powerful anti-submarine rockets and torpedoes, leaving the opponent’s submarine little chance to escape. Electronic warfare suites make the ship capable of jamming opposition radars and active homing missile warheads.
Close quarters weapon systems are very ruthless. Along with Delhi-class ships and Project 15A, the Visakhapatnam and follow-up ships make the fleets very powerful. These ships are comparable to the best in class anywhere in the world. The majority of ships built in India are the best examples of India’s “aatmanirbhar”.
The construction of warships in India is very advanced. Having started in the late 1960s with Leanders, today we build world class ships. India exported ships to friendly foreign countries. The ecosystem associated with shipbuilding has created a number of MSMEs, which are a source of employment. Being the largest and most powerful resident navy in the IOR, India is a privileged partner of the majority of the IOR countries. Therefore, the handing over of this destroyer also reflects India’s industrial prowess.
Unfortunately, China does not enjoy this reputation. He has few friends who practically let him fight his own battles in the oceans. Cooperation agreements between navies are necessary for the maritime safety of the oceans.
Chinese leader Hu Jintao had spoken of China’s dilemma in Malacca due to its dependence and vulnerability to this strait, so essential for its energy security. China has created alternative overland routes by laying pipelines and unloading its crude at ports from where it can be transported by land, thus reducing the passage of crude carriers through Malacca and other straits in Indonesian waters. Indian Navy warships, though outnumbered by PLAN, ensured that in the event of a confrontation at the land or sea border, the Chinese dilemma of Malacca became its dilemma for the ocean. Indian.
The author is the former Commander-in-Chief of Western Naval Command and a director of the India Foundation. The opinions expressed are personal.