Philip wrote:The CBG escorts,support ships require other stores,ammo apart from oil.They aren't N-powered.Plus they will feature a much larger aviation package and human resources too.The fundamental issue is cost of the entire package of acquisition,maintenance and support over 3 decades,its affordability in a balanced fleet. Right now we require at least 3 carriers before 2025. The most affordable package would be a sister ship of the new Vikrant,perhaps with some modifications and "stretched" config.
So what exactly makes a CBG? May I humbly submit that in the Indian context, a CBG will consist of:
1. Kolkata or Vishakhapatnam class with long range SAMs.
2. A second rung destroyer with surface attack capabilities such as the Rajput class equipped with Brahmos.
3. One or two Kamorta class Anti sub warfare corvettes.
4. A Fleet Tanker
5. One SSN.
6. The Carrier to tie it all together.
With the exception of the SSN, all of these combatants are already available with the IN, so to argue that buying a carrier will result in 'even more expenditure' to buy moar 'escorts' is nonsense. In fact, its not the other ships that are escorting the carrier, but its the other way round! The carrier enables the deployment of this combat group in hostile seas. By themselves, these ships would be destroyed systematically.
Further, if the carrier has a catapult, it can launch anti sub planes (the most effective way to hunt subs) and early warning planes (the most effective way to coordinate strike and to defend oneself from incoming threats).
The next thing to consider is, that we *are* going to get more carriers. INS Vikrant is not going to be the last carrier we build! So there is no fungibility between the money set aside for the next carrier and subs! The only fungibility that exists is between:
(1) money for a large carrier vs a small carrier. [For Indian shipyards, $2 billion]
(2) money for a catapult. [$750 million]
(3) money for the extra airwing. [20 extra fighters @80 million a pop, three AEW planes @200 million a pop = $2.2 Billion]
(4) money for nuclear propulsion. [?? Lets take this off the table, unless the Great Khan gifts us the propulsion. Though there may be lifetime savings with this option..]
Now, even a small carrier will cost around $5-7B overall, the money saved in the cost for 1 through 4 should be around $5Billion. Given that a Western DE AIP equipped sub costs around $1B a pop, the question that the sub wallahs needs to answer is, what will your combat group look like with these 5 extra submarines? and will your combat group now be able to go in hostile waters with these 5 extra subs?
Given that IN does not appear to be interested in buying more Kilo subs (perhaps because of sensors being 'not good enough'), that option appears to be a nonstarter.Edit (Added later):
Say, you are putting together a taskforce centered around a small carrier to face a Chinese task force in the Phillipine sea. Lets throw in our 5 DE AIP subs into this taskforce. Immediately, you run into a huge problem.. The subs cant keep up with the rest of your fleet! So you will need to 'pre-deploy' them, lets forget about the problem of sustaining their 'predeployment' with a fleet tanker.
Lets say, by a feat of coordination, all the combatants are able to rendezvous and face a Chinese CBG. With a Cat-less small carrier, our radar horizon will be certainly less than 200kms. So we wont be able to find the CBG till they (and we) are in range of each others task forces. Without a CAT, our weapons **will not** be able to outrange those on any Chinese CBG. Because we are infidels and dont have green djinns to help us, we will certainly take some damage from this confrontation. The Chinese carrier is also much larger than us (given that their design is going to be based on Varyag/Kuznetsov base) and carries many more aircraft, it follows that it will be able to absorb damage better than our smaller carrier.
Lets say, we locate the Chinese CBG, now word needs to go back to Vishakapatnam, and then to our subs through our VLF comm channel. Now the subs need to speed towards the Chinese CBG in order to fire their torps/missiles. At a helter-skelter (for a sub) speed of 18 knots, the subs will take several hours to get within firing range! And by the time it gets there, the batteries will be running super low.
Lets be realistic.. Subs are great.. but they are very specialized weapons.. somewhat like Special Forces in the Army. They can't be substitutes for bread-butter surface platforms.. Someone pushing subs in the place of carriers and CBGs is like someone saying, why do we need armored divisions? lets just have more SF regiments!