Navy tests new waters with N-subs, Indigenous Carrier
Posted online : Saturday , Jan 02, 2010
at 0153 hrs
Unlike the Army and Air Force, the Navy has its modernisation plans on track and the coming year will see a massive addition in capabilities of the country’s smallest armed force. On all fronts — underwater, on the surface, in the air and even outer space — the Navy is set to acquire and add new platforms and assets that will widen its edge over maritime forces of neighbouring countries.
While the Navy has reached blue water capabilities, the absence of a few vital assets has constrained it from showcasing its true potential. The biggest asset the Navy is set to get in 2010 is the Nerpa nuclear attack submarine on a 10-year lease from Russia.
After several delays and hiccups, the re-entry of a nuclear powered platform in the Navy (after the INS Chakra that was also leased from Russia in the 1980s) will be a massive force addition. Besides the obvious benefits of having a stealthy submarine that can stay underwater for several weeks and even give US warships a run for their money
, the Nerpa will be a vital training platform.
The Nerpa will help train Indian Navy personnel on nuclear submarine operations, a skill that will be needed to be imparted to a large number of officers and men who will operate the indigenous Arihant class of nuclear submarines in coming years.
While Nerpa will shake things underwater, the Navy will also get longer legs in the coming year that will enable it to deploy ships for longer periods, in further waters than ever before. The induction of a modern tanker ship, which is currently being built by Italian firm Fincantieri, by the end of 2010
is being keenly watched by players in the region.
The tanker ship, which will Refuel and Replenish
warships on the high seas, is a major force multiplier for any nation. Its induction in the Indian Navy will mark the entry of a modern tanker that will be used for overseas deployments and will be showcased at all forthcoming exercises. Also on the surface, the coming year will mark the Historic Launch of India’s First Indigenous Aircraft Carrier . The first of the Vikrant class aircraft carriers, which is under construction in Kochi, will be Launched towards the end of 2010. This will be followed by Fitment of Weapon Systems, Sensors and other Equipment on the Warship .
While the induction will not take place before 2014, the launching of the warship itself will be a major feat, considering that it will be India’s first aircraft carrier as well as the first warship built on a Modular Design
Corresponding with the carrier, the Navy will finally see its new fighter aircraft, the MiG 29 K flying in Indian skies. While four of the fighters were delivered a few weeks ago, the first flight is expected in early January once the aircraft have been assembled by Russian technicians.
Integrating all these platforms, and bringing the Navy a step closer to network centric warfare, will be the Navy’s first dedicated satellite that is set to be launched by the middle of next year.
While the Navy currently relies on other channels of communication, the first ever dedicated military satellite to be launched next year will give it a vital communication link to bring all platforms — fighters, warships, aircraft carriers, submarines and even UAVs — on a common ground. Besides a secure communication channel, the satellite will make it easier to deploy and manage assets as part of the Navy’s network centric strategy.
While delays, hiccups and cancellations are common to all acquisitions in the armed forces, the Navy is set for a complete makeover in the coming year and decade, taking it to its rightful position as the deciding platform for military diplomacy.