A screen shot of INS Kalvari during diving trials close India's east cost naval base

Doklam Standoff

India and China were locked in an over two-month-long standoff over the latter's construction pursuits in the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction near Sikkim. The issue pertained to China developing a road in a Bhutanese territory- considered to be a strategic site.

Although tensions eventually eased and China, along with Indian troops, withdrew from the site in August, yet the entire episode points to certain gaps in India's defence capacities.

It proved that India needs better infrastructure along the Sino-Indian border, especially roads. These roads are crucial for the deployment of troops and the supply of resources in remote border regions in the event of conflict.

The Kashmir Issue

Violence in the Kashmir Valley has de-railed much for the state this year. From clashes between citizens and security forces, to several terrorist attacks, the state has been ravaged by a series of such attacks.

In fact, terrorism-related deaths in J&K increased 31% in the one year since the Indian Army conducted what it describes as “surgical strikes” in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK), stated an IndiaSpend report.

The number of terrorists killed by security personnel increased 28% from 165 in 2016 to 212 in 2017.

An ageing Sea Fleet

Yes, India has reasons to cheer for the commissioning of INS Kalavari, the first of six Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarines constructed in Mumbai using French technology. However, the hard fact is the that out of the 14 submarines, including Kalavari, the Indian Navy owns, 13 of them are between 13- and 31-years-old and need to be replaced.

The country is stepping up its efforts towards replacing its ageing warships gradually.

Indian warships are heavily outnumbered by Chinese ones- be it destroyers, frigates, covettes or missile boats. China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA-N) has 191 major surface warships, nearly four times as many as the Indian Navy (50).

China’s widening naval capabilities and India’s shortages need to be seen in the context of the PLA-N’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean.

Air Force

The Rafale fighter jets are definitely one of the major takeaways for the Indian Air Force that is looking to expand its strength. However, the 36 Rafale jets and the indegenously developed Tejas fighter planes may not be enough.

Such measures may not be able to reduce the capability gap the IAF is facing. The force has consequently shown interest in acquiring 114 new single-engine fighter jets that will service six squadrons.

Reasons to Cheer

Following two major setbacks, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) finally got its moment of success on November 7, 2017 when it successfully test-fired the subsonic Nirbhay cruise missile.

Later on in the same month, another supersonic cruise missile- BrahMos- was successfully test-fired from a modified IAF Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jet.

There are plans to modify 42 Su-30MKIs to launch BrahMos missiles.