Chinese Song Class diesel electric submarine

by Brig Arun Bajpai

If Indian History is glanced, one thing stands out loud and clear that till Maratha Empire had their powerful Navy, foreign invaders like British, Dutch and Portuguese could not get a toe hold in littoral India. Only after their decline we had western colonisation with British ruling us for 200 years. This after 800 years slavery of Moguls, who basically came from Afghanistan. Any other country and their Netas taking lesson from this, would have given first priority to our Armed Forces after independence in 1947, who had won both First and Second World War for Britain. Today 71 years have passed and our Army is having 70% weapons which are museum pieces, instead of authorised 200 Ships Navy has just 130 ships, instead of 24 modern submarines including nuclear powered we have just 13 old submarines that also rickety and instead of authorised 45 fighter squadrons, our Air Force is down to 31 fighter squadrons due to lack of planes while our able , uneducated, lacking strategic knowledge Netas and Babus are busy in their Kissan Karj Mafi and other free buys like free Bijali, free Pani and what have you, for their respective vote banks. However, they have no money for India’s Armed Forces and security of the nation.

A few years back India had 19 submarines which at that time were not so rickety. Well knowing that its takes lot of lead time for Navy Arm of any country to build, Indian Navy had been crying horse that these submarines are reaching their retirement age and replacements are needed, Indian Netas and Ministry of Defence totally staffed by civilian Babus did not budge. As a result, today, we have just 13 submarines of very old vintage with at any time only five to six submarines operational. our Scorpene Submarine program of French building six modern submarines for India, is running five years late. Our nuclear submarine building programme which started in 1980 has now produced a Baby Boomer nuclear powered submarine INS Arihant, which is fully operational. Other three nuclear powered submarines will be ready only by 2022. We have taken one nuclear powered submarine Chakra on lease from Russia which is real power full but it can only carry conventional missiles, that also up to 350 km range, due to international restrictions. Our follow-on submarine building programme P-751 is only on drawing board yet to take off. This is total callousness by our Netas not realising that in anti-nuclear warfare today, submarine arm, specially of nuclear variety is most potent and productive. Now compare this with China's sixty conventional submarines and 11 nuclear powered submarines and Pakistan five modern Augusta Class submarines with eight more to come from China. We must not forget that China and Pakistan have joined hands against India. any other country but India would have woken up to this building threat long time back but not Indian Netas busy in their Rajneeti and Kootneeti and Indian Babus in filling their own coffers irrespective of which government comes in power or goes.

Last month a Chinese submarine was sighted in Indian ocean, first time after Doklam stand off with China in Chumbi Valley of Bhutan in Aug 2017. This will be eighth Chinese submarine, patrolling in Indian ocean since 2013. Chinese have been keeping their presence felt in Indian ocean felt for almost a decade with their surface ships in the garb of anti-piracy operations. However, presence of Chinese submarines and their tender ships are a different ball game both strategically and tactically. Indian ocean is India’s back yard and should be dominated by India with India exercising dominance in littoral states of Indian ocean. However, with Chinese presence and their submarines including nuclear submarines cruising in Indian ocean, especially in exclusive economic zones of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, both South Asian states, challenges Indian dominance. This leads to exasperation and helplessness in Indian circles. Tactically also, these Chinese submarines moving undetected for long periods in Indian ocean, provide a psychological advantage to China, giving impression that India is unable to track and stop foray of these Chinese submarines in Indian ocean. We must not forget that the way Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, all South Asian countries are cocking a snoot at us, it is showing to the world the declining influence of India against China in South Asia. On top of its Chinese submarines are also moving about in Indian ocean undetected, then it is definitely worrisome for India. 

Having failed to develop a solid deterrence to Chinese naval activities in Indian ocean, Indian Netas and Babus should have rushed to take on crutches of US Navy till they develop a viable deterrence to China-Pakistan combine, if they at all. However here also they have been tardy and afraid of China, otherwise what excuse they have of not strengthening QUAD the jointness of US, Australia, Japan and India navies. It is only now that India is taking tentative steps in this direction. Similarly, India is now planning to be closer to Japanese Navy to share real time information of movements of Chinese Submarines. Operational coordination and engagement with South Eastern Asian Nations of India Navies are also under par. Why? We Indians are always reactive in strategic and tactical mode instead of proactive, because in our system, strategically clueless Indian Netas and Babus prefer to take military and strategic advice from India’s NSAs who always happens to be a Babu or Police. Somehow these Netas neither institute CDS system, laying approved since 2003 so that they get single window military advice, nor they like to interact with military. Really strange. Time this must change earliest in India because world politics and threats are changing very fast and security of India can not be compromised on the alter of Indian Neta’s and Babus whims and fancies. CDS must be implemented. India must go all out for QUAD and our submarine building program P-751 must leave drawing board to implementation. Indian Netas must not forget that countries security is supreme and a militarily strong nation only is respected in the comity of nations. China with 150 dollar per year defence budget and US with 678-billion-dollar yearly defence budgets are not fools.

Brig Arun Bajpai (Retd) is a distinguished Defence and Strategic Analyst. Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IDN. IDN does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same