Indian Navy warship, INS Sahyadri

Third Aircraft Carrier

Apart from six new submarines, which would be in addition to the Kalvari-class that has recently begun sailing out of yards in Mumbai, the plans for acquisition include the construction of a third aircraft carrier, now on paper called the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier II (IAC II).

The  Navy has sent the proposal to the government. It is a blueprint. It's envisaged building the IAC II as a 65,000-tonne carrier.

Despite the lofty plans, ship and submarine building plans for the Indian Navy have a notorious record of going awry. In 1999, under the previous NDA rule, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government had approved a 30-year submarine building plan. It envisaged the acquisition of 24 submarines by the Navy by 2030. Only one — the INS Kalvari, the first of the Scorpene-class — has been commissioned in 18 years.

Among the types of ships that the Indian Navy urgently needs are Mine Counter-Measure Vessels (MCMVs), the last of which is to be decommissioned within months. Such vessels are tasked to clear entry and exit routes to ports of potential sabotage by adversaries.

He said the Indian Navy had a decisive edge over the Pakistan Navy at present, even after Pakistan contracted eight submarines from China earlier this year.

Response To China

The 10-year plan that Admiral Lanba announced Monday is a response to the Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy plan to sail four aircraft carriers in the same period. China currently has one carrier, the Liaoning, in its fleet. A second is being tried at sea.

India has one carrier, the INS Vikramaditya (formerly the Admiral Gorshkov).

“It is important to have at least two (carrier) battle groups all the time. We are working on the IAC II that we think will take seven to 10 years (to build). We should be able to operate at least two carrier battle groups while one (carrier) would be in refit,” explained Lanba.

“I think that in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), at least, the balance of power is in our favour against China. In the South China Sea, the balance of power is in China’s favour,” he said.

He said that there were six to eight Chinese warships in the IOR at all times. These included three in a counter-piracy role off the east coast of Africa and three to four survey vessels and satellite-control ships.