Interview with Admiral R Hari Kumar, Chief of Naval Staff, Indian Navy

Q:What kind of missiles is the IN acquiring for its surface fleet?

Ans. Surface fleet would be augmented with indigenous Surface to Surface missiles and Surface to Air missiles under production. A comprehensive design and development program for State-of-the-Art missile systems is underway and future ships will be equipped with these missiles.

Q: There has been talk on the Indian Navy at some point ordering/ inducting the IMRH helicopter from HAL as of now called the DBMRH. Is this true and what is the roadmap?

Ans: In keeping with the Make in India and Aatmanirbhar Bharat Vision of the Government, a case for design and development of Medium Lift Helicopter (MLH) of 12.5 to 14 T category is being progressed for Indian Defence Forces. This caters for requirement of Medium Lift Helicopters for IAF/ IA and Multi Role Helicopters for Indian Navy. The case would be progressed under Buy (Indian-IDDM) categorisation with Special Purpose Vehicle wherein HAL along with suitable private player(s) would undertake design and development of envisaged variants of IMRH and Deck Based Multi-Role Helicopter (DBMRH). The case is at pre-AoN stage wherein requisite provisions are being incorporated in DAP 2020 to execute the Government’s mission to achieve self-reliance in defence products. Design and development process is expected to take about 7 to 8 years to enable realisation of the platform commencing from ninth year of project sanction. DBMRH for Indian Navy would be in three variants, viz, ASW/ ASuW, Special Ops and AEW.

Q: A question you have been asked numerous times: how are the trials going on for the IAC aircraft plans, ie Rafale and F-18?

Ans. Rafale-M and F/A 18 have completed the Op Demo at SBTF, Goa in Jan 22 and Jun 22 respectively towards verifying that the aircraft meet IN requirements as well as compatibility with the aircraft carriers. Staff Evaluation of both the aircraft is under deliberation. Post finalisation of the selection of the aircraft, an intergovernmental procurement process would be followed in accordance with the Defence Acquisition Procedure.

Q : Can you tell us how useful have the General Atomic’s UAS been for the Indian Navy ISR needs and are you satisfied enough to order more or lease more?

Ans. Though IN has been operating RPAs for the last two decades, operations of Sea Guardian has greatly enhanced our surveillance capabilities. Sea Guardian RPA has enabled IN to increase surveillance activities over vast areas of Indian Ocean region ranging from Sunda Strait to Gulf of Aden. The high endurance of the aircraft has enabled IN to maintain persistent surveillance over larger areas. IN’s experience with leased operations of Sea Guardian has been good and therefore, IN is actively pursuing a case for procurement of these aircraft. Reference photo of the Sea Guardian (Photo: GA-ASI)

Q: As for the MH60R, on which class of warships are these to be deployed? Would the 24 ordered be enough?

Ans. MH-60R would cater for the Air ASW/ASV requirements of the fleet. The helicopters would be primarily based on ships of frigate size and above. In addition, these helicopters would also be employed for operational tasks from ashore at naval bases. IN is also progressing a case for development of indigenous Deck Based Multi-role Helicopter (DBMRH) through HAL for operations from ships in the near future. These aircraft would be capable of undertaking Airborne Early Warning, Anti Surface/ Anti-submarine warfare as well as Special Ops roles. These platforms would be the mainstay of Naval Aviation in the near future.

Q: In brief, can you tell us about the Indian Navy warship Acquisition plans?

Ans. Indian Navy is evolving continuous ly to meet emerging challenges to our maritime interests. The modernisation program of IN is centred on Atmanirbharta which defines India’s growth story. Threats, missions, capability development and affordability have, remained dominant factors in the force structure planning of the Service. The expansion plan in future includes induction of aircraft carriers, state-of-the-art Next Generation Warships, nuclear powered and conventional submarines, revitalisation of aviation and sub-surface assets, augmentation of unmanned solutions to enhance combat capabilities, and induction of niche technology and equipment to address emergent and future threats. Further, development of technical and support infrastructure for maintenance of these new inductions is also being progressed. In consonance with the GoI initiative of ‘Make in India’, 43 out of 45 ships and submarines presently on order are being constructed in Indian Public and Private Shipyards. Further, AoN has been accorded for acquisition of 49 ships and six submarines all to be constructed indigenously in Indian Shipyards.