Home / Geopolitics / India enhancing Naval capability and collaborations to counter growing Chinese threat in Indian Ocean

India enhancing Naval capability and collaborations to counter growing Chinese threat in Indian Ocean

The IOR is the region around the Indian Ocean. It includes the 22 member nations of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), along with other countries such as Myanmar in Southeast Asia,  Pakistan, and Djibouti in East Africa.

India's careful approach to China continues - Asian Military Review


 Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy, or PLAN) has been expanding rapidly and in 2020, the PLAN overtook the US Navy (USN) to become the largest Navy in the world by number of commissioned warships. In April 2021, the PLAN commissioned three new warships together on the same day. Crucially, these were not small inshore vessels, but an amphibious assault ship, a guided missile cruiser, and a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine—exactly the types of ships that analysts have said the PLAN lacks as it squares up the US Navy.


The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) fleet is increasingly designed for oceanic deployments beyond China’s near seas and is rapidly expanding its amphibious capability. China already operates some 15 frontline replenishment ships and with the Y-20 strategic airlifter in service in rapidly increasing numbers, enhancing PLAN’s ability to conduct out-of-area operations.


China’s threat in Indian Ocean

The PLAN conducts frequent oceanographic survey and submarine deployments, maintaining a constant presence of at least seven or eight navy ships in the Indian Ocean at any time. Having established its first-ever overseas military base on the western edge of the ocean, in Djibouti in 2017, China continues to develop other ports from Tanzania to Indonesia under the banner of the Belt and Road Initiative. It is also expanding security cooperation with regional states.


In October 2018, the Indian Navy tracked a Chinese submarine that ventured into the Indian Ocean for a month, Indian Navy Chief said Admiral Sunil Lanba. Admiral Lanba further added that there are about six to eight Chinese PLA Navy ships in the Indian Ocean at any given time.  The Chinese navy has deployed a submarine, a Type O39A Yuan class boat, in the ocean for the first time in over a year. The PLAN is known to send two conventional submarines to the area every year, Lanba had said. The Indian Navy has tracked at least six Chinese submarines in the IOR, with an operational turn-around stop mainly at Karachi, over the last four years, as was earlier reported by TOI. To operate in the Indian Ocean, Chinese submarines need to sail through either the Malacca, Lombok or Sunda Straits where the shallow depth of the waters international regulations mean that they have to remain surfaced or visible.


The presence of Chinese nuclear attack submarines in the Indian Ocean reinforces Beijing’s aggression in competing with India for dominance in a region strategically vital to India’s security. The presence of Chinese nuclear attack submarines in the Indian Ocean reinforces Beijing’s aggression in competing with India for dominance in a region strategically vital to India’s security. Unlike conventional submarines, nuclear-powered submarines have an unlimited range of operations since their nuclear reactors rarely require to be refuelled. This means the submarines, which are armed with torpedoes and cruise missiles, can be deployed underwater for extended durations where they are difficult to track.


Indian Defense Ministry report had warned of the “grave threat” posed by the Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean. It suggested that China is widening its orbit of patrols beyond Chinese waters to jockey for control of highly sensitive sea lanes. China has defended the presence of its submarines in the Indian Ocean as “legitimate” and in accordance with “international practices”, “Talking about the submarines, the Chinese submarines cross some of sea areas and those crossings are legitimate and legal and follow the international practices,” said China’s defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun  during  media interaction.


China’s approach to the IOR is a diplomatic strategy based on strengthening ties to the coastline countries, primarily by providing assistance for development of infrastructure such as harbors alongside its Belt and Road Initiative. The Indian Ocean sea lanes that provide routes for importing energy from Middle Eastern and African countries are crucial for China’s growth, making the IOR a region of high strategic importance for the country geopolitically.


“Beijing is now increasingly using its anti-piracy deployment as justification for expanding its naval presence in the Indian Ocean and making it more permanent. This has included deployments of conventional and nuclear attack (SSN) submarines to the northern Indian Ocean as well as expanding the PLAN’s access to infrastructure in the region, possibly including developing port facilities for use by the PLAN in Djibouti.” According Senior Colonel Zhou Bo of the Chinese Academy of Military Science in the official China Daily English language newspaper, ‘India alone cannot assure the security of the Indian Ocean, even if it regards the Indian Ocean as its backyard and wishes no one to compete with it there.


Earlier, an Indian Defense Ministry report had warned of the “grave threat” posed by the Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean. It suggested that China is widening its orbit of patrols beyond Chinese waters to jockey for control of highly sensitive sea lanes. China is also building $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)  that will give Beijing access to the Indian Ocean through Gwadar besides running through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.


The navy keeps a sharp eye on the pattern and periodicity of extra-regional deployments in the Indian Ocean Region. A fleet of 50 combat-ready Indian warships is carrying out round-the-clock surveillance of the waters. At any given time, China has six to seven warships deployed in the region.


To operate in the Indian Ocean, Chinese submarines need to sail through either the Malacca, Lombok or Sunda Straits where the shallow depth of the waters international regulations mean that they have to remain surfaced or visible. A Chinese nuclear attack submarine docked in the harbour in Karachi in May last year, proving that Beijing might be scrutinizing Indian warships’ movements far more closely than earlier. Indian naval experts, have speculated that the submarine shown could be Chinese Type 093 ‘Shang’ class, far quieter and tougher to detect and equipped with newer weapons and advanced technology including its nuclear reactor.


China enhancing security partnerships with India’s neighbors 

Many analysts, particularly Indian analysts, also express grave concerns about Beijing’s active security and defence diplomacy in the Indian Ocean, particularly among India’s neighbours such as Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives, which have all developed cordial security relationships with China. With China acquiring a string of ports in Myanmar, Iran, Sri Lanka and Djibouti, the Indian Navy remains on high alert. According to experts at EurAsian Times, China is trying to contain the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean region (IOR), an area which New Delhi considers its sphere of influence.


Over the last decade, Pakistan has strengthened its naval links with China, its biggest international partner. Pakistan State Radio announced a deal to acquire 8 Chinese Yuan-class conventional diesel-electric powered submarines. The first four submarines are expected to be delivered by the end of 2023 while the others will be assembled in Karachi by 2028. Perhaps most significantly, China has access to Pakistan’s strategic Gwadar port, central to the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that is under development, in addition to its own recently constructed naval base in Djibouti situation in the Horn of Africa.


In recent years, China has helped to build a network of ports or facilities in South Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Myanmar and secured docking rights in Seychelles. China is also developing key ports in Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa. However, many security experts see no reason for alarm. They point out that ports cannot be quickly converted into naval facilities.  “Because the fact is in war time no port in the Indian Ocean is going to be available to the Chinese navy,” noted strategic affairs analyst Bharat Karnad at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi. “No port. Because none of these countries can afford to alienate India.


However, two natural bases for PLAN  could be Gwadar and Djibouti.  And there is another Chinese port under construction at Gwadar in Pakistan. Work on an extension of that port, which may include a Chinese naval base, appears to be imminent.  Once through into the Indian Ocean, the submarines could get rearmed or resupplied without having to return to China. The Chinese Navy has already built a base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. Gwadar has an advantage in that it is connected by land to China so supplies would not have to go by sea.



China is closing in on India to get greater access to the Indian Ocean from ports in Myanmar, said a keen observer of China-Myanmar relations, who underlined that New Delhi should increase its naval capabilities to counter that. A regional expert, who goes by the pseudonym Yan Naing said the stakes are made even higher by the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), a portion of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The CMEC, the umbrella for a host of infrastructure projects, runs from Yunnan Province to the Indian Ocean port of Kyaukphyu in western Myanmar. Naing pointed out that CMEC will enable China’s navy, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), to encroach on the Bay of Bengal.




India has already sealed a $3 billion deal with Russia for leasing an Akula-class SSN. The boat, to be known as Chakra III, is likely to be delivered to India sometime around 2025 after extensive refurbishment. It will be a replacement for INS Chakra, which was leased from Russia, commissioned into the Indian Navy in 2012 and returned to the country of her origin earlier this year, months before the expiry of the lease.


China’s expanding military capacity in the Indian Ocean region  also poses risks for the United States and its partners. The United States and its partners—namely, the United States, India, Japan, and Australia, which banded together as the “Quad” — have proclaimed their commitment to the “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision. India, the United States, Japan and Australia carried their largest joint naval exercises in over a decade in Nov 2020 seen as part of efforts to balance China’s vast military and economic power in the region. Five ships of the Indian Navy, including a submarine, were deployed in the exercise along with U.S. Navy’s John S McCain missile destroyer, Australia’s Ballarat frigate and a Japanese destroyer, the Indian ministry of defence said.


A maritime security operations working group has also been established. At a more tactical level, improvements have been made in maritime domain awareness (MDA) following the two countries’ White Shipping Agreement. This has resulted in inputs six times each day into India’s maritime ‘information fusion centre’ tracking merchant vessels. In September 2020, an India-France-Australia dialogue was also initiated, involving three capable resident maritime states in the Indian Ocean, at the level of foreign secretaries.


India has been a strategic partner to the US since President Donald Trump started pushing his Indo-Pacific strategy in Asia to counter a rising China. India and US have signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement  that allows the two countries to use each other’s military facilities for refuelling, food, and medical services, among other benefits. The agreement multiplies the Indian navy’s potential reach by allowing access to U.S. bases in Djibouti and Diego Garcia.


In another development, the Indian Navy’s Talwar-class guided missile frigate INS Tarkash has participated in the seventh iteration of joint India-Brazil-South Africa maritime (IBSAMAR) exercise. The trilateral exercise was conducted in Port Gqeberha, South Africa in October 2022. It aimed to enhance the military training interoperability of the participating assets and forces to combat maritime crimes, to safeguard Sea Lines of Communication as well as to bolster maritime relations between the three nations.




China’s Numerical superiority driving Indian Naval Modernization

Numerically Chinese Naval forces are much larger than indian. For example China’s submarine fleet consists of more than 70 submarines, including seven nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), 12 nuclear attack submarines (SSN), and more than 50 diesel attack submarines. The fleet size is more than three times the size of the Indian Navy which operates less than 20 submarines. 


Chinese Naval threat including submarines require new technologies multistatic sonar, AUVs for Anti-Submarine Warfare, swarm of smart mines, swarm of small missile boats, and swarm of Missiles to sink Aircraft carrier that will threaten its Naval presence in IOR.


India’s defence ministry in Feb 2019 approved a US$5.6 billion project for six advanced submarines to be built under a strategic partnership model to boost the country’s undersea forces, the Hindustan Times reported.  The report said the submarine project would help the Indian navy counter the swift expansion of China’s fleet. The government has approved 56 ships and submarines. Some of these will replace the existing fleet and include new ships like fleet ships, submarines, and mine sweepers,” Admiral Lanba stated. Admiral Lanba said the construction plan would take a decade. The 56 ships would be in addition to the 32 ships and submarines currently under construction.


Although both India and China observe ‘no first-use’ nuclear policy, larger fleet size will give China an advantage in sea-based nuclear domain. The majority (six) of the SSBNs in active service with the Chinese Navy are Jin-class (Type 094/094A) second-generation nuclear-powered submarines, which are designed to carry up to 12 JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). 


The Indian Navy, on the other hand, has just one nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, INS Arihant, in active service. The Indian Navy’s indigenously built nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant has successfully tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). The SLBM’s user training test-launch was carried out in the Bay of Bengal region in October 2022.


China has the Type 91 Han-class and the Type 093 Shang-class SSNs in active service, whereas India has just one SSN, INS Chakra (S71) – an 8,140t Akula-class submarine that can accommodate up to 12 Granit submarine-launched cruise missiles.


China has two aircraft carriers, CNS Liaoning and CNS Shandong, as opposed to India’s only aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya. Inducted into the People’s Liberation Army Navy in 2012, Liaoning has a range of 7,130km, operates at a speed of 53.7kmph, and can carry up to 24 J-15 fighter aircraft, six Z-8 helicopters, and four Kamov Ka-31 helicopters. CNS Shandong can operate at least 36 J-15s. Both the aircraft carriers have a displacement of 50,000t.


Commissioned in 2013, INS Vikramaditya is a modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier with a range exceeding 7,000nm. The 44,500t short take-off, but assisted recovery (STOBAR) aircraft carrier can carry more than 30 aircraft, including MiG 29K / Sea Harrier, Sea King, Kamov 31, and Kamov 28 helicopters, as well as HAL-built Chetak helicopters. Liaoning has a longer deck than INS Vikramaditya and weighs up to 17,000t more. Greater deck size means the Chinese aircraft carrier can carry more munitions. More aircraft carriers mean China will be able to more rapidly deploy aircraft in areas without airbases.


China has a significantly larger fleet of destroyers compared to India. China’s Renhai-class advanced guided-missile destroyer has a range of 5,000nm and can escort carrier strike groups in blue water operations. It is armed with YJ-18A anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), Yu-8 anti-submarine rockets, and YJ-100 long-range ASCMs, in addition to HQ-10 and HHQ-9B surface-to-air-missiles. The Renhai’s 128 vertical launch system (VLS) silos are a significant improvement over the Luyang III class’ (Type 052D) 64 vertical launch cells.


In comparison, the Indian Navy’s INS Kolkata-class of destroyers can carry fewer missiles (32 Barak-8 missiles in vertical launch cells and 16 BrahMos anti-ship missiles). The INS Kolkata-class can fire all the 16 BrahMos missiles simultaneously. BrahMos, the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile, however, has a shorter range of 290km compared to the 537km range of the YJ-18 supersonic ASCM used by the Chinese Navy’s Luyang III-class (Type 052D) destroyers.


The Indian Navy is set to strengthen its INS Delhi, INS Kolkata, and Rajput-class guided-missile destroyers with the future Visakhapatnam-class (Project 15B) destroyers that are expected to enter service starting 2021.


The Chinese Navy operates a range of frigates including Jiangkai-II class (Type 054A), Jiangkai I-class, Jianghu-class, and Jiangwei II-class. The Jiangkai-II class (Type 054A) can support anti-air, anti-surface, and anti-submarine warfare operations. They can launch the HQ-16 medium-range SAMs up to a range of 50km and the YJ-83 (C-803) sea-skimming anti-ship missile that can hit targets 250km away.


The Indian Navy also has a strong fleet of frigates. Considered the first stealth warships built domestically, the INS Shivalik-class frigates have several radars that perform functions such as air search, weapon control, and fire control. The frigates have structural, thermal, and acoustic stealth features, which reduce the vulnerability of detection and maintain low noise levels. The land-attacking capability of the INS Shivalik-class is primarily due to its ability to launch BrahMos supersonic and Klub anti-ship cruise missiles. Other frigate classes of the Indian Navy are Talwar, Brahmaputra, and Godavari, while advanced Talwar-class frigates are being imported from Russia under Project 11356 in order to significantly upgrade operational capabilities against air targets, surface ships, and submarines. The Talwar-class frigate’s single-arm launcher can launch just one missile at a time, whereas the PLA Navy’s Type-054A frigate is equipped with a vertical launch system (VLS) that allows for firing multiple missiles simultaneously.


However, China has only a limited number of blue water naval combatants and few long range air strike capabilities. Further, China’s ability to project power into the Indian Ocean remains highly constrained by the long distance from Chinese ports and air bases, the lack of logistical support, and the need for Chinese naval vessels to deploy to the Indian Ocean through chokepoints.” Many western analysts are now debating whether China is pursuing a ‘places not bases’ strategy in the Indian Ocean under which the PLAN would have access to only limited facilities for specific purposes or contingencies.


The Andaman and Nicobar Command, a tri-service command of the Indian Armed Forces, mans a strategically important zone. Indian Navy’s strong presence in the Andaman Sea makes China vulnerable in the region since the majority of Chinese imports have to pass through the Malacca Strait, a narrow passage between Malaysia and Indonesia.


India should increase its naval capabilities to counter China threat

Indian Navy is set to announce its first ever unclassified version of the “Unmanned Roadmap” about the underwater capabilities at the first of its kind a two conclave ‘Swavlamban 2022’ in New Delhi. The roadmap is expected to give the private industry a peek inside the navy’s requirement for underwater vehicles which are required on urgent basis for the Indian Navy due to China’s growing presence in the region. In his opening statement addressing media persons in New Delhi, Vice Chief of Naval Staff (VCNS) Vice Admiral SN Ghormade said “the unclassified version of the ‘Unmanned Roadmap’ will be unveiled during the event.”


The navy plans to have unmanned aerial vehicles on board the aircraft carrier, fighter jets and helicopters and is also exploring how a large, fixed wing Unmanned Aerial System could be used for AEW or for strike and Air-to-Air refueling missions in the future operations.


India acquiring Anti submarine warfare capability

The Indian Navy is expanding its fleet of anti-submarine warfare helicopters with a $904-million buy of 24 Sikorsky MH-60Rs, company officials said in May 2020. The new helicopters are set to supersede India’s current fleet of British Sea King ASW helos. The new helicopters could enter service by 2024, said Tom Kane, director of Sikorsky Naval Helicopters Programs. The Indian Romeos will carry specific satellite communications and datalinks unique to the Indian military, he said. The helicopters will be outfitted with the AN/AQS-22 Airborne Low-Frequency Sonar (ALFS) as well as the AN/APS-153(V) multi-mode radar, Kane said.


The Boeing P-8I aircraft, which is one of the most advanced maritime patrol aircraft in the world, allows the Indian navy to track China’s movements in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea., while also supporting anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare mission India is extensively using its P-8I aircraft, which are packed with radars and armed with deadly Harpoon Block-II missiles, MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, rockets and depth charges, to keep tabs on Chinese submarines in the IOR. India’s navy is considering adding to its fleet of P-8I maritime patrol aircraft, as the country shifts its military posture toward its southern approaches out of concern about Chinese naval activity. India’s Naval Chief Adm. Sunil Lanba told  that aerial-surveillance capability was an important part of navy operations, and the country’s Defense Ministry has said the P-8I is able to provide “a punitive response and maintaining a watch over India’s immediate and extended areas of interest.” Together with the surface navy and the submarine force, this could hope to track Chinese submarine movements.


INS Kavaratti, last of the 4 indigenously built Anti-Submarine Warfare stealth corvettes was commissioned in Oct 2020 in Indian Navy. Kavaratti has a state-of-the-art weapons and sensor suite capable of detecting and prosecuting submarines. In addition to its anti-submarine warfare capability, the ship also has a credible self defence capability and good endurance for long-range deployments.


Yet, as the navy notes with a twinge of regret, the four warships are far from being fully functional. All four were commissioned between 2014 and 2020 without two critical items of equipment—a towed array sonar and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). A towed array sonar is a device which, when trailing behind a warship, beyond the noise of its propellers, keeps an ear out for submerged submarines. A surface to air missile system protects the warship against threats from enemy aircraft, helicopters and anti-ship missiles. The ships are equipped only with two short-range AK-630 fast-firing guns which have a maximum range of four kilometres. The absence of SAMs means these corvettes will always have to operate under the air defence umbrella of other missile-armed warships.


The Indian Navy is set to acquire ‘submarine killer’ P-8I Poseidon from the US. The deployment of P-8I Poseidon in the Indian Ocean region can remarkably boost the capabilities of the Indian Navy which can detect, track and destroy hostile underwater drones and submarines. According to reports in HindustanTimes, the Indian Navy is all set to add additional 4 more ‘Submarine Killer’ P-8I Poseidon aircraft to its fleet. The American made Poseidon is designed for maritime patrol and submarine hunting and its addition comes at a time of increasing Chinese aggression in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).


The US has deployed the P-8Is to track its adversaries – China and Russia. The P-81 Poseidons have mastered in hunting Russian submarines. According to the Aviationist, in December 2016 Poseidons were engaged in hunting Oscar-class submarines in the Mediterranean and stopped short of eliminating the submarines. Experts call the P-8Is one of the strongest US assets for Naval warfare against China and Russia.


The P-8I Poseidon is integrated with the Harpoon Block II air-launched missiles and lightweight torpedoes, the reconnaissance craft – it can carry 129 sonobuoys to locate subs – turns into a deadly submarine killer that can also launch anti-ship missiles. Developed by Boeing, the P-8I is designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. It has a range of about 2,200 km and flies at a maximum speed of 490 knots, or 789 km per hour.


A number of key systems on the P-8I are designed to track submerged submarines. It has some of the most sophisticated anti-submarine-warfare technology available, including Raytheon and Telefonics systems that provide 360-degree radar coverage. The plane also has a magnetic anomaly detector, which searches for shifts in the earth’s magnetic field created by a submarine’s hull. Once a submarine is detected, the P8-I can either engage the submarine with weapons or use its datalink to pass on the exact location to other naval assets including friendly warships and submarines operating in the area. Indian Navy officers have told that the induction of the US-built P8-I anti-submarine warfare jets have been a game-changer for the force and a key asset in tracking Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean.


A rotary launcher system in the rear of the P-8I can dispense sonar buoys into the water. A recent upgrade allows P-8Is to employ new Multistatic Active Coherent buoys that generate multiple sonar pulses over time, allowing for greater endurance and search range.


The P-8I also has its own acoustic sensor and even a new hydrocarbon sensor that can “sniff” for fuel vapour from submarines. The Poseidon can carry five missiles, depth charges or torpedoes in a rotary launcher in the rear hull, and six more on underwing racks. The P-8I can use a special High Altitude Air Launch Accessory to transform its Mark 54 324-millimetre lightweight torpedoes into GPS-guided glide bombs that can be dropped from altitudes as high as thirty thousand feet.


Navy to soon get latest Sonar systems for anti-sub warfare

In July 2018, it was reported that India will get six low frequency Active Towed Array Sonar (ACTAS) systems, that will be fitted on the Kamorta-class corvettes, later this year from Germany. The system, which can detect enemy submarines, will give a fillip to India’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities. India had in 2017 signed a contract for the towed array sonar with German firm Atlas Elektronik. Under the deal, the first six systems would come from Germany and the rest will be manufactured in India. The towed array sonar provided by ATLAS permits observation of the sea space at ranges considerably above 60 kilometres, depending on the propagation conditions of the water.


This gives the sonar an operational range that by far exceeds that of radars and the weapons range of submarines. The system is, therefore, not only ideal for hunting submarines but also for the wide-area reconnaissance of surface combatants. “Indian ships currently use bow mounted sonar or hull mounted sonar which is less effective. ACTAS is the future,” the sources said. They added that the system is first being put on Kamorta-class anti-submarine corvettes. The project is destined to be rolled out to various classes of ships including Delhi, Talwar, Shivalik and Kolkata.


ACTAS provides excellent performance up to very long ranges, including over-the-horizon surveillance. Because of the good sound propagation of echoes and target noise in the low frequency band, the system is capable of operating below acoustical layers. Superior performance is ensured by the high source level, the high dynamic range and the large bandwidth. Various analysis tools are incorporated to support target classification. “Our sonars have the ability to detect, track and classify submarines, torpedoes, UUVs, anchored mines and even small surface combatants, such as high-speed patrol boats,”says company. The winch and handling system together with the towed body, tow cables and triplet array are designed for sonar operations in deep and shallow waters and allow for variable depth operation.


The sources said ATAS is especially vital in the Arabian Sea. Warships detect submarines with sonar – a “ping” of sound emitted into the water that reflects from submarines, just as radar bounces back from aircraft.  In Arabian Sea’s warm and shallow waters, the returning signal often gets lost, the sources said, adding that since ATAS is towed by a cable deep below the surface where submarines operate, detection is much higher.


The Advanced Towed Array Sonar (ATAS), designed and developed by the DRDO’s Kochi-based Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), is still undergoing development trials. The navy, meanwhile, has shortlisted Germany’s Atlas Elektronik for supplying nine ACTAS (Active Towed Array Sonar) low-frequency towed array sonars worth Rs 465 crore. The contract is expected to be signed by March 2021.


Upgraded Indian Attack Submarines to Receive US Anti-Ship Missiles

The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded U.S. defense company Boeing an $81 million contract modification to supply the Indian Navy (IN) with 22 submarine-launched Harpoon over-the-horizon anti-ship missiles under the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The Boeing will supply 12 UGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles and 10 UTM-84L Harpoon training missiles, all encapsulated in a container to enable submerged launch through a torpedo tube.


The arms package is estimated to have a total worth of around $200 million. The deal is expected to be completed in June 2018. India first purchased 24 AGM-84L Block II Harpoons in 2010 for the Indian Air Force. It bought an additional 21 Harpoons in 2012 at a cost of $200 million. India’s burgeoning fleet of Poseidon 8I Neptune advanced maritime patrol/anti-submarine warfare aircraft are armed with Harpoon missiles. The contract modification is part of a midlife upgrade of two Shishumar-class (Type 209/1500) diesel-electric attack submarines (SSK) in service with the Indian Navy. The upgrade is supposed to extend the submarines’ operational life by ten years.


Joint Exercises

The navies of US and India  are also carrying out Malabar exercise since 1992 in the Indian Ocean. Since Japan joined in 2007, it has alternated between the West Pacific and the Indian Ocean. Trilateral maritime exercise Malabar 2018 was conducted off the coast of Guam from June 7 through June 16. The exercise accomplished maritime interoperability training objectives among the three maritime forces, emphasizing high-end war fighting skills, maritime superiority, and power projection. This is the first year that Malabar was conducted in the Guam operation area. The two-phase exercise took place ashore in Guam and underway in the Philippine Sea. “These types of basic engagements will be the building blocks for an enduring Navy-to-Navy relationship that we hope will grow over time into a shared ASW capability,” one US official familiar with India-US military cooperation said, speaking on condition of anonymity.


In June 2021, India and the US  kicked off a two-day multi-domain wargame in the Indian Ocean involving an array of air defense platforms to further consolidate their operational synergy in the face of China’s increasing military presence in the region. The US has deployed its naval carrier strike group, led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, as well as a fleet of F-18 fighter jets and E-2C Hawkeye all-weather aircraft for the exercise, officials said.

The Indian assets at the exercise included Jaguar and Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets, IL-78 air-to-air refuelling tanker aircraft, AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft and warships Kochi and Teg. The Indian Navy has also deployed a fleet of P8I maritime surveillance aircraft and MiG 29K jets, apart from other platforms.


A carrier battle group or carrier strike group is a mega naval fleet comprising an aircraft carrier, accompanied by a large number of destroyers, frigates and other ships.  “The Indian naval warships, along with aircraft from the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force will be engaged in the joint multi-domain operations with the carrier strike group comprising Nimitz-class aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh,” Indian Navy’s spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said.


He said the two-day exercise aims to strengthen the bilateral relationship and cooperation by demonstrating the ability to integrate and coordinate comprehensively in maritime operations. Officials said the high-tempo exercise will include advanced air-defence drills, cross-deck helicopter operations and anti-submarine manoeuvres with an aim to hone the war-fighting skills and enhance interoperability between the two sides.



India US Collaboration expanded to Quad  of United States, India, Japan, and Australia,

India and the United States are in talks to help each other track submarines in the Indian Ocean, military officials say, a move that could further tighten defense ties between New Delhi and Washington as China steps up its undersea activities, as reported by Reuters.  New Delhi earlier had agreed to open up its military bases to the United States in exchange for access to weapons technology to help it narrow the gap with China. US is world leader in anti-submarine warfare technology and has long experience in tracking ultra-quiet Russian submarines.


The Indian Navy and the Royal Australian Navy completed a two-day mega exercise in the northeast of the Indian Ocean that featured a range of complex naval manoeuvres, anti-aircraft drills and helicopter operations. In June 2020, the two countries signed two landmark defence arrangements — Australia-India Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement and Defence Science and Technology Implementing Arrangement — under the new Comprehensive Strategic Partnership announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison. The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) allows militaries of the two countries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies besides facilitating scaling up of overall defence cooperation. India has signed similar agreements with the US, France, Singapore and Japan.


Both Australia and India would be able to use their submarines to block Chinese navy ships from entering the Indian Ocean or the South China Sea in the event of military conflict between China and the US. “Attack submarines can take a greater role than surface vessels, they could reconnoitre Chinese warships in the region or carry out stealth strikes if necessary,” “But they could also be used to block key channels in the Indian Ocean, or the Malacca Strait in the South China Sea.”


US involvement in the FOIP will change the ocean geopolitics and may be able to check on growing Chinese submarine patrols in the Indian Ocean,  because of its deficit in military power is clear, compared to the US  and like to restrict these these activities  to the East China Sea or South China Sea.


“From India’s perspective, India’s growing naval relationships in the Indian Ocean not only with the United States, but also with Japan and Australia, is essentially driven by a desire to balance China or otherwise delay the growth of its naval presence in the Indian Ocean.” Beijing currently implicitly accepts the predominant role of the United States in the Indian Ocean, perhaps reflecting a judgement that Washington will not interfere with China’s SLOCs, or perhaps the reality that China could not hope to challenge US naval predominance.


India can now deploy warships in Vietnam

Recently, India and Vietnam signed an agreement through which the two sides can now use military bases of each other to facilitate maintenance and supply of ships and aircrafts. Vietnam-India cooperation has been increased again, Vietnam can obtain more Indian military technology, and India can also make use of Vietnam to take control of the Pacific Ocean. India’s ambitions are extremely large, reaching out to the Pacific Ocean, and Vietnam will help India achieve its dream of becoming a world power.


The military cooperation between Vietnam and India actually started long time ago. Counting the cooperation between the two countries, in fact, from the very beginning, Vietnam was asking help from India. Regardless of the many accidents such as submarine explosions and fighter planes crashing in India, India’s military technology level is still much higher than Vietnam’s. Relatively speaking, India also has a good military industrial system, and basically has all the military weapons that it should have, but Vietnam does not have this power, and must import some military weapons and technologies from India to modernize its military.



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