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China increasing forays in Indian Ocean: Navy Chief
12/5/2022 12:34:16 AM


New Delhi, Dec 4: Depicting the highly-sensitive scenario in the Indian Ocean Region, Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar on Saturday said at any given time four to six Chinese warships are present in the region, indicating increasing forays by China. He, however, assured that the Indian Navy was keeping a close watch on the movement of these warships and would protect national interest.
While outlining the situation in the Indian Ocean Region and the Indo-Pacific, the Navy chief also said the Ukraine conflict has taught India to be self-reliant in Defence production. The nearly 10-month-old war has not impacted the Navy’s procurements.
Giving a low down on the increasing Chinese visibility in the strategically important Indian Ocean, Admiral Kumar said there are a lot of Chinese ships in the region including research vessels, warships and merchant ships. The Indian Navy is keeping a close watch, he said adding there are more than 60 other extra-regional forces also present in the ‘vital region.’ Elaborating upon the importance of the Indian Ocean, Kumar said large amount of trade transits through the sea lanes of the region besides energy supply of several nations. The Indian Navy keeps track of the ships and will not allow vessels inimical to the country’s interest, the Navy chief said.
Informing that Chinese fishing vessels operate all over the world including the Indian Ocean Region, Admiral Kumar said, “our job is to track them through robust surveillance and not allow them to fish in India’s exclusive economic zone.”
On the issue of the Quad formation, the Navy chief said it is not a military treaty. Like-minded countries having democratic traditions have come together to form the grouping, Admiral Kumar said. China has all along criticised the Quad grouping claiming it will lead to the militarisation of the Indo-Pacific Region. US, Japan, India and Australia are part of the Quad grouping and regularly hold the Malabar series of naval exercises in the Indo-Pacific.
Besides these operational issues, the Navy chief said the force is contemplating whether to go for indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) II or prefer a repeat order for the IAC I, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar while setting a timeline of 2047 for making his force 'Atmanirbhar' (self-reliant).
Kumar said the proposed procurement of a fleet of Predator drones from the US is under process and that the Navy is on course for a major capability enhancement to deal with myriad security challenges.
The Chief also said an exercise is underway in the force to shed the colonial past as "we strongly support the view that we have to get away from this "Ghulami ki mansikta" (slave mentality).
On modernisation of the Navy, he said assurances have been given to the government that the force will become 'Atmanirbhar' (self reliant) by 2047 and several measures are being initiated to meet the target.
"We are still working on what size it should be and what its capabilities should be. Right now we have put a hold on it because we have just commissioned INS Vikrant. We are quite happy with the ship. The way the ship performed in the trial," Admiral Kumar said when asked about the IAC II.
The Navy has been making a strong push for having the IAC-II having a displacement of 65,000 tonnes which was estimated to cost close to Rs 50,000 with the envisaged specifications.
India's first indigenously-built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant (IAC I) was commissioned in September. The aircraft carrier, with a displacement of 40,000 tonnes, was built at a cost of around Rs 23,000 crore.
The Navy Chief also said the Light Combat Aircraft (naval version) project will significantly help in developing the proposed next generation deck-based fighters.
"This is helping us in developing the next generation fighters to be operated from the deck which is something called the twin engine deck-based fighters," he said.
"We are preparing the draft cabinet note for that. We are confident that by 2026, we should have the prototype," he said.
The Navy Chief said production of the aircraft would start by 2032.
Asked about the procurement of the Predator drones, he said the case for it is under process.
The original proposal was to procure 30 MQ-9B Predator armed drones at a cost of over USD 3 billion to crank up India's surveillance apparatus along the frontier with China as well as in the Indian Ocean region.
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