The Indian Navy recently got INS VELA as the fourth submarine under Project- 75. Upgrading its submarine technology and naval capability has been the top priority for the Indian Navy in wake of the increased presence of Chinese vessels in the Indian Ocean Region.
The Government has dedicated the submarine ‘Vela’ to the nation after it was launched on May 6, 2019, and it has completed all sea trials and major harbour trials including weapon and sensor trials despite Covid restrictions. Three of these submarines are already in commission with the Indian Navy which includes INS Kalvari, INS Khanderi, INS Karanj.
The Indian Navy currently has a working stock of 12 submarines, in addition to which there are two nuclear capable submarines INS Arihant and INS Chakra. INS Arihant is an indigenously designed submarine with the help of Russia whereas INS Chakra has been taken on lease from Russia.
Project 75 was signed under the collaboration of France under which it includes the construction of six submarines of Scorpene design. These submarine technologies, research designed and are being developed at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) Mumbai, with assistance from M/s Naval Group.
This programme entails building six Scorpene Class/ Kalveri class attack submarines. Scorpene class technology is taken from France which is then aligned with the Indian Kalvari class of submarine.
Out of the 6 submarines which are being developed under the project three are functional (INS Kalvari,INS Karanj, and INS Khanderi). INS Vagsheer, is under construction, INS Vagir was launched last year, the sixth and the last in the project.
Following are the challenges to India’s Naval Build up.
India’s Bureaucratic Delay: India still faces bureaucratic bottlenecks and delays for eg the current deal of signing of P-75 took almost 10 years.
China’s Naval Prowess: China is aggressive in the Indian Ocean Region, It has developed a stock pile of 60 submarines (50 conventional & 10 nuclear. Indian presence under water still lacks teeth despite having geographic advantage of open seas in the Indian ocean region.
Cancellation of Deals: Unrelated corruption scandals like Agustawestland helicopters leads to cancelation of other defence deals like ATAS heavyweight torpedoes which are critical not only to their survivability, but also their overall offensive capability.
Less Attention to Indian Navy: Major part of the Indian budget is dedicated to the Army, with the air force being a distant second and the navy a poor third in the allocation.
Time consuming Development: Naval Capabilities require huge time and are highly capital intensive in nature, this slows down the modernisation plans further.
In order to counter the gap of mitigating China in the open seas, the above mentioned challenges have to be addressed. It is only then India can walk and talk on the lines of international grouping like QUAD and seek to fulfill its Indo-Pacific ambitions.