Indian Navy Answer to Chinese Rapid Growing Navy

The Termendies speed at which China has been moving to build up itsnavy is causing concern in the  Japan, the United States—and  in India.

Recent decisions by China’s People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) haveleft China-watchers wondering where the Chinese juggernaut will stop.The latest decision to garner attention has been the apparent decisionby the Central Military Commission—China’s highest military planningbody—to give the green light to the building of two new nuclear-poweredaircraft carriers.

One aircraft carrier—the Kuznetsov class Varyag—is already beingrefitted after being taken off Russian hands. All three aircraftcarriers will be available to China by 2017 and will be responsible forpatrolling the South China Sea, Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, thussignaling to the world that China has indeed truly become a superpower.

So what is India doing to counter the growing Chinese naval might? TheChinese naval buildup is a matter of deep concern for Indian securitymanagers. However, New Delhi is busy developing an effective counter.Two aircraft carriers—the INS Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkov of Russia)and INS Vikrant—are under construction. In addition, the Indiangovernment in March 2009 approved Project 15B under whichnext-generation warships are in various stages of construction.Meanwhile, at least three Kolkata class destroyers are underconstruction under Project 15A.

But there’s more. The Indian Navy has also launched several newprojects to develop a beefed up fleet of stealth frigates. The leadvessels will be the Shivalik class of frigates—India’s first suchstealth vessels. The Sahyadri and Satpura are also in advanced stagesof construction, meaning the Indian government is well on its way toachieving its goal of maintaining a force of more than 140 warships.

Meanwhile, construction work on at least four nuclear submarines is infull swing, while the indigenous Arihant nuclear-powered submarine hasalready been launched (India plans to have at least 30 submarines by2030 (although this target may be tough to achieve with the submarinefleet expected to shrink to 16 by 2012 with the decommissioning of twoFoxtrot submarines).

Clearly, China has set off a naval race in the region. Japan and theUnited States, which are set to lag far behind in the Asia-Pacific,need to stand by India if the international community’s unfetteredaccess to the South China Sea, Western Pacific and Indian Ocean is tobe maintained.

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