Pragmatic | Slippages in the sea

Huge cost and time over-runs in India’s naval projects

Now that India has decided to go ahead with its plans for oil-exploration in the South China Sea, much against the Chinese wishes, the focus should be on the new projects of the Indian Navy. Here is an overview of four such projects (as reported by the Parliamentary Standing Committee in its latest report):

You can read the complete saga of Admiral Gorshkov aka INS Vikramaditya here. For all the other projects, this detailed reply furnished earlier this month by the Union Defence Minister in the Lok Sabha provides the details.

The state of Indian Navy’s submarines is indeed alarming.

Indian Navy has seen a steady decline in its submarine fleet lately and its ORBAT (order of battle) of submarines is down to 14 and some of them are on the verge of retirement. The existing ones include four Dr Gabler 1500 HDW/IKL designed submarines inducted between 1986 and 1994, and 10 Kilo-class double decked boats from Moscow, supplied between 1986 and 2000. The Indian Navy has acquired just two submarines since 1990. Of the ten Kilo-class submarines, the last, INS Sindhushastra (S 65), was commissioned in June 2000, as the fully converted submarine capable of firing Uran missiles. It has been assessed that the Indian Navy will have only five of its existing 10 Russian Kiloclass and four German HDW submarines by 2020. The older six Kilo- class submarines are over two decade’s old and reaching obsolescence.[Link]

Not that the state of aircraft careers with the Indian Navy is any better.

INS Viraat (29,000t light carrier, formerly HMS Hermes, last of the Centaur class) was scheduled to retire in 2009, but events forced India to extend that schedule with another refit, leaving the country without a carrier for almost a year. Even with the refit, Viraat nearing the limits of her mechanical life, even as shortages of flyable Sea Harrier fighters are creating issues of their own. Meanwhile, the delivery date for India’s locally-built 37,000t escort carrier project appears to be slipping to 2015 or so. This leaves India’s Navy with a serious scheduling problem, and no significant carrier force.[Link]

To be honest, this doesn’t inspire much confidence about taking the Chinese on in the high waters. But there is hope. As my fellow blogger, Nitin Pai explained in his Business Standard column today, it is geo-economics which provides India with many more opportunities in East Asia.

DISCLAIMER: This is an archived post from the Indian National Interest blogroll. Views expressed are those of the blogger's and do not represent The Takshashila Institution’s view.