This is an IDF tribute to  a modest Cmde (Retd)CD Balaji who steered the Navy’s and then the IAF’s LCA MK1 programme that ACM Raha accepted to give LCA a boost on Balaji’s presentation not to the import lobby !

It gives joy to IDF that Balaji  was part of the batch that IDF was proud to train,  and three other batches  of the Technical branch in the Naval Academy in Cochin 1978-80.  Our motto was to see they did better than NDA and taught then the path ! Eight became Admirals a record, and Balaji blazed in the LCA programme and when IDF  met him at ADA, IDF  said, “ You have done well Balaji…sorry Navy did not make you an Admiral”, he replied, “Sir I am Scientist G”. I found out he was equivalent to a Vice Admiral. At Cochin in Feb this year I saluted Balaji. His  batch invited my wife and me as guests, for a four day Nostalgic recall of how they were trained and a Gala of tours and visits to schools and Allepey back waters, and the new NAVAC at Ezimala! They have done well after leaving Navy in India, and abroad. 

I had followed Balaji’s career and how he fitted REVLONS on Naval Two naval  LCAs and on congratulating him on Sunday he modestly accepted my congratulations and spoke of the team work and Chief Test Pilot.  There is more. We felicitated Mrs Balaji, who said, “ I am a teacher and feel proud of my students who do well, and remember me. I can imagine how you are feeling !    

As the Officer in Charge of Naval Academy, IDF  trained a number of Green Horns. Out of that, IDF  have not at that point of time, imaged that one would shine as Balji and another bunch of my wards  would become a part of the pioneers of the nuclear submarining of the Nation. This bunch of half a dozen with others I am referring  to, belong to the 1979 Aug to Dec and then the Dec 1979  to Apr 1980 batches of Technical graduates. (16th Integrated and then the 17th Integrated). They call themselves the Chakradharians as six served in INS  Chakra and assisted ATV after long training in Vladivostok. The story will figure with LCA and  Balaji’s in Navy Year Book-2020 at DEFEXPO 2020. But here is Balaji’s story.

 By Cmde CD Balaji (Retd), Distinguished Scientist

[Former Project Director LCA (Navy), Former Programme Director (CA) & Director ADA]

1.           The journey started in the 1990’s when the then Programme Director of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Dr. Kota Harinarayana and his team visited INS Hansa, the Indian Naval Air Station at Goa, to interact with the Indian Navy team comprising, at that time, of Cdr. Shekar Sinha, Lt.Cdr. CD Balaji and Lt.Cdr. Vijay Kandru. The team discussed the nuances of carrier borne aircraft operation. This was my first exposure to a design & development environment and I guess, the initiation of my journey with the Naval Version of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA Navy). At this time, the design of the Air Force Version of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was already in progress and initial build activities were also underway with the formal sanction being accorded in 1993.

2. Based on draft Naval Air Staff Requirements (Sep 1986) issued by Naval Head Quarters (NHQ), feasibility of making a Naval version with minimum structural changes to LCA was studied. A project on LCA Navy Project Definition Phase (PDP) was initiated.

3. The teams from ADA and HAL put together a study based on the Air Force Version and concluded that it would be feasible to develop a carrier borne aircraft, albeit with certain changes in order to operate with the concept of Ski-jump Take-off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR). At that time, it was envisaged that the exit Angle of Attack (AoA) would be limited to 24 deg and the approach AoA would be 17.5 deg in order to have a reduced approach speed to the ship. The take-off run was indicated to be about 200m with the ramp exit angle of 12 deg.

4. Based on the Project Definition and on my formal deputation to ADA in 2002, I started writing the CCS Note for the Full-Scale Engineering Development for a Naval Version of the Light Combat Aircraft (FSED LCA Navy). The CCS approval was accorded in End Mar 2003. The assumption at this time was that the changes to the Naval version would be in the order of 15 to 20% vis-à-vis the Air Force Version. Incidentally, the LCA AF had its maiden flight on 04 Jan 2001. The team was built up over the years from a lone ranger in the LCA Navy Programme Office at ADA in 2002 to 4 members by 2005.

5. The design and development activities were initiated in right earnest along with HAL and as the detailed design evolved, the extent of changes kept increasing and it started becoming a new aircraft, albeit with constraints imposed by commonality. We had a new front fuselage (Nose section), a strengthened centre fuselage to take the volume and loads of a longer and stronger landing gear and the arrester hook. We had a new leading-edge control surface, a new control law, etc.,              

6. In parallel to the design and development of the aircraft itself, there was a need to conceptualise and build various test facilities / rigs for proving the design prior to flight / validation. Some of the major facilities were the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) at Goa replicating the ski-jump launch and arrested recovery, the full scale aircraft structural test rig to load the aircraft to 1.5 times the flight loads, sub system test rigs for landing gear, arrester hook, LEVCON, control law, Avionics, Real time simulator, Telemetry facility at Goa, etc.,

7. The aircraft was rolled out in 2010, equivalent to the launch of the ship. This was witnessed by the then CNS, Admiral Nirmal Verma. The aircraft was then equipped, ground tested and had its maiden flight on 27 Apr 2012, exactly 9 years after the CCS approval. This is considered contemporary by any world standard, especially doing it for the first time in the country.

8. The first maiden ski-jump launch was in Dec 2014, followed by the arrested recovery (Taxi-in) in Aug 2018

9. I had the opportunity of flying the aircraft that we had designed and built 3 days prior to my demitting office on superannuation.

10. After successful arrested recovery at the Shore Based Test Facility at Goa, history was made when the second LCA Navy Prototype, NP2 was successfully recovered on board INS Vikramaditya, piloted by Cmde. JA Maolankar on 11 Jan 2020. This was followed by a successful maiden launch from the ship on 12 Jan 2020. These events deserve to be written in golden letters and the nation can be justifiably proud.

Recovery on Vikramaditya on 11 Jan 2020:

Launch from Vikramaditya on 12 Jan 2020:


The year 2019 saw an upward momentum of China with its risen economy to Number Two in the world, vigorously attempting to force a transition from an ‘unprecedentedly unipolar’ world which was led by USA as its policeman, especially in the Middle East for two decades after it sank the Soviet Union in the Cold War. It has left Middle East in a mess, and US sanctions on Iran and Russia has drawn them closer with China, to attempt a grouping as the year ends with a first ever Naval Exercise in the Gulf where a US carrier is operating. Iran showed up a submarine and Indian Navy must be tailing!

Today USA is looking at askance with Carapace, which is the noun for the protective shell on the back of some animals such as tortoises, and India Defence Forum refers to it as an attitude of arrogance by Republicans in USA and more recently President Trump of USA who thought he had a protective shell to do as he pleased, and even entered into a un winnable Trade War with China. Trump was hoping to throttle China’s technology rise unaware China had already absorbed, bought and poached major technologies like 5/6G, Robotics, AI and Space which are now maturing in China to threaten USA, also in the military sphere of Cyber. Future wars will be cyber and space based.

Ufa: Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar shakes hands with Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, during the plenary session of Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at UFA in Russia on Friday. PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist (PTI7_10_2015_000072B)

This situation and attitudes of USA has led to a weakening of NATO and a new 21st century ‘international balance’ characterized by multi-polarity and co-governance with China in International Affairs and Climate change. In the Far East it is evident as China grabbed the South China Sea without a challenge, despite currently the United States remains the world’s only military superpower. War as a means has receded, and China has emerged as a critical player in this rebalanced world of diminishing U.S. power and influence, with a show of latest weaponry on 1st October celebrating its 70th anniversary with a massive parade, and never seen before with DF-17 Hypersonic missiles, that USA and the world has noted. Russia has followed up with showing of its Avanguard missile and a new class of submarines, with a better foreign policy and Oil led economy !

India’s economy too arrived on the scene as PM Modi took reins, after PM Manmohan Singh inked a Nuclear Deal with USA. President Bush and Condelezza Rice in a Quid Pro Quo facilitated an approval by China in the Nuclear Suppliers Group(NSG) with China’s top leadership, with a favour to Pakistan. China cited its Grandfather NPT agreement for another nuclear plant to Pakistan which fact is still doubted in India. China and Pakistan are close partners.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi mesmerized the voters in 2013 with his wonderful idea of a new India sans corruption and return of stashed FFE. Modi’s appropriate local wardrobe for every occasion, growth from humble beginnings as a RSS Pracharak and powerful oratory. He was supported by Non Resident Indians(NRIs), especially in USA with the use of powerful messages on Social Media, especially by Gujararatis longing for a Gujarati leader after Gandhi and Sardar Patel. Modi arrived with a well deserved powerful showing at the hustings in 2014, and a more decisive one in 2019. PM Modi had and has, the full support of his party and compatriot Home Minister Amit Shah colleagues from Gujarat who tided the killings in the state in 2002 with the mixed BJP/RSS right wing cadres.

Slowly Hindu Nationalism got revived among the majority belt of India who revere Ram as the main Hindu character God who showed the path of righteousness. Ram is the central figure in the mythological Ramayana recited from ancient BC times and in Hinduism. It puts Vishnu the God that provides in the Hindu Triumvirate of Bramha The Creator, Vishnu the Giver and Shiva the Destroyer as Ram’s incarnation. BJP made Hindus feel they are main inheritors of India and RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat regularly makes it clear to all who live in India, they should follow Hindutva alongside their faith and demanded actions to please Hindus like one to make a Grand Ram Temple at the site of the Babri Masjid destroyed by BJP supporters in 1992. BJP put much into BJP’s Election Manifesto.

PM Modi told US Congress India had put away the baggage of the past with USA. The composition was working and undoubtedly India has moved on the world stage with PM Modi’s ‘one to one’ meetings with World Leaders and foreign policy maneuverings and a beefed up military that Pakistan tries to de-rail. China fears India’s rise can be threatening and a QUAD poses challenges especially to its trade in the Indian Ocean Region and India’s truck with USA with large military supplies. India has risen militarily and soon a CDS may harness the kinetic and deterrent power of India with jointness, to truly bare Indian Armed Forces capability.

Yet much energy and economy of BJP was spent by the Government on fulfilling the manifesto promises after galloping the economy to over 7.5 % with low Oil and Gas prices globally. Golden opportunities were available to amend Non Alignment policies with liberal economics permitted by Globalisation. Like in 1991-3, BJP could have opened the flood gates for Foreign Investments that the world looked to, and still does, but the Government lost its eye on the economy with RSS encouraging Swadeshi (Make do in India) so jobs did not expand in the manufacturing sector for a burgeoning youth bulge to indulge. Instead BJP Government with hard hold on Institutions tightened action on checking every business and defaulter payees. Good business lost confidence to take risks. Economy spluttered in 2019 and the spending for defence has consequently suffered most, and Government implemented no measures on fruitless spending best depicted by the galloping Rs 35,000 cr($ 5 billon) loss in Air India and growing, as oil and gas prices have soared.

China allowed its stashed wealth in Hong Kong into Shenzen and SEZs and capitalized on the opportunities presented by globalisation and the informatisation of a controlled society with Internet and AI and one party rule with technocrat leaders, to propel itself forward, economically, socially and technologically. China baited North Korea to take on President Trump and in the geopolitical context the security and defense implications for the region looked askance to China. ASEAN changed the contours of the Code of Conduct to maintain status quo in the South China Sea dispute with Laos and Cambodia backing away. Vietnam concentrated on its economy, to gain from Industries moving out of China with the US Trade War.

China sees a change in the types of conflicts for which it needs to prepare and in the domains in which it will be required to compete and potentially contest with nations and uses cheque book diplomacy in Africa. China has become a critical player in this rebalanced world of diminishing U.S. power and influence. In this geopolitical context there are security and defense implications for India and for the region.

India has targeted a challenging $ 5 trill economy by 2024 and will need immediately to grow at 8% to 10% at least to add to its $ 3 trillion GDP. China has again begun to grow at above 5% with some BRI investments and sale of defence goods paying off, and could add $ 750 bill a year to its $ 13 trillion GDP.

Hence India has to accept that with a slowing economy it has considerable limitations to what the Indian leadership can do.

So IDF feels India must employ Indian talent and business to deliver with a massive opening of its economy to private sector as it has FFE reserves, and let some un-actionable bygones be bygones and explain to RSS that is true SWADESHI ………..i.e Foreign investment and Technology with Indian labour and leave it to India’s brilliant managers to deliver. It is not too late to postpone other issues in the Manifesto, and such deep nationalism. There can be Unity in Diversity with the laws India already has, and IDF hopes the Election Commission and the fine Judiciary remain true to the ideals of the Constitution to guide India high through choppy waters.
HAPPY NEW YEAR ! Shan No Varuna.


This post tables C Raja Mohan’s bugle warning from Singapore
published in Indian Express’s ‘ADDA’ (Bastion) on 26 th Dec page 19
in small print.

Raja flies in and out of Singapore and briefs the world on the region. He watches Indo-Pacific more clearly from Singapore than in India, as almost each other day a Foreign Naval ship or VIP visits, while India’s politicians attention gets embroiled in races for power and bureaucracy in elections, and more recently with un-abating CAA and NRC and NPR disturbances, with the Indian media showing little interest in much else. EAM Jaishankar keeps busy flying around to pursue national interests with his persona.

In the recent protests, Prime Minister Abe could not come to visit with us and discuss our falling economy and a Maritime & Logistic Agreement so an Indian team has flown to Japan.

Raja Mohan has tabled an interesting answer to a simple question on Britain of yore, and China of today at IE’s Addda held with William Darympl; and Raja has rightly turned the spot light on the Indian Military to wake up on China. William is the best known Indophile after Mark Tully and his answers at the ADDA were interesting including a quip on Right Wing politicians and he mentioned Jar Bolsonaro of Brazil, Trump, Modi and Boris Johnson by name but not Erdogan ! And how difficult British Army found to tackle Afghanistan, hinting history repeats! Only one Brit Dr Boron returned from the Afghan war he said.

Delhi’s glitterati and so called Lutyen’s Delhi named such by the Government, were at the ADDA and so IDF cannot but help analyse Raja’s reply for those who may have missed it, as it is a subject suitable for Indian Strategists.

The incoming CDS if it be Gen Bipin Rawat may note Raja’s call and Indian Navy’s Chief Admiral Karambir Singh’s lament on Navy’s diminishing budget as Rawat remits office on 31st Dec and he is tipped to don a Purple Uniform as India’s first as CDS. Navy’s Suppliers are worried about payments it is reported and Naval experts on a drought of platforms and orders.

Q By Indian Express to C Raja. Mohan.
If Indians are still bashing the Brits, the Chinese seem poised to buy the Brits. Is there a way how both look at it differently ?
Answer by Raja.IDF Comments in bracket.
I think that is such a hugely important point. In this country(India) everyone is looking at Pakistan(and worrying of some action in POK as cross border terror is not reducing and Imran Khan speaks of war) and no one is noticing the massively greater thrust of this enormous Army (China’s military rise), which is 20 years ahead of you guys(Indians), in terms of aircrafts, tanks, communications, stealth bombers, owning Gwadar, Trincomallee (in Sri Lanka strategically placed). I did not know they bought Darwin(in Australia). They have just taken over Piraeus in Greece(China has crept in to take over the Entre Port for the past decade as a shipping hub for Chinese Shipping Lines feeding inter modal transport into Europe with Chinese exports). It is clearly the big rival (to India) and yet no one is looking over the Himalayas’.
Raja has not mentioned the powerful growing PLA(Navy) adding 18 ships and many aircraft a year, including an Aircraft Carrier with J-15 planes made in China and commissioned by President Xi Jinping last week named Shandong which sailed from Sanya in Hainan last week, the nearest Chinese port to the Malacca Straits and South China Sea through the Taiwan Straits. Is there a message in it for India. Sanya naval base has been beefed up with underwater submarine pens like that India is also making at Romboli in Project Varsha, South of congested Vishakhapatnam for basing nuclear and conventional submarines.

Raja’s reply has goaded IDF to add its own Chetavne (warning) to Indians on the security front. It is not to underestimate what the PLA(Navy) means to rising China in its ambitious plans in the Indo Pacific Indian Ocean Region(IOR) as China seems to winning the Great Maritime Game by its paws in Pakistan and Djibouti and is doing its first four day naval exercise with sanctioned Russia and Iranian Navy in the Gulf of Oman since 26th in joint drills amid ongoing friction in the economically important region between sanctioned Tehran and Russia and Washington. Four Russian Navy ships led by Variyag exercised with Indian Navy off Vishakpatnam in Ex Indira 10 days ago.
PLA(Navy) always has three warships in the area and berth in Djibouti where they have built berths even for merchant ships. The Gulf of Oman has been a focal point of geopolitical tensions in 2019 after two oil tankers were attacked in the straits in June and Iran detained a British oil tanker, the Stena Imperio for two months and Indian Navy patrols the area Gulf and has access to the port of Duqm and must be tailing the exercise as SOP.
Indian Navy needs to rise with a Code of Conduct for stability in the IOR with its friendly nations as the Net Security Provider(NSP), and offer steps of aid in SAGAR to fend off China supplying ships and submarines to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. India has begun begin to look to the QUAD more and signed LEMOA and COMCASA foundational security co-operation agreements with USA, that Sri Lanka also covets but they are classified.
It was over a decade ago, when US announced its ‘pivot policy to the East’ hoping China would heed UNCLOS 1982 laws in the South China Seas(SCS). China showed two hoots and challenged US Navy Ships trying to do Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS). Then, in what many have called the most advanced reclamation technology in the world, China converted rocks in SCS into islands to claim EEZ and fortified them.
The many Exercise Malabars opened USA’s eyes to rope in India and its capable small Navy into a QUAD to help contain China. But China’s economy fueled its military industries especially ship building and infrastructure and re-orgainsed its military and began to gallop. If a Chinaman gets good ROTI KAPADA MAKAN & good living conditions most Chinese will support the leadership signified by the benevolent Lion and they have a Peoples Party in absolute power and leaders are all technocrats to plan well and contain grievances.
Currently China is quoting what is happening in India in Global Times and China Daily to absolve themselves on human rights in double speak. China on a Sun Tzu principle uses its neighbour North Korea’s Kim Jung Un to show the Red Flag to USA with Nuclear and Missile power it acquired from Russia and China and some from Pakistan in exchange for Nodong missiles. USA seems to have lost steam and wishes to sign a trade deal to end the Trade war with China.
In India in 2017 late Finance Minister Arun Jaitley stated, “India is a bright spot in the world’s gloomy economy”, but those hopes were belied in the Defence Budget of 2018-19. The Finance Ministry allocated only Rs 295,511 crores ($42.7Bill) for Defence which is 1.4% of India’s GDP. No nation shows hidden nuclear military spending. The budget for pensions saw a sharp increase of 26% to Rs. 1,08,853.30 crore over the Budget Estimates 2017-18. Manpower costs with revised pay scales has seen escalation in the cost of ships and equipment and the services revenue budget is over spent so even ECHS suffers for a few hundred crores.
Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman this year allocated only Rs 3,05,296 crore ($44.6 billion) for Defence Expenditure. It was hoped a Supplementary Budget would ameliorate the challenge services face. This has not happened, and February is round the corner with elections in Delhi which may tell a different story.

The Navy needs bigger budgetary support. The cost of deliveries by Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and Shipyards has risen with delays with little MOD attention. Navy has always looked to affordability and Make in India and is suffering. The Rupee too has depreciated and the nation’s oil bill has risen. The Navy’s share of the Defence budget 2018-19 of Rs 40, 4195 crores was just 14%, compared to 22% for the Indian Air Force and 52% for the Army which the soft spoken Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh has lamented and needs attention. Thank you Raja ! Shan No Varuna.


Indian Armed Forces especially the Chiefs of Army(COAS), Navy(CNS) and
Air Force(CAS), the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff(CIDS) and MOD
bureaucrats must be biting nails, awaiting a formal announcement of
the name of India’s First Chief of Defence Staff(CDS) and the powers and
charisma he wields that will affect the working of MOD and inter pares
working of the Chiefs. Ceremonial planning may have begun.

CDS has been given no command functions. He will have a new
Department in MOD and be the Principal Adviser which was put with the
NSA as he headed a Chiefs Committee, now as a Cabinet Minister. History
needs to be heeded as access to PM in India as head of the Cabinet
matters as India runs on Cabinet Control. President is Commander-in-Chief
only in name. PM retains the powers.

Military is all about Command and Control and Navy is the only service
that ensures that proper C&C go together. If a ship from one command
goes to another Command it is CHOPPED BY SIGNAL to that command and
if it serves 3 months then the ACRs which is the power of Command, are
written by the new Command as that Command controls that ship and its
operations which are always heavy, with shortage of platforms. No Luxury
of a big Army. Economy brings in efficiency and MAKE DO IN INDIA.

Even today Air Defence, Control and Command of Attack Helicopters and
AD Missiles control and Army IAF IFF and decision making on these issues
rankles the Army and Air Force. AMPHIBIOUS operations command and
LSD choice is contested between Army, IAF and Navy. In the 1960s Navy
had to take over Command and Control of Maritime Aviation seeing the
Boobs IAF Liberators made in the 1965 war.

MR command and control despite Coloured Forms, was a bitter battle of
the late 1960s…….over Chiefs heads. Mid level officers lost friendships
snooping on each other writing up convincing files to MOD as both were
emotional. IDF saw it first hand as a Navigator. Indian Navy fighter pilots
like Arun Prakash successfully flew Transport Super Constellation Planes,
because they were commanded to do so. It surprised the IAF.

In Navy the senior most in a plane or helicopter is the Captain of the Plane
even if he/she be a Observer, that the IAF call Navigator. Soon a Lt Cdr
lady Observer officer with 2000 hours in a P8i looks to be the CAPTAIN OF
THE P8i commanding a Lt Cdr with more hours of flying ! It will work !.
In India another feature is the personality of the Chief matters.

In 1971 Gen Sam Manekshaw set a bench mark as the Chairman of Chiefs
of Staff Committee(COSC) to act like a CDS with direct access to the
Defence Minister and Prime Minister to instill confidence for the
impending war that followed in 1971. It took months to get the machinery
going for that victory, we are forgetting.

Luckily NSA according to IDF analyses with his hard work, background of
Intelligence and personality has instilled that confidence in Surgical Strikes
and Balakot. The Indian PMs with little background on wars always needs

a trusted adviser and let’s hope CDS can fulfill that role with personality as
he will be COSC too. Rawat has worked closely with NSA and PM. Its called
experience and EQ which matters.

On the other hand COAS Gen K Sundarji took over Op PAWAN (1987-91)
with his power of command of troops and side lined COSC Chairman and
CNS Adm RH Tahiliani with his direct access to RRM Arun Singh and PM
and RM Rajiv Gandhi and Foreign Secretary Venky from South and DRDO
head Dr Arunachallam. Its all in the book Warring Nuclear Navies.
Admairal T even called it ‘Sundar’s War’ as Navy and Air Force Operations
and Intelligence were not invited to the Army Ops Room when Sundarji
took military decisions, as he took over Command and Control even from
Gen Dipender Singh. The CDS will have to bring in Jointness and many
challenges will then ease in his big task of tri-sevice training and
procurement and operations.

Manekshaw almost became CDS but Air Chief ACM Pratap Lal had
objected (in his autobiography). Manekshaw’s quip in jest was that had
he been Chief in Pakistan, that nation may have won was not taken well
by Mrs Gandhi. Jest is not a liked action by Indian politicians who correct
by saying I have been wrongly quoted!

When Admiral Nanda who was visiting Naval Dockyard in Bombay was
told by Defence Secretary on phone that Manekshaw was going to be
CDS, he remarked, ‘make any one anything as long as you do not remove a
star from me’, or words to that effect he told a gathering when giving a
forward to IDF for the book A Nation and Its Navy at War(Lancers). Rest is
history. For the last 50 years as hundreds of articles have been written
about appointment of a CDS and Admiral Sushil Kumar almost became

CDS but for IAF objection. But here appended is the OFFCIAL RELEASE for
researchers to make independent analysis.

No Rules of Business have so far been specified for the new CDS
Department and the MOD remains intact in its original form, but CDS will
be the single point advisor to the RM and also stating that the Service
Chiefs will continue to remain advisors to the RM about their own Services
seem contradictory.

The CDS it says WILL Implement Five-Year Defence Capital Acquisition Plan
(DCAP), and Two-Year roll-on Annual Acquisition Plans (AAP), as a follow
up of Integrated Capability Development Plan (ICDP) but financial sanction
may remain with Defenc Secretary with lengthy procedures..

But if Gen Bipin Rawat CDS it is the best choice in seniority and
experience and IDF WISHES CDS the very best in 2020 and his 3 year
tenure meaning age 65. Shan No Varuna. 900 WORDS REST ONLY READ IF
New Delhi: Pausha 03, 1941
Tuesday, December 24, 2019
Government approves creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff in
the rank of four star General.In a landmark decision with tremendous
reform in higher defence management  in the country, the Government
has approved to create the post of Chief of Defence  Staff in the rank of a
four star General with salary and perquisites equivalent to a Service Chief.
The Chief of Defence Staff will also head the Department of Military
Affairs (DMA), to be (TO BE)  created within the Ministry of Defence
and function as its Secretary.

  1. This follows the announcement made by the Prime Minister on 15th
    August 2019
    in his address to the nation, inter alia, “India should not have a
    fragmented approach. Our entire military power will have to work in
    unison and move forward…..All the three (Services) should move
    simultaneously at the same pace. There should be good coordination and
    it should be relevant to the hope and aspirations of our people. It should
    be in line with the changing war and security environment with the
    world….. after formation of this post (CDS), all the three forces will get
    effective leadership at the top level.”
  2. The following areas will be dealt by the Department of Military Affairs
    headed by CDS:
    i) The Armed Forces of the Union, namely, the Army, the Navy and the Air
    ii) Integrated Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence comprising Army
    Headquarters, Naval Headquarters, Air Headquarters and Defence Staff
    iii) The Territorial Army.
    iv) Works relating to the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
    v) Procurement exclusive to the Services except capital acquisitions, as per
    prevalent rules and procedures.
  3. Apart from the above, the mandate of the Department of Military
    Affairs will include the following areas:
    i) Promoting jointness in procurement, training and staffing for the
    Services through joint planning and integration of their requirements.
    ii) Facilitation of restructuring of Military Commands for optimal
    utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including
    through establishment of joint/theatre commands.
    iii) Promoting use of indigenous equipment by the Services.
  4. The Chief of Defence Staff, apart from being the head of the
    Department of Military Affairs, will also be the Permanent Chairman of

the Chiefs of Staff Committee. He will act as the Principal Military Adviser
to Raksha Mantri on all tri-Services matters. The three Chiefs will continue
to advise RM on matters exclusively concerning their respective Services.
CDS will not exercise any military command, including over the three
Service Chiefs, so as to be able to provide impartial advice to the political

  1. As the Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee, CDS will
    perform the following functions:
    i) CDS will administer tri-services organisations. Tri-service
    agencies/organisations/commands related to Cyber and Space will be
    under the command of the CDS.
    ii) CDS will be member of Defence Acquisition Council chaired by Raksha
    Mantri and Defence Planning Committee chaired by NSA.
    iii) Function as the Military Adviser to the Nuclear Command Authority.
    iv) Bring about jointness in operation, logistics, transport, training,
    support services, communications, repairs and maintenance, etc of the
    three Services, within three years of the first CDS assuming office.
    v) Ensure optimal utilisation of infrastructure and rationalise it through
    jointness among the services.
    vi) Implement Five-Year Defence Capital Acquisition Plan (DCAP), and
    Two-Year roll-on Annual Acquisition Plans (AAP), as a follow up of
    Integrated Capability Development Plan (ICDP).
    vii) Assign inter-Services prioritisation to capital acquisition proposals
    based on the anticipated budget.
    viii) Bring about reforms in the functioning of three Services aimed at
    augmenting combat capabilities of the Armed Forces by reducing wasteful
  2. It is expected that this reform in the Higher Defence Management
    would enable the Armed Forces to implement coordinated defence
    doctrines and procedures and go a long way in fostering jointmanship
    among the three Services. The country would be benefitted by

coordinated action on greater jointmanship in training, logistics and
operations as well as for prioritisation of procurements.
New Delhi: Pausha 03, 1941
Tuesday, December 24, 2019
Government approves creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff in
the rank of four star General
In a landmark decision with tremendous reform in higher defence management
in the country, the Government has approved to create the post of Chief of Defence
Staff in the rank of a four star General with salary and perquisites equivalent to a
Service Chief. The Chief of Defence Staff will also head the Department of Military
Affairs (DMA), to be (TO BE) created within the Ministry of Defence
and function as its Secretary.

  1. This follows the announcement made by the Prime Minister on 15th August 2019
    , in his address to the nation, inter alia, “India should not have a fragmented approach. Our entire
    military power will have to work in unison and move forward…..All the three (Services) should move
    simultaneously at the same pace. There should be good coordination and it should be relevant to the

hope and aspirations of our people. It should be in line with the changing war and security environment
with the world….. after formation of this post (CDS), all the three forces will get effective leadership at
the top level.”

  1. The following areas will be dealt by the Department of Military Affairs headed by CDS:
    i) The Armed Forces of the Union, namely, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
    ii) Integrated Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence comprising Army Headquarters, Naval
    Headquarters, Air Headquarters and Defence Staff Headquarters.
    iii) The Territorial Army.
    iv) Works relating to the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
    v) Procurement exclusive to the Services except capital acquisitions, as per prevalent rules and
  2. Apart from the above, the mandate of the Department of Military Affairs will include the following
    i) Promoting jointness in procurement, training and staffing for the Services through joint planning and
    integration of their requirements.
    ii) Facilitation of restructuring of Military Commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing
    about jointness in operations, including through establishment of joint/theatre commands.
    iii) Promoting use of indigenous equipment by the Services.
  3. The Chief of Defence Staff, apart from being the head of the Department of Military Affairs, will also be
    the Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. He will act as the Principal Military Adviser to
    Raksha Mantri on all tri-Services matters. The three Chiefs will continue to advise RM on matters
    exclusively concerning their respective Services. CDS will not exercise any military command, including
    over the three Service Chiefs, so as to be able to provide impartial advice to the political leadership.
  4. As the Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee, CDS will perform the following functions:
    i) CDS will administer tri-services organisations. Tri-service agencies/organisations/commands related to
    Cyber and Space will be under the command of the CDS.
    ii) CDS will be member of Defence Acquisition Council chaired by Raksha Mantri and Defence Planning
    Committee chaired by NSA.
    iii) Function as the Military Adviser to the Nuclear Command Authority.

iv) Bring about jointness in operation, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications,
repairs and maintenance, etc of the three Services, within three years of the first CDS assuming office.
v) Ensure optimal utilisation of infrastructure and rationalise it through jointness among the services.
vi) Implement Five-Year Defence Capital Acquisition Plan (DCAP), and Two-Year roll-on Annual
Acquisition Plans (AAP), as a follow up of Integrated Capability Development Plan (ICDP).
vii) Assign inter-Services prioritisation to capital acquisition proposals based on the anticipated budget.
viii) Bring about reforms in the functioning of three Services aimed at augmenting combat capabilities of
the Armed Forces by reducing wasteful expenditure.

  1. It is expected that this reform in the Higher Defence Management would enable the Armed Forces to
    implement coordinated defence doctrines and procedures and go a long way in fostering jointmanship
    among the three Services. The country would be benefitted by coordinated action on greater
    jointmanship in training, logistics and operations as well as for prioritisation of procurements.


The metaphor is Geography makes History. India neglected its Khyber pass and the Himalayas, and allowed ingress from the seas by foreigners, which has scripted India’s history. Lessons need to be learnt as Geography has not changed, except a belligerent Pakistan has become India’s neighbour, and China is its best friend.

India dominates the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) with its Maritime Geography. Hence Indian Navy’s ships submarines and aircraft singly and more with an Air Sea Doctrine of co-operation between Naval platforms, IAF Su-30MKi’s operating from Carnicobar with Brahmos missiles in the Andamans with IL-78 Re-Fuellers, and IL -76 Phalcon AWACS and P8is can block maritime & oil trade to China which will affect the world’s economy and could lead to unrest in China. Navy awaits the lighter Brahmos NG for its MIg-29Ks and P8Is. That is why QUAD nations covet India for its capability and for its population as a virgin maiden market and wish to contain China which would not like India to grow fast, and land disputes fester including POK.

Pakistan’s geography dominates the Western Arabian Sea and oil rich Hormuz Gulf and if Pakistan possesses a powerful Navy or allows PLA Navy full access and bases and China helps to beef up the Pakistan Navy, and brings in the military power of 5G into Pakistan the two can challenge India with Cyber. China with Huawei is getting 5G next year as a transformation and even USA Korea and EU will take time as they lack the full technology. UK signed a $1.5 billion deal with Huawei. In summary that is what is happening in the IOR for India which will wait long for 5G.

Ipso facto without co-operation of India and to some extent Pakistan nothing can move easily in South Asia. So USA covets India’s partnership to contain China and Pakistan’s to help in Afghanistan, having usurped South China Sea and warns US by denying US Navy freedom of navigation through the islands, that China has created from rocks. Unlikely China will give up its claims in SCS and with its back to the wall will raise Taiwan’s large Ibu Ata –Taiping Island with its EEZ in UN which is currently not recognized, as Taiwan is not a member of the UN ! IDF’s theory is supported by facts.

Pakistan’s advantageous land geography connects it with land locked Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics(CAR) the arena for the Great Game made famous by Peter Hopkins, when Russia wanted to reach the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. The game is repeating this time with China already a maritime power with bases in the IOR ! This makes India’s truck with USA a fait accompli, is the message of this post.
But can USA be trusted ? It needs careful thought in agreements that India signs and must develop its technology, an industrial base and not be totally dependant on USA in the long run as India was on Soviet Union when it collapsed. PM Narendra Modi appreciates this by shedding the baggage of the past and signed COMCASA and LEMOA(text is classified) but most of his well thought out long term schemes have floundered with poor execution. Make in India is an example after Demonet and GST and as of writing the CAA on citizenship is making wrong waves. The BJP Government has lost its eye on the economy concentrating on gaining power. USA looks to India to sign space BECA foundation agreement, another force multiplier as Space and Cyber will decide who wins.
China had cleverly cut India out for their (Great) game in 1963 by secretly signing a border agreement with Pakistan and took over J&K’s Shaskgam Valley with connections to the Karakoram Pass. Article VII of the Agreement Entered into Force with the signature of the parties with a Protocol to the Agreement signed at Rawalpindi, March 26, 1965, stated, “The two Parties have agreed that after the settlement of the Kashmir dispute (which includes POK) between Pakistan and India, the sovereign authority concerned will re-open negotiations with the Government of the People’s Republic of China… so as to sign a Boundary Treaty to replace the present agreement.” The protocol and the large-scale maps appended to it have not been publicly released. This means even when India gets J&K, it will still have to discuss the Shaksgam border with China.
Since Independence, Pakistan played games with USA and signed SEATO CENTO Pacts and allowed US intelligence planes to use its airspace. Pakistan garnered military aid and funds, and President Gen Musharraf helped USA with its ‘Fight on Terror’ but made hay behind American backs with its truck with Taliban and the Haqqani net work. As China grew rich it inked a $ 56 billion CPEC.
India too had taken US help after India’s defeat at Chinese hands in 1962 with Exercise Shiksha which improved India’s air defence with radars and few know in 1962 IAF was worried about Chinese PLA(Air Force) as it had almost no air defence to direct its powerful Air Force. USA helped India set up Centre 22 in Chakrata to train Tibetans for covert actions and set up airfields in Charbatia in Orissa and Sirsawa that ARC uses for Intelligence. When India opted for Non Alignment, West dropped India as a Communist state. PM Modi has changed all that for India’s future with professing strategic autonomy, shedding the baggage of the past.
India tilted to USA after 9/11 attack in USA and RM Pranab Mukherjee signed a one page Defence Framework with USA’s Defsec Rumsfeld in 2014 in DC and PM Manmohan Singh signed the 123 Nuclear Agreement with President Bush who helped get China’s clearance for India in the Nuclear Supplier’s Group(NSG) with a quid pro quo for Pakistan’s additional nuclear Chashma plant. PM Modi signed the Strategic Partnership with USA in 2015 with President Obama when he came as the Chief Guest for the Republic Day. In 2017 US Congress National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2017, “recognised India’s status as a major defence partner of the United States.” Almost a non Nato ally ?
India has bought P8is, C130s, Globemasters, Apache and Chinook helicopters and soon 155mm guns already worth $ 16 billion and with FMC sales of 24 MH-60 Seahawk Sikorsky helicopters and 16 sets of BAE 127mm Guns for the Indian Navy possibly inked. Drones and 6 more P8i planes are on the anvil. India is now in the US grip for military support with its ally Israel, as it was with the Soviet Union. Russia accepts the fait accompli as long as India imports defence wares and is tied with nuclear technology as India’s third and fourth nuclear submarines are in building with Russian help.
Harsh Vardhan Shringla India’s Ambassador to USA recently stated, “ South Asia is one of the most sought after regions by the world’s sole superpower, the US ……….If one closely follows the current US policy towards South Asia, that too, specifically under President Trump, one would find Afghanistan and India continue to decide the fate of not only the entire region but also the future of Pakistan-US relationship…… The US seems to have decided to engage Pakistan via Afghanistan but the road ahead is slippery…….. and our militaries exercise regularly with each other,……India-US bilateral trade had been growing at 10 per cent year-on-year basis to reach USD 142 billion in 2018 and had also become more balanced”.
For India, Indo-Pacific is important which Includes the Indian Ocean up to West Asia as EAM Jaishankar affirmed in the Indian Ocean Dialogue and the debate is whether Indian Navy will get support or is US Navy’s closeness after so many Malabars and inter-operability enough. The Doklam incursion by China in 2017 shook PM Modi to act for Army and hurriedly buy Rafales for the IAF. India needs a stronger Navy and a clear Maritime Strategy and an Air-Sea Doctrine based on the above headlines especially as France a Riparian IOR nation with largest EEZ has offered its bases and UK too has supported the QUAD.
US steers India, and India determines Pakistan’s response as both nations are nuclear and may see a skirmish as COAS Gen Bipin Rawat tipped to become the CDS warned that India was ready to attack if Pakistan F-16s had hit 25 Div’s ammunition depot on 27th Feb post Balakot. It will need consultation with USA.
Recently Secretary Michael Pompeo & Defsec Mark Esper, met EAM Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and India’s Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh in DC for the two plus two meet and signed the Industrial Security Agreement to share technology with confidentiality. India had signed such long ago with Soviet Union. That precluded private Indian defence sector from manufacture of Russian equipment. This time private firms may benefit as US has no Public Sector Defence Companies. In 2 plus 2 both sides agreed to establish a new exchange program for legislators and launched new initiatives to help secure internships for innovators in each of our two countries, and support India’s Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. Ache Din Agaye on Foreign Policy but economy and Navy need thought. Shan No Varuna.


This IDF analysis is for interested readers like an Alfred Hitchcock thriller with a verbatim quote from Trident Trishul Blogspot to appreciate the air situation, and is based on Former Air Chief BS Dhanoa’s revelation at Litfest in Chandigarh of use of NCTR to meet Pakistan’s 24 planes in “SWIFT RETORT”.
Pakistan believes in SURPRISE as its Principle of War, it used in 1948, 1965 and in 1971 on 3rd Dec 1971 evening. PM Mrs Gandhi had engineered the Intelligence to make Pakistan start the war. FM Manekshaw had assured her India was ready for 4th.

In 1999 again, India was surprised in Kargil and Gen VP Malik revealed nuggets at the same Chandigarh Litfest. All this and covert Mukti Bahini operations in 1971 is in Warring Nuclear Navies, but Gen Jacob destroyed the data of 60,000 tons of shipping Navy and Mukhti Bahini divers destroyed before the 1971 war to avoid paying Insurance and P&I compensations ! India denied its hand in any Mukhti action and did not even take back Clearance Diver Lt Das’s body when offered by Pakistan. PM Hassina in Delhi decorated his parents at Manekshaw centre in presence of PM Modi.

BJP brilliantly used surprise for Surgical Strike and Balakot and so many feel that Pakistan’s nuclear threat is a bluff but India should be ready in case Pakistan retorts, is the massage of this message.
IDF looks forward to a CDS who should read how FM Manekshaw acted as a CDS in 1971 to steer the three services to victory ! CDS must encourage Government must play war games on what may happen if it wants to be ready for what may happen. China wishes to raise Kashmir Issue again in UN and is a factor in the Indo Pacific brewing tension with interests worth billions in Pakistan and worried about POK’s future.

Prasun Sengupta of Trishul published part of his post on Balakot in June 2019 issue(FORCE), and now adds “Without understanding how NCTR works, there will continue to be needless & unwarranted speculation on the roles & tactics of the IAF’s airborne Mirage-2000Ns & Su-30MKIs on the morning of February 27, 2019”.
IDF and Wikipedia describes all-passive non-cooperative target recognition (NCTR) which PAF’s frontline MRCAs did not possess as one that enables a fighter to SILENTLY (radar off) approach always operating with a wingman. Even when India sent relief to Tamils in Op Poolmalia in 1987 to Sri Lanka in IL-76s the IAF’s Mirages accompanied them.

The Air Situational Awareness (Navy calls it Maritime Domain Awareness MDA) to the lead fighter is fed from the AWACS or LINK the winger passes from his radar about the range and bearing of the opposing aircraft whose on-board Multi Mode Radar is operating in the ‘track-while-scan mode” readying to fire a BVRAAM at the winger further away. (SOP in Navy).
NCTR mode enables an aircraft passively lock-on to its opponent and fire BVRAAMs like the R-77 or even IIR-guided SRAAMs like the R-73E while at the same time employing its Israel supplied EL/L-8222 ASPJ activated for completely neutralising hostile BVRAAMs like the AIM-120 AMRAAM. The hostile MRCA, on the other hand, remains unaware of the approaching BVRAAM or SRAAM (until it is too late to take evasive action.)
The engagements on 27th saw the successful usage of both beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAM) and short-range air-to-air missiles (SRAAM). Both opposing air forces engaged one another not only with their respective multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) fleets, but also with combat-support platforms like airborne early warning & control (AEW & CS) aircraft.
The IAF had an appreciable head-start over the PAF when in the 1980s it had procured Vympel R-23R and Matra Super 530D (Navy too) missiles along with its MiG-23MF and Mirage-2000H/TH combat aircraft…PAF could procure its first BVRAAMs—the Raytheon-built AIM-120C-5 AMRAAMs—only in the previous decade.
The IAF’s successful employment (By Wing Cdr Abhinandan) of the Vympel R-73E SRAAM with the help of the Sura-1 helmet-mounted display system (HMDS) once again proved that even third-generation upgraded legacy-MRCAs—can be lethal tools in the hands of experienced Indian air warriors.
(As an IAF trained controller IDF vouches that with the tools it has and proper Command and Control by Higher Leadership Indian Armed Forces are a force to reckon with but needs Air Sea and Air Land Doctrines of mutual support.)
Yet on 27th February Abhinandan’s MiG-21 Bison (armed with two Vympel R-77/RVV-AE BVRAAMs and two R-73E SRAAMs) of the IAF’s 1 Wing’s No.51 ‘Sword Arms’ Sqn operating out of Avantipora air base in J & K was lost to enemy fire. So what went wrong?
(In the ‘Furball’ meaning surprised by an animal)……….Pakistan surprised India as Pak Air and Army Chief got clearance from PM Imran Khan who consulted USA and China and decided to retort without crossing the LOC.)
At around 9:30am on 27 February, IAF flight controllers noticed a large package of 24 PAF combat aircraft taking off in 15 minutes from three air bases. These included at least 12 F-16C/Ds. They approached the Line of Control (LoC), into two formations, with airborne battle management cues being provided by a Saab 2000 AEW & CS platform. The formations included four Mirage-VPAs, four Mirage-IIIEAs and four JF-17s headed for the Sundarbani-Rajouri-Naushera sub-sectors; and eight F-16s headed for the Rajouri-Mendhar sub-sector and Nangi Tekri in Karmara. Pitted against them were two of the IAF’s upgraded Mirage-2000INs and four MiG-21 Bisons flying north of the Pir Panjal Range, and four Su-30MKIs to the south of the Range. The main PAF strike force comprised four F-16C/Ds armed with DENEL Dynamics-supplied Raptor-IID TV-guided gliding munitions, while the remaining four F-16C/Ds and four JF-17s were tasked with the protection of the strike package while remaining in a rear area over the Mangla Dam near the PoK-Pakistan Punjab border. (Pakistan feared war but wanted to avoid it is IDF analysis).
PAF selected the Indian Army posts at Bhimber Gali (elevation of 5,479 feet), Krishna Ghati Top (Nangi Tekri) at a height of 4,665 feet, Potha at an elevation of 4,073 feet, and an ammunition storage area in Narian (belonging to the 25 Infantry Division of the Indian Army) at an elevation of 2,000 feet. These targets, falling in India’s Rajouri sector, were deliberately selected for the sake of establishing Pakistan’s ‘moral ascendancy’ along this portion of the LoC—given the fact that it is from these areas that the Indian Army dominates its opposing adversary’s Battal sector, which is located at lower altitudes.
However, when the intruding PAF F-16s gained altitude for crossing into the areas southeast of the Pir Panjal Range towards their designated land targets in Jammu at altitudes varying from 5,000 feet to 10,000 feet in order to launch the Raptor-IIDs, they were detected by the IAF’s A-50I PHALCON by 10.25am, which in turn vectored the airborne MiG-21 Bisons towards their respective intercept courses.
Since these MiG-21 Bisons climbed in the shadow of the Pir Panjal Range, the PAF’s Saab 2000 AEW & CS platform failed to detect them. This proved to be a “blessing for the IAF”, since the PAF’s attacking F-16C/Ds were taken aback and were forced to launch their Raptor-IIDs in great hurry (and missed Army targets).
The Su-30MKIs carrying EL/L-8222 airborne self-protection jammer (ASPJ) pods were kept on standby further down south to engage the four PAF F-16s that were still orbiting 162km further to the west. It subsequently became evident that what the PAF wanted was to drive home a ‘point’ about the PAF demonstrating its will, means and capability to stage a ‘retaliatory sneak attack’ inside Indian territory.
By most accounts, cruising at 15,000 feet altitude, the MiG-21 Bis of Wing Commander Abhinandan engaged a PAF F-16D of 19 ‘Sherdils’ Sqn that had approached the Indian Army’s ammunition depot at Narian in Southern Jammu and was exiting that location at an altitude of 9,000 feet. While the MiG-21 Bison made a shallow dive to get within R-73E firing range of the F-16, the Paki pilot was alerted by his wingman about the impending attack and so he took an evasive measure by going into a steep climb to about 26,000 feet. By this time Wg Cdr Abhinandan had skillfully manoeuvred the powerful MiG-21 Bison’s engine behind the fleeing F-16 and positioned himself at a 60-degree angle of elevation below the F-16. (He and was in no mood to abort even if ordered). He fired an R-73E, which effortlessly struck the nose-section of the F-16D.
However, even as the R-73E was closing on to its target, the wingman of the F-16 (Wing Commander Nauman Ali Khan) moved in from behind and fired an AIM-120C-5 AMRAAM from a distance of less than 12km, hitting the centre-fuselage of the MiG-21 Bison. A second AIM-120C-5 that was probably fired against Wg Cdr Abhinandan’s wingman ( where was he —had he gotten separated from him) failed to hit its target and consequently it slammed into Mamankote Mallas village, Reasi, and caused an explosion that spread splinters and missile parts within a radius of 100 metres.
The entire aerial engagement lasted for some 90 seconds and ended at around 10:45am. The PAF F-16D was shot down over the Jhangar area of Khuiratta inside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK), opposite the Lam Valley. Abhinandan went down near Horra’n Kotla village, located 7km west of the LoC in PoK’s Bhimber district.
(IDF salutes the Indian Air Force with a BZ as luck helped the Paki wing man IAF needs to read Trishul Blogspot IDF did and correct the analysis done by joining the dots and NCTR.) Shan No Varuna.)



The Song of the Missile Boats, 1971 by Author.

“Now take courage my lads, ’tis to Karachi we steer
To add something more to this wonderful 1971 year,
’Tis to honour I call you, as free Indians, not slaves
For who are so free as the sons of Bharat’s waves.
Come, cheer up my lads, ’tis to Karachi we steer
The prize clearer than all, to the Indian’s dear,
To honour your country, and your Navy,
Be always ready sailorman, and stand steady.
Come load up my lads, ’tis to targets we steer
Missiles we’ll fire, build on the crest of none we fear,
Again and again let’s repair to Karachi my hands,
And yet retire to Mother India, our beloved land”.

Midnight 3rd Dec 1971 war was declared and CNS Nanda was expecrting the Fleet with one missile boat in tow to strike KARACHI. On 4th Dec morning a disappointed CNS Nanda appreciating the Western Fleet had turned away on sighting a civil plane towards Makran coasr with radio silence reviewed plans and ordered Op Trident to C-in-C Vadm SN Kohli.

The three high points of the 1971 ‘war’ was the Navy’s landmark missile attack on Karachi by the Osa class missile boats on the night of 4th December in Op Trident and 8th December in Op Python. On 4TH Dec morning 4 IAF Type 56-A Hunters of the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) under Wing Cdr Don Conquest from Jamnagar attacked the Kemari oil tanks in the ‘opening bell’ of the war.

The previous evening when war broke out, the Hunters’ OCU experienced pilots had no task, but Conquest aware the Navy wanted Karachi attacked, requested permission to set the Kemari oil tanks on fire. The four Hunters’ larger drop tanks allowed them 5 minutes on task flying a high-low-high mission. The luck and boldness that favoured Don Conquest that first fateful day, also ensured the Navy’s Killer Boats sank ships off Karachi on 4 and 8 December nights and on 8 again hit the Kemari oil tanks, just after fires were doused.

The low silhouette of the boats ensured radars were unable to locate them till quite close. This ensured Pakistan’s Drig Road and other American supplied radars at Badin did not detect them operating 30 miles from the Karachi coast, and for quite some time the Pakistan Navy with headquarters at Karachi under Admiral Muzaffar Hasan assumed it was an air attack as Karachi had witnessed on 4th morning. Hasan was retired on 22 December 1971.

“Pakistan initiated the 1971 war on 3 December. On the 4th morning, a chance IAF Hunter attack set Kemari oil tanks on fire, across the harbour from the Pakistan Naval Academy PNS Rahbar, where the Naval Band played on at the Passing Out Parade. The young officers were enthused to join the war and serve Pakistan, the ‘Land of the Pure’.” – From the book “25 Missile Boat Squadron”.

The Indian Navy’s stars of the 1971 war were the recently acquired Osa missile boats which offered minimum radar targets, had speeds over 30 knots with 4 SS-N-2 (P-15) Styx missiles with 40km range flying at 9 mach, fitted with ingenious towing necklaces. With months of arduous work-ups and practice missile firings in Vladivostok’s harsh climate, the crews exhibited professionalism and camaraderie to the Soviet Navy. Captains and ships’ companies from the 25th Missile Squadron and technical personnel prepared the volatile liquid fuel Styx oxidizer rocket engines meticulously to sink Pakistani targets off Karachi over 30 km away by November. The boats powerful I band Rangout radars in high power mode performed brilliantly to track targets for the kill in Op Trident on 4 and in Op Python on 8 December nights.
IAF Hunters’ Serependitious Attack on Karachi

By sheer happenstance and luck which favours the brave, four
IAF Hunter aircraft of the IAF’s Operational Conversion Unit (OCU)
carried out a daring mission early on 4 December 1971 by setting
Karachi’s Kemari oil tanks ablaze, though credit was inadvertently
claimed by the Indian Navy for many years.

At dusk on 3 December, the Pakistan Air Force struck seven IAF airfields. The IAF could respond only next morning, not having night fighting capabilities.
At midnight Mrs. Indira Gandhi broadcasted, “The war on Bangladesh has become war on India. We have no option but to put our country on war footing.”

During the planning, CNS Nanda had asked Air Chief Lal for a strike on Karachi, but Air HQ staff, unaware how crucial it was for the Navy fighting its first war, opined that Karachi was out of range for the Hunters, and only after the Badin (Pakistan had set up dummy radars too) and Drig Road American supplied radars were neutralized by the MiG-21s from Jamnagar, was a mission to Karachi feasible. The Navy got low priority.

Yet, in the late hours of 3 December, when the Jamnagar air base was pitch dark and wives re-located to the city, the OCU head, Wing Commander Don Conquest learnt they, the ‘Top Guns’, had no assigned role for the morning. Conquest approached his OC, the legendary Air Commodore Pete Wilson, and told him that his boys were now capable of a strike on Karachi, as they had
recently inducted Hunters Type 56A and 235 gallon drop tanks, “What will our wives and children who were shunted from the base’s Bhangi Barracks to Jamnagar town say? That we stayed on ground?”

Pete Wilson, busy readying MiG-21s to hit Badin and Drig Road
at first light, let Conquest plan his mission. Air HQ Ops Room cleared it with, “ Do what you want. We are too busy here”. Early on the 4th morning, four OCU “Top Guns” took off for “target Karachi” with road maps in a formation take off. The Hunters could not carry rockets. Two 235 gallon drop tanks were slung on the pods, to enable a high-low-high sortie with five minutes over
target, with 20mm cannons. Strike leader Conquest (now in Australia), Sqn Ldr (later Gp Capt) S.N. Medhekar his winger in Pune, Flt Lt. (later AVM) P.K. Mukherjee in Kolkata and Flt Lt. (later Wing Cdr) S.K. Gupta recall that mission.

Don Conquest recounts, “As per SOP (standard operating procedure) we dipped our noses off Karachi and fired a few rounds into the sea to test our guns. Mukherjee’s guns had jammed, so three pressed on at 500 ft along the coast. As we neared the city, the large oil tanks loomed out of the skyline, their silver paint shining in the rising sun. We made two runs without difficulty and after the first, there were huge balls of fire and volumes of smoke coming out of the storage. The smoke haze made flying dangerous; we
aborted the other runs and flew back. Some ships opened ack ack fire.” Before Conquest could file reports, he was ordered to fly his OCU to Jaisalmer. Indian Army tanks were under siege.

Air HQ was not made aware of the damage caused at Karachi till much
Later as IAF declares KILL after analyzing the films.. This is common in the “fog of war”, so well described by Churchill in his Nobel Prize Volumes on the Second World War. The sight of balls of fire seen from the Naval Academy Karachi close by is still etched in the memory of the Pakistani, UAE and Saudi officers who took part in a parade on that fateful morning.

RADM Khalid Wasay recalls, “I was a lieutenant at the Navac. On 4 December, we were to hold a Passing out Parade and at about 0830 (PST) three aircraft appeared overhead and the next thing we heard was explosions. Later smoke billowed from the oil tanks.

Four days later, when we had doused the fires the tanks were hit
again.” Baluch Engineer Cdr (late) Iftikar Ahmed [known to the
author], recalled how the IAF planes flew over the Naval Dockyard
at Karachi. He knelt and thanked ‘Allah’ that they did not attack the
Daphne submarine he was supervising to send to sea.
Rear Admiral K.M. Alam, Captain of the Pakistan Naval Academy, in Rear Admiral Zahir Shah’s book, says: “When the war with India spread to West Pakistan on 4 December, an air attack on Karachi was expected. But that was the very morning the Passing out Parade was scheduled in PNS Rahbar. Commander Riaz, my XO and I, both had our fingers crossed. The sirens started wailing and an air raid followed. The ack ack guns opened up,
including those around the Academy. During the attack one of the oil tanks in nearby Kemari was hit and burst into flames with a big whoosh! The Academy shook, some windowpanes were smashed.

Everyone wondered how there could be a parade. Rear Admiral Rashid Ahmad, called to say he would take the salute. I assembled the cadets and ordered that even if Manora came under attack, they were to carry out the drill. There were Saudi and Gulf naval cadets. Avoiding the conflagration at Kemari — and the ceremonial boat ride — Admiral Rashid took the circuitous road to Manora. The air raid warning was on, when he arrived. With a look at the empty sky, and prayers in our hearts, the parade began. The country
was in the midst of a war; oil tanks across the harbour were burning fiercely, but the band played on.”

Why did the IAF not make much of this amazing achievement right then? The simple answer is that by 5 December Navy’s C-in-C at Mumbai, Vice Admiral S.N. Kohli received the code word “Angar,” signifying success of the killer boats in Op Trident, and BBC radio reported oil tanks at Karachi were on fire, nothing more. BBC on 4th afternoon reported Kemari tanks on fire but India heard it only on 5th morning !

Kohli announced to the media that the “Osa Killers” had sunk three ships later identified as the PNS Khaibar, PNS Muhafiz and MV Venus Challenger (which disappeared for 2 days). The strike on the oil tanks, was claimed as one last missile was fired towards the shore. Commodore Vijay Jerath’s book ‘25 Missile Squadron’, clarifies that the last missile fired landwards by Nipat did not have a clear line of sight and run towards the tanks and would have had
to fly over the city. The Styx missile radar gate opens and locks on and dives on to the first strong radar echo, and a land echo is strong. [Newer missiles in the Indian Navy like the Klub and
BrahMos are more discerning, with better radars and GPS homing
and finger-printing for land targets].

Describing the fate of the land bound missile, the Officer in
Tactical Command (OTC) of Op Trident, Captain Gopal Rao in
INS Kiltan, saw it ditching into the beach. He wrote so in USNIPs
and is quoted in Triumph to Transition. When the Hunter attack
came to the notice of late Air Chief P.C. Lal by P.K. Mukherjee, Lal
magnanimously said, “Let the Navy take the credit. War is on.”
Don Conquest is content that he was awarded the Vir Chakra for
his bravery in the Battle of Longewala. The battle was dramatised
in a controversial film, Border by J.P. Datta, with the Hunters given
a reduced role.

Op Trident 4 December and Op Python 8 December
On 4th evening INS Kiltan (OTC Cdr Gopal Rao) and INS Katchall (Cdr K.N. Zadu) were ordered to R/V with INS Nipat (CO Lt. Cdr B.N. Kavina Cdr Babru Yadav, K-25 embarked), INS Nirghat (Lt. Cdr I.J. Sharma), and INS Veer (Lt. Cdr O.P. Mehta). They fueled at Porbunder from Poshak to execute Op Trident,
under shore control. The Fleet, to Nanda’s disappointment, had
failed to hit Karachi with INS Vinash. Electrical officer Lt. Promod
Bhasin (later Vice Admiral as Chief of Material and builder of India’s
first nuclear submarine INS Arihant) USSR trained, prepared the
missiles, which performed superbly. He was the youngest officer
to be awarded a VSM.

Pakistani officers in the control room did not realize it was a seaborne attack. Assuming it was an air attack, like that fateful morning, the confused Pak defences were utterly in disarray to arrange seaward defence. Searchlights got turned on, and star shells fired. The missile boats attacked without retaliation, and retired with 5 of 12 missiles still intact. CNS Muzaffar Hassan at NHQ in
Karachi asked Air HQ at Rawalpindi for a strike on the retiring boats. The answer: “Cannot spare a sortie!”

Commander B.B. Yadav, who commanded Operation Trident was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra. Lieutenant Commander B.N.Kavina (Nipat), Petty Officer M.O. Thomachan, Petty Officer R.N.Sharma and L.K. Chakravarty and Lieutenant Commanders Inderjit Sharma (Nirghat) and O P Mehta (Veer) received the Vir Chakra for their roles in Operation Trident. Lieutenant Commander Vijai Jerath, was awarded the Vir Chakra for Operation Python.

It was luck, and the ingenuity of the young naval constructors’ creativity. The Nylon necklace was the starting point to plan the missile attack on Karachi in 1971. Since then naval architects and young officers have made many innovations to modernise a rising Navy.

The Indian
Commanders were decorated for their heroic foray, with 2 MVCs
(Rao and Yadav) and 3 VrCs.
Keesing’s Archives says: “In the biggest naval battle since the
Second World War, an Indian Task Force sank the Pakistani
destroyers PNS Khaibar (formerly HMS Cadiz) and Shah Jahan
(formerly HMS Charity) and two mine sweepers off Karachi in the
early hours of 5 December and subsequently shelled naval
installations in the port”. In fact, PNS Khaibar D-163 under Capt
Nasseem Mallik/ Lt Cdr Fazal Ahmed sank with 8 officers and 213
sailors and minesweeper PNS Muhafiz M-163 sank under Lt Arshad
Aleem with 32 sailors at 2235, and MV Venus Challenger
floundered in minutes. The credit of rescue work goes to German
built patrol boat PNS Sadaquat, gifted by Saudi Arabian Navy.
The Times of India of 6 December wrote, “An Indian Naval
Task Force inflicted a crippling blow on the Pakistani Navy, sinking
two destroyers and damaging another in a surprise attack on Karachi.
Units of the task force then went as close as 25 kilometers off
Karachi harbour and shelled several strategic installations”. The
‘fog of war’ was evident. What was unreported: Veer suffered an
engine problem and limped back when Cdr BB Yadav K25 asked
the missile boats to retire. INS Kiltan did not receive the message
and pelted on to Karachi. Veer nearly fired a missile on her seeing
her so close to Karachi. Engineer officer Lt. Puri on Veer, heroically
put boothas (cloth pieces) on a hot leaking oil pipe to stop the leak
with bare hands, allowing Veer to get away from Karachi.

On 8 December at 2230, Lt. Cdr Vijay Jerath [a shipmate of the
author on training ship Tir], known as ‘Jerry’ was let loose off
Karachi in INS Vinash in Op Python by Capt Curly Nair( F15) on
INS Trishul (Nair having taken over a worked up ship from Capt
Ram Tahiliani) with INS Talwar ( Cdr SS Kumar was our XO on
Tir). Jerath executed a magnificent attack and fired all four missiles
in succession at four different targets at Manora anchorage.
In the words of the Pakistan Navy, “The first missile flew over
the ships at anchorage, crossed Manora island and crashed into
the Kemari oil farm… The missile was reported to COMKAR who
passed it on to Air Defence Korangi. There was a huge explosion
and flames shot up high. The fire caused by the air attack on 4
December had been put out only a day earlier after concerted
efforts… The British owned MV Harmattan sank immediately and
SS Gulf Star flying a Panama flag and tanker PNS Dacca (Capt
SQ Raza Sitarra-I Jurrat) were damaged, as they took one missile
each around 2245”.


Chapter 10
L’audace, L’audace, Toujours de L’audace.
(Boldness, Boldness, Always Boldness) – Napoleon

India started acquiring Soviet ships and submarines in 1965 when Britain stopped its line of credit and refused funding to build Oberon class subs. Mountbatten observed “I managed more favourable terms for the construction of a British submarine but it all took so long that this transaction fell through”. Pakistan had acquired USS Diablo (PNS Ghazi sunk in 1971 off Visakhapatnam), and the Indian Navy was concerned. In September 1965, an Indian delegation in Moscow agreed to acquire 4 Foxtrot submarines (Kalvari class), 5 Petya anti submarine vessels (Kamorta Class), a depot ship (Amba).

Defence Minister Y B Chavan had seen the Osa class missile boats offered by Admiral Gorshkov operating in the Black Seas for port protection. Their short range and seaworthiness were dissuading, though China Indonesia and Egypt had acquired them. The submarine support ship Amba was acquired for Submarine support and the vital security of Andaman & Nicobar just 60 miles from Indonesia. Because in the 1965 war President Sukarno loaned Pakistan two small W class Soviet submarines Nagarangsang and Bramaastra in the 1965 war. Lt Basuki and Lt Sultan Ahmed(Later CNS Pakistan) with small crews sailed them to Karachi from Jakarta on surface. Admiral YH Malik CNS of Pakistan Navy then a junior officer on Bramaastra, stated no Indian warship was ever sighted on passage Jakarta to Karachi. Navy did not take part in the 1965 war on orders of Jt Secretary HC Sarin in absence of Def Sec Rao and DM Chavan and PM Lal Bahadur Shastri told CNS BS Soman it was a Cabinet order.

On 21 October 1967 in the six day war the Egyptian Navy Osa missile boats sank the Israeli destroyer Eilat (ex Z Class Royal Navy) with 47 dead. The P-15 missiles were fired from boats in port, when the Eliat was operating near the Sinai coast. This revived Navy’s interest in the Osas.
Chapter 11 Page 139
Osa Missile Boats’ Nylon Necklace
The low silhouette and stealth characteristics of the Osa boats gave them the advantage of surprise. The Indian Navy, yearning to enter the missile age, recommended their acquisition to deter ‘hit and run raids’’ on the Saurashtra coast, the kind the Pakistan Navy conducted off Dwarka by their Destroyer squadron of 5 ships led by PNS Babur in the 1965 war. They falsely claimed to media that a ship was sunk, when only one cow died!

In his book Admiral Kohli states: “Intelligence had suggested that the Pakistan Navy was considering acquisition of missile fitted frigates. To forestall the dangers of a missile attack by Pakistan on Bombay, I had enquired from Admiral Gorshkov whether they had a mobile missile battery which could be deployed for the defence of Bombay. He replied in the negative. He later persuaded the Indian Navy that for defence of Bombay and major ports, the small Osa class missile boats would be ideal.” Project Alpha Kilo for Rs 20 crores for 8 boats and 11 months training in Vladivostok was signed.
The Osa Boats And The Towing Necklace

It was a stroke of luck for eight 240 ton Osa Class missile boats to arrive aboard heavy lift ships at Calcutta’s Kidderpore docks, in early 1971 just before the war. Russian agency Chinoy Chablani who serviced Bhilai steel plant machinery, used the large crane to unload, for training ship INS Cauvery (Cdr IK Erry Lt Cdr Ranjit B Rai) and INS Tir (Cdr GM Hiranandani Lt Cdr SK Chand) to tow two boats each to Bombay.
Each missile boat was armed with 4 SS-N-2 Styx anti-ship missiles (instead of the normal two), fitted with 3 Russian 4000 hp M-503G diesel engines for 35 knots at full power for short ranges, and the boats’ Rangout radar (NATO Square Tie) with bursts of directed power could detect surface targets over 40 miles in anomalous weather well beyond the Styx maximum missile range of 30 miles.

It is interesting how the bold attacks on Karachi by the short range Osa missile boats germinated. Innovative constructor officers of the Naval Dockyard at Vishakhapatnam used Garware nylon ropes sent from Pune for trials as berthing hawsers, converting them into a towing ‘Necklace’ with brackets welded. The author as First Lt. under INS Cauvery Cdr IK Erry had towed 2 boats from Calcutta in rough monsoon. seas. Two towing hawsers had parted and splicing them at sea was a challenge which I mentioned to Chief of Staff Commodore M S Randhawa (Ex boss in ND School) while requesting spare towing hawsers. He called ND(V) whose constructors, after consulting Soviet guarantee specialists, inserted light nylon hawsers all round the Missile boats in clamps fixed on the boats for towing, like a necklace.
They welded more clamps in a system to connect a tow and easily release it. This generated an idea to enhance the range of Osas (literally ‘wasps’) from home base under tow, then let them loose for attack, an operational ploy the Russians had never thought of.

Vice Admiral N Krishnan used this in his plan for the 1971 war as CNS Admiral SM Nanda gave the task to make out plans to Krishnan, his NA Capt Duggal and DNO Cmde OS Dawson and later dictated the war plans himself. The 8 Osa boats fortunately enabled Admiral Suerendra Nath Kohli the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command to set up facilities and commission the “25th Missile Boat Squadron”at Bombay under Russian trained Cdr Babru Yadav at INS Angrewith access to berths in Naval Dockyard.

The Technical Position (TP) that caters for missile testing and stowage was set up under Russian trained Cmde B G Madholar at Mankhurd in suburban Bombay. The missiles were sent to Lion Gate dockyard after preparation by Vladivostok-trained electrical officers Lts Promod Bhasin (later awarded VSM) and BVM Rao. Western Command simulated attacks on Karachi and one Osa was attached with the Western
Fleet in tow.
Admiral Nanda’s Ingenious War Plans
Napoleon believed in lucky generals and he attributed decisive victories to ‘luck and timing’. So did CNS Admiral SM Nanda the ‘Bomber of Karachi’, citing ‘boldness and secrecy’ as important attributes in the ‘Indian Principles of War’. Few know that Nanda did not dictate the key Operational Orders for the daring attack on Karachi to his HQ staff but to a young relation sworn to secrecy.

These were sent to Western Naval Command as charge documents. He took Vice Admiral S N Kohli, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Command into confidence, to exercise the Osa boats for the intended operations. He informed PM Mrs. Indira Gandhi of his plans to attack Karachi, and in a closed door Chiefs of Staff
meeting chaired by Gen Sam Manekshaw, asked Air Chief Marshal PC Lal for an air strike on Karachi at dawn the first day of the war.

When Manekshaw found Lal considering this suicidal, Sam said in Punjabi, “Chotta brah ek strike mang raha hai. De de,” (small brother is asking for just one strike, give it) and added “Marange to marenge, asi ladayi karan ja rahi hai, mohabaat nahi.” (Die if we must, we are going to war, not to make love). Thus would flamboyant Manekshaw confront operational issues head on. He spoke to Mrs. Indira Gandhi in a tone of confidence and acted like Chief of Defence Staff which irked Air Chief Lal. When Manekshaw was promoted to Field Marshal as Army Chief after the war and
was being considered for CDS, ACM Lal objected and is in his auto biography My Years With The IAF. Nanda, on tour in Bombay was sounded by Defence Secretary Govind Narian, and smiled, “You can promote any one with as many stars as you like – as long as you do not take away any of mine”. The IAF since then till 2012 has objected to a CDS, a seminal loss to the nation, brought out in the Kargil war.

Nanda employing the RN Staff College tri-appreciation technique, asked for three independent operational war plans from his DNO Commodore O S Dawson, NA Capt. V P Duggal and Vice Admiral Nilkanth Krishnan (appointed as Flag Officer
Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Naval Command). He allotted one missile boat to be in tow to Rear Admiral Chandy Kuruvilla the Western Fleet commander to lead the strike on Karachi. The Fleet Operations Officer feared the fleet was spotted on 3rd December by a civilian Pakistani plane flying though close to the Makran coast, steered away and failed to strike, belying Nanda’s expectation. Nanda had made the war signal and Mrs. Gandhi had broadcast that war had broken. A disappointed Nanda reviewed plans and ordered Op Trident.


The story of a path setting ship INS Nilgiri of the Indian Navy needs to told. It is the operational performance of the 3,000 ton modern Leander frigate(F33) that set the pace of confidence to the Executive and Technical Brass of India’s Navy to become a builder’s Navy. She served from 1972 to 1996.

The Indian Navy selected the proven Leander design and it from Yarrow Shipyard Ltd in Scotland and Vickers Ltd to build Niligiri at Mazagon Docks Ltd(MDL) Bombay. On 23rd October, 1968(Writer’s wedding anniversary) PM Indira Gandhi applied ‘Kum Kum’ on Nilgiri’s stern and launched her at MDL, and on 3rd June 1972 (Adm Madhevendra’s wedding day or birthday writer forgets), she commissioned Nilgiri into the Indian Navy. Equipment was selected by Capt DS Paintal (TAS) as DCPT in NHQ later appointed Captain by CNS Adm SM Nanda over others as he had commanded a Khukri class with elan.

The Leander Project at NHQ and its team in Yarrow Shipyard Ltd under Commodore Kapadia and course mate Lt Cdr Rishwadkar(E) worked out scheduling of supplies. That is when Navy’s indigenisation started in earnest to cut costs. Valves came from Leader in Jullundur, SRE from Motwani and pumps from companies in Pune and hull fittings from merchant ship suppliers in Bombay. Officers took initiative.

Nilgiri’s performance at sea gaveIndian Navy’s rank and file, shipyards and dockyards a spurt to imbibe the world’s latest naval technology and ship building practices, which has been taken to heights by today’s Navy with self help, and a will to ‘Make in India’. CMDs of PSU yards came from the Navy. This has paid dividends and Navy set up a small Naval Design Directorate and the Weapons Electronics Engineering Systems Establishment(WEESE) in private premises in New Delhi. Some officers from Nilgiri later joined WEESE which has done yeoman R&D work for the Navy.

Continue reading


The history, philosophy and pedigree of a Navy matters. India’s Navy began as the Honourable East India Company’s Marine on 5th Sept, 1612, and after many designations, a Royal Charter designated it the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) operating from Bombay on 2nd October 1934 as a daughter Navy of the Royal Navy. The RIN got blood lined with its parent victorious Royal Navy by fighting alongside in the Second World War with heroic actions on ships manned by officers and ratings from India, and those seconded from the Royal Navy. Few served on RN ships in the Atlantic too.

From 18 ships the strength of RIN rose to 50 odd small RIN sloops and minesweepers by 1941, manned by some 20,000 hurriedly trained ex Merchant Navy officers and ratings in UK, Cochin, Bombay and Karachi, where schools were set up and operate even today. Indian Navy treats training as its forte, and now simulation. It has converted and regularly updated RN and NATO books on Signals (ANSB) and Tactical Procedures (ATPs) into Indian Publications by the Rule Writing Groups exposed to the Soviet Navy for tactics,  and recently United States Navy for strategy.

 In WW II the secular RIN with Brits, Hindus, Muslims, Anglo Indians and Parsees, eating out of each other’s plates as one operated in the Indian Ocean, off Burma and in the Red Sea. Many were decorated by the King with DSOs and MBEs and Mentioned in Dispatches to mention later Admirals Soman, Krishnan and Karmarkar who was the first Indian Commander to command HMS Cauvery and later INS Delhi briefly with British ratings and officers under him. He was an Ex Dufferin Merchant Navy Captain who joined RINVR as a reservist so was superseded by Katari, Soman, Chakravty and Chaterjee in the Navy List and opted to serve on.

RIN’s war actions are chronicled in Timeless Wake by the Maritime History Society of India. The sinking of the armed Japanese raider Hokuko Maru (10,000 tons) and chasing away of the second Aikoku Maru (8,000 tons) by 650 ton Bathurst class minesweeper HMIS Bengal with its 15 pounder gun while escorting a convoy under Lt Cdr WJ Wilson, RINR on 11th January, 1942 from Australia is also vividly described in An Underhand Affair. The Royal Navy down played RIN’s actions in the Naval history of the Royal Navy despite being its daughter Navy, because the 1946 Indian Naval Mutiny coloured the impression of the Royal Indian Navy as mutineers in the eyes of the British Admiralty. The mutiny heralded India’s Independence. The details are in the novel by Ranjit B Rai titled An Underhand Affair The Travails of a Dalit Girl and a Sacked RIN Sailor. Variety/Adhyyan Books/ ISBN 9-789388-644167 Rs 250 on Amazon. Money back if you do not enjoy it. 

When India gained Independence on 15th August 1947 the RIN retained its name, and its ceremonials including flags with the St George’s cross(even today), and continued with the RN traditions and operational philosophy as a Dominion Navy within the Commonwealth and exercised with the Commonwealth Navies including Pakistan in JETs off Colombo. IN and RIN links had grown stronger when HMS Achilles of the Battle of River Plate fame was commissioned as HMIS Delhi on 5th July 1948 at Birkenhead, under Captain HNS Brown RN, with 17 British officers and petty officers and the large 700 crew was Indian. Commander RD Katari was her Executive Officer while Lieutenant SM Nanda was her First Lieutenant. Both became Chiefs of Naval Staff of the Indian Navy. Nanda steered the Navy as the Bomber of Karachi in the 1971 war to liberate Bangladesh.

 Between 1950-60  11 frigates joined from UK. These included the 3 Type II Hunt-class destroyers led by HMS Bedale in 1953. Then followed the 3 new Leopard Brahmaputra class AA frigates with CPP propellers and FPS 5 gunnery system from Vickers at New Castle on Tyne; 2 Whitby anti-submarine Trishul class frigates from Cammell Laird, at Birkenhead, and 3 anti submarine Blackwood 2nd Rate Khukri class frigates from J Samuel White at Cowes on the Isle of White. The Whitbys were later refitted with P-15 missiles aping the Soviet ships.

In 1961 the aircraft carrier HMS Hercules with British Sea Hawk and French ASW Alize planes joined the Indian Navy as INS Vikrant. Later in bold move Indian Navy decided to make a 3,000 ton Leander at Mazagon Docks in Bombay. Spares and machinery began being shipped out from Yarrow in Glasgow for India’s first Leander the INS Nilgiri which is the base design for all ships that followed with improvements and Soviet Navy weapons. The West restricted supply of arms to India. The last nail in the coffin was when Britain refused to supply the Oberon class submarines after training Indian submariners at HMS Dolphin. Links with the Royal Navy came under strain which Lord Mountbatten lamented in writing.

In that period Pakistan tilted to the United States and joined the Baghdad Pact and SEATO. India professed non-alignment but was dependant on Soviets in UN too. USA leased Pakistan a Tench class attack submarine PNS Ghazi, Patton tanks and F-86 Star fighters which emboldened it to start a 17 day war in September of 1965. Navy was not allowed to participate.

Only from 1967 Soviet Union supplied 8 Foxtrot class class submarines with tender INS Amba and 8 Petya class ASW ships and 8 IL-38 Maritime Patrol aircraft. As Liaison Officer to Admiral of the Fleet Sergie Gorshkov during his three visits to India between 1964-1985, this writer as Director of Naval Operations was witness to changed IN’s operational and fighting strategy to be ready for war and was given commanded a Soviet supplied Petya INS Kavaratti. In the 1971 war 8 OSA class P-15 missile firing boats from USSR were ingeniously towed off Karachi in Op Trident and Python respectively. The IN heralded missile warfare on land from the seas and the Navy became and is missile centric.

The Soviets supplied ten Kilo class submarines and two Nuclear submarines INS Chakra, the first operated from 1987 to 1991, and an Akula in 2014 which is currently operating with the IN and helped build nuclear submarines in India under the Advanced Technology Vehicle(ATV) project. The 6.000 ton INS Arihant equipped with K-15/B-05 nuclear tipped 750 km range got commissioned in 2016. The missiles and Indian built nuclear reactor are the pride of the Nation’s Triad.

On 14TH June, 2014 Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the Russian re-furbished $ 2.3 bill 44,400 ton aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (Ex Gorshkov) with MiG-29K fighters and Ka-31 AEW helicopters to the nation, and declared, “Indian Navy’s Potential Must Be Harnessed For India To Rise”.


A thaw commenced in military relations with USA post 9/11/2001 terror attacks in New York. Navy begun exercising with the US Navy and more officers began to go to USA for Naval training including aviators for carrier flying training and acquired 10,00 ton LPD INS Jalashwa on FMS. Six former naval Chiefs graduated from the US Naval War College. The series of Malabar exercises became annual and India was no longer non aligned, but advocated Strategic Alignments. The IN was exposed to USN and other Navies’ operations and procedures. In Malabar the Navy carried US Navy’s CENTRIX system for digital internet communications and maritime domain awareness(MDA) and Navies exchanged officers. Navy’s expansion took on a larger strategic approach with the Government declaring the IN as the Net Security Provider(NSP) in the Indian Ocean Region(IOR) in 2013, on Robert Gates goading. The US Navy philosophy of ‘big brother’ was being adopted. Eight modern P8i Boeing 737 Maritime Reconnaissance planes out of 12 ordered equipped with a CAE AN/ASQ-508A magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) system, APS-143C(V)3 multimode radar and a global version of the Raytheon APY-10 surveillance radar have joined. They are armed with MK 84 Harpoons and MK 48/58 torpedoes and the planes are operating from INS Rajali near Chennai.


The Navy’s philosophy has calumniated in Mission Based Deployments and strategy is like the US Navy with ready ships and aircraft along critical sea lanes of communications and choke points in FONOPS, and in International exercises. Indian Navy is aware of an expansionist China backed by its rapidly rising naval and military muscle with economic power, to assist Pakistan in the $56 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to gain access to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean which of course, presents a much bigger challenge for India, if Navy is not funded and its strength increased with long term support. The Indian Navy, however, is quite confident of its dominance in its strategic IOR backyard for now. The IN knows the Chinese PLA Navy is here to stay, but it faces the tyranny of logistics in the IOR which Navy can shear. Shan No Varuna.

A larger version of this article has been published in NAVAL REVIEW UK November issue considered the acme of Naval writing in History and analysis and maritime thinking.