Ranjit B Rai
This IDF post must start with a Salute and a Bravo Zulu(BZ) by this old time 1974 Yachting Bronze Medalist, to the six women officers— Lt Cdrs Pratibha Jamwal, and P Swathi, and Lts Vijaya Devi, B Aishwarya and Payal Gupta led by skipper Lt Cdr Vartika Joshi. Its challenging to propel a Kishti(Boat) forward against wind power and face Toofans (Storms), and avoid capsizing or attacks. And the six women in white with grit went sailing “Round Our Dangerous Terror Filled World’s Oceans.” They will touch Goa soon.
The girls were trained by and have followed Cdrs Dhonde; and Abhilash Tomy, the 79th person in the world to complete solo unassisted. This is what makes Navies great in spirit, and felicitations to the Navy for the organizational support and Adm M P Awati ‘a Sailor’ who pushed Navy to allocate funds with zeal to make the achievements possible.
This week end IDF post continues with a Budget analysis as the Navy’s Capital budget for 2018-19 can be termed a starvation Capital Budget which has fallen every year from Rs 222.69 billion in 2014-15 to just Rs 193.48 billion last year and Rs 208.48 billion for 2018-19 and from Navy’s total Rs 452 billion which includes Inter Service costs of IDS Etc. Army total budget is Rs 2507 bill and India Today says it’s broke on its cover. Army is angry. The Air Force has total Rs 726 bill, as it has to pay for advances for 36 Rafales and Tejas.
This allocation to Navy will just allow the Navy to pay for the escalation costs of around 18 ships and submarines and an expensive aircraft carrier under construction and shore support from its Capital Budget. Eight small ships under construction (3 Training & 5 Survey Ships) are unlikely to be built and 5 OPVs will not complete for a few years by troubled Reliance Naval Engineering and surprisingly debt ridden Reliance has got the Rafale support and off set contract.
The Navy will certainly run professional local and International exercises like RIMPAC and Malabar which is sans Australia as IDF predicted this week, from its Revenue budget and fire missiles and guns and operate the three dimensional Navy, but as in the past Fuel use age may be curtailed if oil price zooms. Belts may get tight, and funnily if Navy saves its Revenue budget it cannot transfer the saving. The Army tried the incentive but MOF did not appreciate the juggling.
The news is Navy is currently stagnating. This year may become the first year without any new orders or opening RFPs or just 2 Krivacks will be ordered. Money is not the problem one learns as media reports, as Stock Market shows and FM boasts but a Finance Ministry wants to reduce deficit. MOD must appreciate Navy warships and submarines need long term capital planning. You can buy planes soon and make proto-type tanks like Arjun and planes like Tejas but warships do not allow the luxury of expensive prototypes. That is why USA asks two MICs to quote and build. That is how Navy progressed in steps with Broad Beamed Leanders, to Godavari Class to Type 15s and the Type 17s learning about them from Russia’s Krivacks and these are the Navy’s horses with BrahMoses and Baraks. Submarines have been flogged and some Shishumars will get Harpoons. The Aviation needs helicopters and Drones. 12 P8i 737 can scour the seas for MDA. The Navy is still potent.
IDF has tried to explain in posts that the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and China and East China Seas (SCS and ECS) now called Indo-Pacific holds importance for India and its contiguous nations for Geo-Strategy and Geo-Economy with Blue Economies rising. China is prospecting sea beds. India is Geo-Fortunate as its land mass juts out like a sword into the Indian Ocean which has five choke Points of entry with ability to stop an intruder. This worries China and geography offers deterrence to PLA (N) to only use IOR under UNCLOS 1982 Rules for Freedom of Navigation (FON). Bases that China has made inroads into can be vulnerable to QUAD. See last post.
But China is determined to be accepted into the Indo Pacific Security Architecture to join and later replace USA which has been a major constituent of Asia Pacific Security Architecture with bases in Japan, Korea, Singapore, Philippines and Diego Garcia. USA and its Navy has India’s support for what is another worry called China’s Malacca Dilemma and the waters of the Indian Ocean washes the shores of over 40 countries. Most are friendly to USA and want a strong democratic stable India with a strong Navy with China in mind to rein in a terror nation—viz Pakistan which destabilizes.
On 9th May US, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis made above clear by saying , “India has been very open and inviting for a stronger military-to-military relationship. India, is the world’s most populous democracy. They’ve been very open, inviting for a stronger military to military relationship. They see it in their best interest. These two democracies have every reason to work together because we want the same thing, basically.”
IDF says this as one look at the Navy Diary -2018 going in to 2019 tells readers the 10 of 13 Kilo and Shishumar class are over 25 years old and will be replaced by 6 Scorpenes by 2023 when target was over 24. The 4 Rajput class are heading beyond 35 years in amazing service with no foreign cruises now. The last INS Ganga is on its last legs from GRSE as its two sisters Godavari and Gomati have gone. INS Betwa capsized in dry docks and is back like a wounded soldier. The Kora class are 20 years old and may get QUAD Brahmos missiles and the 6 Sukanya Class are over 25 years old.
The 3 well designed training ships at ABG are history and a new RFI has been issued. The LPDs are old and needed but the 4 LPD reply to RFP is still to be opened. Navy’s 5 OPVs ordered at Reliance Naval Engineering which is crying bankruptcy in courts and 5 survey vessels are no more at Alcock Ashdown. So the 34 ships on order are now just around 19 with two more Nuclear submarines and may be another Chakra may join as the older Chakras were funded.
This year Navy will get INS Kavaratti ASW Corvette if the crane crash of 17th April at GRSE has not affected it, and one Type 15B Vishakapatnam which is on trials from MDL and first DSRV will arrive but its mother ship is still to be inducted. Navy’s air arm and strength has been increased with Mig-29Ks but INS Vikramaditya may need a refit and Vikrant with Italian 40 L radar from CSL is delayed. The 7 Type 17A design can now be completed as DAC has cleared 13 Mk 45 guns of 127 mm (5Inch)caliber from BAE USA. Oto Melara BHEL partner which supplies the 76mm guns are out.
One of Navy’s 5 IL-138 had a nose landing with Russian crew, when it was in Russia. Indian Navy and Air Force is still dependant on USA and Russia for maintenance of its Military for its efficacy and that needs money to be paid to them for services.
So IDF offers an idea for Sea Legs if there is thinking. Navy needs platforms and IDF suggests India get second hand Sea Legs (warships) from USA at base line prices on FMS and hold Mattis to his word, to work together as the 13 Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) cleared orders are not orderable with the budget and expansion seems de-railed this year. Navy is not to be faulted.
IDF feels there can be economy with second hand FMS ships in pristine condition from USA for training and OPV and patrolling duties as officers and men need sea time, the hallmark of Indian Navy. Navy ran second hand 9,000 ton LP Dock INS Jalashwa from FMS well. Pakistan has lived on it. Like Royal Navy, Indian Navy can also lease tankers and OPVs too. Prices are low. But who is batting for India’s Maritime Power.
May be Defence Planning Committee will look into this. Shan Na Varuna !