Warship building: China sails far ahead of India - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Stuff.

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Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Warship building: China sails far ahead of India

 

Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 25th Nov 21

 

On Thursday, naval chief Admiral Karambir Singh will commission INS Vela, the fourth Scorpene-class conventional submarine built by Mazagon Dock Ltd, Mumbai (MDL) under Project 75. This comes just four days after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh commissioned INS Visakhapatnam, the first destroyer that MDL has completed under Project 15B.

 

In March, MDL had delivered INS Karanj, the third Scorpene submarine of its class. That took the number of indigenously built capital warships commissioned this year to three – a figure not surpassed over the preceding decade.

 

Even so, navy admirals are bemused over the euphoria at this year’s warship-building numbers. They point to China’s People’s Liberation Army (Navy), or PLA(N), which routinely builds and commissions over a dozen warships each year, with the number rising to 23 warships last year and 17 this year.

 

That accounts for why India has just one aircraft carrier against China’s two; just 10 destroyers against China’s 42 larger vessels; just 13 frigates against the PLA(N)’s 44; and barely 28 corvettes against China’s 71.

 

Capital warships acquisitions: China

 

Type of warship

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

Current total^

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jin-class SSBN

1

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

-

1

6

Shang/Han-class SSN

1

-

-

1

-

2

-

-

-

-

6

Diesel-electric submarines

6

-

-

1

1

1

1

2

-

2

57

Aircraft carriers

1

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

1

-

2

Cruisers/destroyers

-

2

2

3

1

2

3

3

4

8

42

Frigates

4

3

-

4

3

2

3

2

-

-

44

Corvettes

-

8

10

5

7

8

4

5

18

6

71

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13

13

12

14

12

15

11

13

23

17

228

 

^ Total current numbers, including warships dating back to before 2012

 

Capital warships acquisitions: India

 

Type of warship

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

Current total^

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arihant-class SSBN

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

-

-

-

1

SSN

1*

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1*

Diesel-electric submarines

-

-

-

-

-

1

-

1

-

2

17

Aircraft carriers

-

1

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1#

Cruisers/destroyers

-

-

1

1

1

-

-

-

-

1

10

Frigates

3

1

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

13@

Corvettes

-

-

1

-

1

1

-

-

1

-

28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

2

2

1

3

2

-

1

1

3

71

 

*  On lease from Russia

^  Total current numbers, including warships dating back to before 2012

# One more, INS Vikrant, likely to be delivered in 2022

@ Seven more frigates being constructed in India under Project 17A; and four more under ToT from Russia


Cruisers/destroyers

 

The PLA(N) has long regarded frigates as an instrument for exercising sovereignty over its claimed maritime area, given that these medium-sized vessels can flexibly combine multi-role capability with large numbers for persistence. 

 

Over the last decade, however, with the growing prospect of having to take on the US Navy’s sophisticated and heavily armed warships, the thrust of the PLA(N)’s warship building has switched from light frigates to heavy destroyers.

 

The PLA(N)’s destroyers are now switching from the 7,500-tonne vessels of the Luyang, Luzhou, Luhai and Luhu class to the beefier 13,000-tonne, Type 055 Renhai-class destroyers, which are actually the size of cruisers. These massive warships are capable of not just handling a range of multi-dimensional threats from underwater, surface and air, but can also function as the flagships of naval task groups.

 

With the PLA(N) already fielding 42 destroyers, there is an expectation that ramped up production of Renhai-class destroyers is likely to increase these numbers further.

 

Frigates/corvettes

 

A large component of the PLA(N)’s rapid expansion since the turn of the century has come from building frigates and corvettes in large numbers. These smaller, more agile vessels were regarded as well suited for patrolling the waters of the South China Sea in larger numbers and backing up the Coast Guard in exercising Chinese maritime claims around the nine-dash line. 

 

Towards that end, the PLA(N) commissioned seven frigates in the 2015-2016 period and last year, it commissioned 18 corvettes. India, meanwhile, has commissioned just four frigates in the last decade.

 

Submarines

 

In conventional submarines, the PLA(N) fields 18 Yuan-class vessels, along with 13 Song-class boats. In addition to these, it deploys a dozen Russian-origin Kilo-class submarines, while 14 obsolescent Ming-class submarines remain in reserve.

 

This conventional force is reinforced by the PLA(N)’s six nuclear-powered attack SSNs (nuclear propelled, conventionally armed submarines).

 

This comfortably outnumbers India’s conventional submarine force of 19 boats, which includes four German HDW submarines, nine Russian Kilo-class and four (eventually six) Scorpene boats.

 

Even after building another six boats with air-independent propulsion that are in the acquisition pipeline under Project 75I, the Indian Navy will only have 25 conventional submarines.

 

In addition, the navy’s only nuclear-powered attack submarine, taken on a 10-year lease from Russia in 2012, was aimed at facilitating the building of an indigenous line of six SSNs.

 

These, it was planned, would carry out “sea denial”, to prevent Chinese warships from using the four straits between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. This project is making far slower progress than the PLA(N)’s Shang-class and Sui-class SSN projects.

 

In addition, the PLA(N)’s underwater nuclear deterrent is based on six obsolescent, 11,000-tonne Jin-class SSBNs (nuclear-propelled, nuclear-armed submarines). These are likely to be replaced by the more modern Tang-class. The first of these was expected to be completed in 2021, but this has not yet happened.

 

India, meanwhile, has managed to complete just one SSBN, the INS Arihant. Delivery of the planned four SSBNs is running well behind schedule. The developers were understood to be facing difficulties in miniaturising the nuclear reactor and also in creating adequate space for housing the larger K-4 ballistic missiles, in place of the relatively shorter range K-15 missile that the INS Arihant carries. The resolution of such fundamental challenges could take a significant amount of time.




6 comments:

  1. Great Job Col Ajai Shukla Thanks for the knowldge sharing

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Indian Navy submarines appear to be be better than the Chinese submarines. What is the difference between the Kilo Class submarines of the two navies? How do the latest Chinese submarines compare to the Kilo Class submarines? Is the PLAN going to upgrade it's Kilo Class of submarines?


    ReplyDelete
  3. Scorpion submarine projet is project 75 not 75i as is mentioned in the writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Quite right, thanks for pointing out that piece of sloppiness. Have corrected it.

      Delete
  4. Sir,
    Indian Navy will be lacking behind because they don't encourage Indian manufacturing to flourish ! Take an example Indian Navy is buying gas turbine from Ukraine but our BHEL can make marine gas-turbine. Actually there is not much different between industrial gas-turbine used for power generation and marine gas turbine.
    This is just one example. There are many.
    This is why we take 7 years to complete a ship where as China take only seven months !
    Best regards

    ReplyDelete
  5. # india exported 747 tonnes of non-bssmati rice to china during 2019-20. during 2020-21 india's exports of non basmati rice to china increased, astonishingly, to 3,31,989 tonnes. jai jawan, jai kisan.

    ReplyDelete

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