Reflections on overseeing an ocean: India to commission its second aircraft carrier - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.
1576073447DefExpo202025719_00
ad-placeholder

Home Top Ad

Breaking



Thursday, 1 September 2022

Reflections on overseeing an ocean: India to commission its second aircraft carrier

As INS Vikrant (pictured here) joins the navy’s fleet, there remains a worrying lack of clarity in New Delhi about where it should focus its limited resources

 

By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 2nd Sept 22

 

On Friday, when Indian Naval Ship (INS) Vikrant is commissioned into the navy’s fleet, we will join a group of just five countries that each operate more than one aircraft carrier. In addition to the 44,000-tonne INS Vikramaditya, bought from Russia, we will have the brand new 45,000-tonne INS Vikrant. China, Italy and the United Kingdom also have two carriers each. The United States (US) Navy – the 900-pound gorilla of aircraft carrier operations – has 11 carriers, each displacing about 100,000 tonnes, projecting American power across the globe.

 

While our two carriers might appear to constitute a respectable power projection capability, they would seldom translate into more than a single combat-ready carrier. The US Navy’s Marine Tracker website, which tracks the deployment of major American warships, reveals that, as of August 29, only three US Navy carrier strike groups (CSG) were operationally deployed – less than a quarter of America’s carriers. The US Navy also has seven Wasp-class landing helicopter docks (LHD) – amphibious assault ships that embark F-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft, Sea Harriers or F-35 Lightening II vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) fighters; and a Marine Expeditionary Unit consisting of more than 2,000 combat ready marines. Of America’s seven LHDs, just four are operationally deployed. 

 

Similarly, the Indian Navy’s two aircraft carriers would mostly amount to just a single operationally deployed carrier. To have two carriers operationally available, the naval fleet must have three aircraft carriers since, most of the time, one of those three would be in the dockyard for maintenance. The navy projects its requirement for two deployed carriers in simple terms: One for the east coast (the Bay of Bengal and Malacca Strait) and a second for the west coast (Arabian Sea, the Pakistan coast and West Asia). But of late, the navy brass has begun advocating for a third deployed carrier to carry out power projection at longer ranges across the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). But operationally deploying three carriers would require a four-carrier fleet. So the navy’s requirement is not just for a second indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-2) but also for a third one (IAC-3), along with its own aviation group and the destroyers, frigates, corvettes, replenishment vessels and submarines needed for three carrier battle groups (CBGs). Meanwhile, as in most navies, an internal debate rages between the “sea control” proponents of decisive naval battle, in which aircraft carriers play a decisive role; and “sea denial” advocates in which dispersed battleships and submarines occupy centre stage.



 What is certain is that India would need enormous financial resources for creating such forces. Former US Senator Everett Dirksen, known for his acerbic wit, famously cautioned against how government spending spiralled out of control: “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money." However, aircraft carriers and large warships, like no other weapons platforms, have peacetime use as much as during wartime, serving as a diplomatic tool for showing the flag to allies, partners and adversaries alike. In addition, naval forces have an unparalleled capability for dispensing humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR), as the Indian Navy did after the Asian tsunami of 2004, earning an enviable reputation as a force that could reach all across the Indian Ocean littoral in peacetime as in war. Just as a large fleet of strategic transport aircraft has given the Indian Air Force a capability that has utility both in peacetime and war, a fleet of large and capable warships provide the capability to reach across an ocean both in peace and in war.

 

The US Congress has recognised this explicitly. America’s latest National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) – the US federal law that specifies the annual defence budget and expenditures under various heads – has for the first time given the navy legal and budgetary powers to discharge a clear peacetime, as well as its combat, role. 

 

The new US formulation says: “The Navy shall be organized, trained and equipped for thepeacetime promotion of national security interests and prosperityof the United Statesandprompt and sustained combat incident to operations at sea.” Inserted in bold/italics is the new wording that emphasizes peacetime and economic missions. All navies are about the overt display of presence. The newly-framed US law continues to recognise the US Navy’s warfighting role, while enabling it to remain within the four corners of the law in discharging a peacetime role as well.

 

Given India’s putative role as a net security provider in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), and the upholder of global commons such as the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) that carry 70 per cent of global trade through these waters, the navy faces the stark question: What challenges must it overcome in discharging this role? New Delhi’s regional partners in restraining a belligerent China – primarily the US, Japan, Australia and Singapore  -- would like the Indian Navy to lock down the IOR, while the other partners can focus on deterring the People’s Liberation Army (Navy), or PLA(N) in the vicinity of the first and second island chains in the South China Sea. This would not be easy, given the PLA(N)’s mind-boggling expansion, with Chinese warship building yards in Dalian constructing four-five large and sophisticated destroyers simultaneously.

 

Furthermore, commissioning a second aircraft carrier, howsoever satisfying, does little to assuage New Delhi’s apprehensions about its 3,488-kilometre line of actual control (LAC), as the Sino-Indian land border is called. As a consequence of the PLA’s multiple encroachments across the LAC in the summer of 2020, some of which remain to be cleared, Beijing has made sure that New Delhi’s strategic attention is fixed on the LAC, rather than on the Indian Ocean. The unsettled land border with China, where it has won a war in 1962 and continues to enjoy a military advantage, remains India’s primary security concern. Meanwhile the vast oceanic reaches of the Indian Ocean, which India can dominate more easily, remain at the fringes of its attention. 

 

With India being the only member-country of the Quadrilateral that shares a land border with China, its preoccupation with the LAC is not well understood by its partner countries. The US and Australia have noted that India’s stakes in the IOR are greater than in the high Himalayas. New Delhi must show resolve, they say, since India’s own economic prosperity depends upon keeping open its SLOCs in the Indian Ocean. On a day when the Indian Navy commissions its second aircraft carrier, there remains a worrying lack of clarity in New Delhi about where it should focus its attention and its meagre financial resources.


5 comments:

  1. # where is the data to support the thesis of an increasingly belligerent china. surely not hongkong - PRC did not disregard the lease that anglosphere extracted from beijing at the close of the 'opium wars' when the east india company insisted that china had to accept opium [forcibly produced by oppressed peasants in bihar, bengal, orissa] in exchange for tea, porcelains, and silks from china. when the lease expired, beijing merely took back sovereignty. if anything the so called west, especially anglosphere should have apologized to the people of china for the dumping of indian opium at the treaty ports, and destroying their society.
    surely not taiwan. the republicans lost the civil war, and beijing allowed them to retreat to the island, rather than wiping them out. beijing could have quite easily pursued them, but chinese political philosophy is clear - when you surround an army, leave an outlet free. do not pursue a desperate foe too hard. sun tzu termed this the 'golden bridge'
    surely not aksai chin. check any colonial era map, any treaty document. aksai chin was not part of british india, or part of the zamindari that the jammu darbar was granted from the east india company, as an extension of its permanent settlement policy, for a mere bag of silver rupees. colonial era treaties forced by imperialists were unequal treaties, secured through force. an agreement obtained through force, with one party under duress, is ab initio void, invalid. beijing built a road through eastern aksai chin to connect tibet with xinjiang. when raisina hill came to know this the order went out - throw them out. beijing successfully defended its highway and after comprehensively defeating our military returned to their line. at no stage did they covet leh, or ladakh. aksai chin was referred to by the then prime minister as a place where not a blade of grass will grow.... a useless uninhabitable land. beijing does not covet the plains of assam, or arunachal. these are merely bargaining chips.
    the recent move by their PLA to a ridge line overlooking the newly inaugurated darbuk, shyok DBO road was a natural consequence to the quite unnecessary declaration in parliament, and outside, that the nationalist socialist [bharatiya janata] dispensation would be using this road and DBO as the launch pad to interdict beijing's highway through aksai chin. kautilya would have advised them - speech was given to man to disguise his thoughts.
    fortress andaman as a chokepoint on the straits of malacca is not belligerence by beijing.
    freedom of navigation in the south china sea will not solve the problem of bangaloor going under water after a heavy down pour. bangaloor is indiya's silicon valley.

    ReplyDelete
  2. # vanity projects, another aircraft carrier built by cochin shipyard in ernakulam will not solve the problem of ernakulam's marine drive adjacent to the shipyard, and the naval base, katari bagh where all the admirals and the commodores, captains live with their spouses, children, the naval hospital INS sanjivini, all under water after heavy rains, just a ten days before the commissioning by our prime minister.
    harappan civilization was celebrated for its network of drains, its urban planning. bangaloor, ernakulam, madras-chennai, calcutta, bombay-mumbai - a heavy downpour and almost the city and its suburbs are under water. we need urban planning, we need modern civic administration.
    we need to provide our jawans with high protein wheat rotis instead of the MSP punjab wheat that is often nothing better than animal feed grade on the international market. we are allowing our corporates to export 14 percent protein wheat. we need to give our jawans full cream milk not the toned milk [cream removed] that is presently their ration. toned milk is a colonial era innovation particular to india, to provide a milk product to the 'natives', while full cream milk ghee, butter, milk powder were taken away by london for their 1939-45 war. today our citizens are still being made to accept toned milk.
    arun shourie said the NDA goverment is nothing more than congress plus cow. doodh without malai.
    and even the cow is increasingly the anglocow, the black and white holstein friesian. we have our wonderful cattle - sahiwals, girs, tharparkar, red sindhi, nelloor. and their milk is delicious.
    soldiers are provided cavendish bananas, not the desi variety. american cavendish has taken over the indian market. delicious desi bananas are a niche item. bananas are an important source of essential nutrients. our soldiers, school children require locally sourced fresh fruits, vegetables, full cream milk. there is nothing like a porridge in the morning of protein rich whole wheat dalia cooked in full cream milk, sweetened with dark brown, molasses rich jaggery gur.

    ReplyDelete
  3. INDIA JUST COMMISSIONED VIKRANT

    OBSOLETIUM

    It is an OBSOLETE piece of scrap and the PLN will sink the entire Indan Navy. MIG 29K is a disaster. It has failed on RUSSIAN carriers also.

    The CARRIER Catapault is obsolete and so,the frequency of aircraft launches is low and thus,the weight of the aircraft w.r.t. weapons and fuel is limited.THIS SEVERELY CONSTRAINTS,THE REACH OF THE CARRIER.

    THE OBSOLETE CATAPAULT ENSURES THAT HEAVY AIRCRAFT AND AWACS ARE OUT OF THE QUESTION. A CARRIER W/O AN AWAC AND CARGO PLANES ,IS USELESS

    THE LAST DIS-ASS-TER IS THE GAS TURBINE.- WHICH MEANS THAT THE DINDOO NAVY WILL NEED TO REFUEL FROM FRIENDLY PORTS AND NATIONS.IN WAR - THERE ARE NO FRIENDS PLN HAS BUILT ISLANDS PRECISELY FOR THESE REASONS.PLN NEEDS NO FRIENDLY PORT, TO REFUEL

    A CARRIER AND A SUB,ARE SITING DUCKS WHEN THEY REFUEL.! THAT ALSO MEANS THAT THE CARRIER WILL LOSE PRECIOUS SPACE AND WEIGHT, TO STOCK FUEL INDIANS ARE CENTURIES AWAY,FROM A NUCLEAR POWER REACTOR,FOR A CARRIER ! PUTIN IS NOW IN THE CHINA ORBIT, AND WILL NOT SELL THE NUKE TECHNOLOGY

    THE BIGGEST DI-ASS-T I S THAT THE INDIANS TOOK 17 YEARS TO MAKE THIS CARRIER

    THE CHNESE CHURN IS MANY MANY TIMES FASTER.SO THE INDIANS ARE DOOMED

    EVEN AFTER RAFALE COMES (WHICH THE FRENCH CARRIERS TOOK LONG TO INTEGRATE) AND EVEN IF THE CATAPAULT IS CHANGED WITH US AID - THE INDIANS STAND NO CHANCE, DUE TO THE SHEER PACE AT THE PLN WILL REPRODUCE

    ALSO,,,THE CHINESE WILL HAVE A NUKE CARRIER AT LEAST 20 YEARS BEFORE THE INDIANS - AND THAT WILL BURY INDIA.NUKE POWER MEANS NO FUEL NO SPACE AND WEIGHT LOSS AND LIMITLESS POWER FOR CATAPAULTING AND USE OF ELECTROMAGNETIC CATAPAULTS..NO SPACE AND WEIGHT LOSS,MEANS MORE JF-17+ AWACS + DEFENSE GRADE ATF + WEAPONS + MISSILES + CARGO PLANES= IMPREGNABLE SEA FORTRESS,WITH CARGO PLANES WHICH CAN FERRY RATIONS AND ATF - SO NO NEED TO TOUCH LAND

    AND THEN TO COMPLETELY NAIL DOWN THE DINDOO NAVY,THE PLN CAN MOVE TOWARDS ANDAMAN ! THAT WILL TIE DOWN THE NAVY ,LIKE A TADPOLE!

    VIKRANT IS A SITTING DUCK ! WHAT PNS GHAZI COULD NOT DO IN VIZAG MINING IN 1971- WILL THE PAKISTANI NAVY STEP UP NOW ?

    VIKRANT = LUMBERING OLD PIECE OF SCRAP !

    WILL AN INDIAN CARRIER WORK,& CAN INDIANS INTEGRATE THE VARIOUS SYSTEMS, IN THE CARRIER, ASSUMING THE PLN DOES NOT HACK THEM ? ALL OLD INDIAN CARRIERS WERE DECOMMISSIONED RUSSIAN JUNK - & SO,THE RUSSIANS TRAINED THE INDIANS, TO USE THE JUNK

    THIS IS AJUNK MADE BY INDIANS IN INDIA - WITH COPY & PASTE TECH,WHICH HAS BEEN INTEGRATED INTO THE CARRIER - WHICH NOW THE INDIAN NAVY, HAS TO SYNTHESISE, ON SEA & IN WAR !

    INDIANS CANNOT LAUNCH A BRAHMOS - & "DEFENDING" A FLOATING TARGET ON SEA,FROM EW/EMP/MISSILES &TORPEDOES- WITH THE CARRIER USING MULTIPLE PLATFORMS - & WITH NO KNOWLEDGE OF CHINESE SYSTEMS (AS THEY ARE 100%, MADE IN CHINA) = DOOM !

    Y IS INDIA GETTING INTO A CARRIER/SUB RACE WITH PLN,WHEN IT HAS NO MONEY,& NO TECH ? THEY SHOULD LEARN FROM RAMA WHO USED AN ARMY OF APES TO MAKE A BRIDGE& NOT A SHIP - WHICH TOOK 12 YEARS ! ( 5 YEARS LESS THAN VIKRANT) !dindooohindoo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sir,
      Buying or building Carriers or Submarines doesn't mean you have the capacity and capability of optimal utilization. You have to understand that Indian Navy has a very long experience of operating carriers and hence, it is currently way ahead of Chinese in terms of carrier ops.
      Coming to your comment about our carrier being junk, I just have to say, you have to start from somewhere. Tell me any modern carrier costing less than 3 bn usd in the whole world.
      Moving on to ur point of catapult system, even USN is facing problems in EMALS.

      Don't just try to demean the hardwork of our own people. Have some trust. NAVY WILL PROTECT YOU. SO CHEERS
      Regards

      Delete
  4. 17 years from cutting steel to commissioning is far too long. Even weapons grade steel has a life and maybe half of it is already gone. Gas turbine engines and refuelling will be a major constraint in war. No match for the nuke powered future Chinese carriers.

    ReplyDelete

Recent Posts

Untitled%2Bdesign
Page 1 of 10412345...104Next >>Last
ad-placeholder
ad-placeholder