Friday, December 18, 2009

India needs self-sufficiency in ship building

by Abhijit Bhattacharyya

One does not have to be an Admiral Gorshkov (the longest serving Soviet naval chief) or Alfred Thayer Mahan (the guru of the maritime doctrine) or a Sir Julian Corbett, the Royal Navy Admiral, to state the obvious. That a navy is not built in a day and no nation can aspire to be a naval power by being at the eternal mercy of foreign suppliers and manufacturers, which can arm twist the ship users’ lack of knowledge and technology at will by taking advantage of its expertise and experience in ship building thereby resulting in the importer’s weakness and helplessness. In fact, naval history of the world is replete with instances of nations which prospered and developed during last 500 years inevitably had the advantage to traverse the entire two-thirds of the global lake in ships built in their own shipyards.

Traditionally, there have never been very many fighting ship-builders either in the 20th or the 21st century. Thus, during World War II Japan was virtually the sole Asian naval power by virtue of its ship building capacity and capability, restrictions imposed by the Washington naval disarmament conference of 1922 notwithstanding. In the west of Suez, Anglo-American supremacy was over, and superiority to the perceived “land-powers” like Germany and its European allies could never match the marine powers’ strength, stamina, endurance and industrial productivity. Hence the war ended in victory for the superior, combined naval strength of the West and defeat for the sole maritime Japanese foe.

Post-World War II, however, the rise of the Soviet Navy was the sole non-Western, non-capitalist state to pose a threat to the virtual monopoly of the Anglo-Saxon naval axis. And it happened, thanks to the Soviet Deputy Minister of Defence-cum-Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy, Admiral Sergei Georgiyevich Gorshkov, who initiated an unprecedented construction plan and timely execution of all ships required by the state. The Soviets challenged the West in the sea because the Soviets made the ships in their own shipyard. Hence they did not have to bank on the charity and worry about the whims of foreigners resulting in time and cost overrun.

In the post-Soviet era, it is the turn of China to pick up the thread which already has built a formidable navy with an apparent single-point agenda of an indigenous ship construction programme. True, the Chinese Navy still has a few ex-Soviet/Russian inventories in its fleet, but the variety and range of Beijing’s vessels today is simply awesome. And there lies the strength of its fleet. Thus China today, according to Jane’s Fighting Ships, 2009-2010, has a total of 54 submarines (of various class), 27 destroyers, 49 frigates and 275 fast attack and patrol craft. Of these, only 16 ships are of non-Chinese (i.e. Russian) make; 12 kilo class submarines and 4 Sovremeny destroyers.

Little wonder, the Chinese feel much more free and confident to flex their muscles and show their ships in out-of-area operations. Jane’s refers to Chinese enterprise thus, “Future historians may come to regard 2009 as the year that the Chinese Navy finally came of age.”

In the midst of the Soviet challenge to the West till the 1990s and the Chinese Navy’s “coming of age in 2009”, where does the Indian fleet stand today? How strong and self-sufficient is the navy of New Delhi? To this writer, the scenario appears to be a mixed bag of success and shortfall. The positive sides of India’s defence is the technical competency and mastery over the English language, expertise in aircraft carrier operations and combat capability in both surface and sub-surface warfare.

However, the not-so-positive factor lies in Indian inability (should one say traditional inertia!) to be self-sufficient in ship building expertise for long. The deficiency on this front is so conspicuous that one still finds all 16 submarines of the Indian Navy to be of foreign make (10 Russian ‘Kilo’,‘2Foxtrot’ and 4 German HDW class). Its sole aircraft carrier Viraat (ex-Hermes) is of British origin, 5 Rajput (Kashin class) destroyers are made in Nikolayev North shipyard (Russia), the 3 Talwar class frigates also are of Moscow origin (with three more likely to follow suit). At least five out of 12 Veer (Tarantul class) corvettes are of Russian make and so are the 4 Abhay class anti-submarine warfare patrol boats.

On the positive side, however, the Indians have made tremendous improvement in ship design, construction time reduction and planned delivery thereof. The pride of Indian ship building has been reflected in the Delhi and Kolkata class destroyers, Shivalik, Brahmaputra and Nilgiri class frigates; Kora, Khukri, Veer, Abhay and project 28 corvettes and the top of the line project of indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant which has been going on at Kochi shipyard.

Despite the mixed bag of success and shortcoming, a horrible mess appears to have been created by the failure of the Russians to stick to the delivery time schedule of the proposed refurbished and refitted Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier to India. This inordinate delay only results in an avoidable spiralling cost, which in turn affects a balanced fleet development. Indeed, one suspects that perhaps the Russians are no longer capable of producing the same quality vessels for which they made a name for themselves during the Soviet era. The period after the demise of the Soviet Union could have resulted in an acute shortage of naval technical experts thereby creating an all-round vacuum in ship-building capability of Russian shipyards.

Else, how does one justify the report that “the French government has given the go-ahead to the possible sale of a helicopter-and-troop carrying ship to Russia”? Is Russia now incapable of building even its own 15000-18000 tonne helicopter-and-troop-carrying carrier? If so, then how would the Russians be able to re-manufacture a sophisticated 45000 tonne aircraft carrier for India? Indeed, the scenario appears rather intriguing. Gorshkov has been badly delayed already. Diplomatic talks have been upgraded from the Joint Secretary to the head of government level. In between, the Captains, Admirals and Defence Ministers are failing to achieve any breakthrough. And yet the “price rise” haggling is going on.

Amidst all this, the Russians are reportedly negotiating with French civil shipbuilders STX and combat ship company DCNS for potential purchase of a Mistral class warship. Although referred to as the amphibious assault ship by Jane’s Fighting Ships 2009-2010, this 21600 tonne vessel has a range of 11000 nautical miles at 15 knots an hour and is capable of up to 16 attack helicopters in its deck thereby giving it enough teeth for offensive operations. If indeed Russia manages to clinch the deal for this ship (two of which are in the French fleet), then its navy would be able to play a role of “forward pressure, force projection, logistic support for the deployed force (ashore or at sea) . . . and command ship for combined operations.”

All indications suggest that the Russian Navy is keen on an early acquisition for a force multiplier mission in the ocean. As an Indian, one certainly cannot possibly have any grudge if a long-standing friend like Moscow acquires a floating airstrip from Europe. But why does Moscow not look into the need of its friendly South Asian navy with the same sense of urgency and sensitivity? Is the “price rise” really that grave as to delay the delivery of India’s maritime defence? One wonders!

The writer is an alumnus of the National Defence College of India and a Member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London.

Tribune India


..The Russians are a Super Power only second To Russia.

Even then Russia does not hide its limitation or does not feel shy to copy or import tecnology which they think is of some use.

On the other hand the Indian Navy is of British tradition change is extremly slow.

Lives under dilemma of Past grandeur.... Aimless purchases have been made just to impress Pakistan.

The very small navy of Pakistan may be waiting armed to its teeth for this white elephant Gorshkov or the other carriers & the Indian atomic sub, to at least come out of ther ports only for a salami bolly wood style in time of war..........


Indian Kora and Khukri Class guided missle destroyers are more sophisticated than anything in Pakistans surface naval arsenal.

Just the Kora class ships are enough to literally melt everything in Pakistans Navy.

Pakistans Submarine Fleet is also pathetic.

Indian 10 Indian Kilo Class Subs, 4 German HDW's, will not only sink every Sub in pakistan's fleet, but also every Merchant ship.

India can't technically compare any part of its might to Pakistan.

Pakistan is too poor, Numerically outnumbered, technologically outdone, and Logistically dead.

This author is an idiot.

^^ Indian Kora and Khukri Class guided missle destroyers? they are corvettes in IN. Only PN will call such ships destroyers. Indian destroyers are the 6800T Delhi and the upcomming Kolkata class.
Indian ship building capacity is expanding geometrically with the participation of private sector. The new Pipavav Shipyard in Gujrat is already capable of building a 65000T AC if GOI asks it to. The upcoming(2012) L&T shipyard in TN will be capable of building an entire armada every year if required. It will eventually contribute to 15% of global shipbuilding capacity.

Agreed, This author is an idiot.

India has been to focused on Pakistan but finds its own backyard to be in a mess however no one in India is gonna admit that.

By the way India submarines are outdated too, the author was highlighting lack of indiginous work on submarines. No new subs in decades, however the delayed and overbudget french subs will be made in 2012. I am sure the French are offering Pakistan better subs. Friends like them who needs ....

For Bloger No 02/03

....Indians should prove that their ships are superior..the ships which they are boosting of are Russian built ships..

moslty out of action 9 months a year out on the berth with tecnical or opporational problem.

These ships cannot support the Indian buildup.Most of these ships have been sold by the Russians on support prices to India.

You can see a Kilo( Russian Sub) waiting for rebuilt in your Dry docks for past 02 years as reported In (Asian Defence Blog)

You can check this Blog a brand new OPV built by India is sinkingout on the Goa cost(DEC09) I am not boosting like you Indians you do not read your own blog.

It seems that you Indians have some Structural problem your body does not support your brains and the only thing waging is your filthy tongue.

So besides China and India, do the people think there are any growing naval powers to keep an eye on?

So besides China and India, do the people think there are any growing naval powers to keep an eye on?

no matter how much indian navy grow it cannot become a regional power never gona be a super power.
so whats the point of spending money on something you cant achieve

>>So besides China and India, do the people think there are any growing naval powers to keep an eye on?

It is only the Chinese Navy growing fast. Indian Navy keeps an eye on its harbors and dockyards while getting its ships repaired. Indian people are being fooled around with tall claims by their leaders. May be that's good for them.

Indian Navy is already a regional power.

It can stop 90 percent of Chinas oil in the Malacca straights today, as the Indian Navy controls the Malacca straights, for which China is peeing red blood from its vaginas.

Get Real, chinky boy, in case of Any War, CHina will get raped not only from India, But from all surround countries, such as Japan, S.K, Austraila, Russia, and U.S

CHinas a joke, only despised by all its neighbours.

China was contained, even before it was regional power. Now china toy makers think they are super power ROFL

Wake Up. India already is a regional power.

It outclasses Pakistan in Naval, Air, Armed, and Logistical conflict. Even the Buget is 10 times larger than Pakistans $4 Billion.

india a regional power,,,,,
u talked about budget lets see !!!! u answer me how many ships does pakistan has and how much area pakistan has to protect and then look at the indian peninsula and IN capability..... for pakistan it has more then sufficient navy for india let me tell u need to spend more 400billion $ to protect your land!!!!! u need a minimum of 5 aircraft carriers and supporting fellt to protect the main land!!!! and tell me redional power doent mean pakistan it means the entire region pakistan is not the entire region!!!!!!

and for cutting china's routes well i believe i would love to watch that!!!!! india cutting chinas routes!!!!!!
yes u can cut there routes but can u sustain the aftermath of the action!!!!!

(Wake Up. India already is a regional power.
It outclasses Pakistan in Naval, Air, Armed, and Logistical conflict. Even the Buget is 10 times larger than Pakistans $4 Billion.)
lets analyze the statement!!!!! first air force,,,, i hope u have heard the quotaion "jack of all traits master of none"....the IAF is working on types of migs, su , jags. harries, now selecting MMRCA,,,PAKFA then lca.... u tell me if i am satisfied with one equipment ill not go for the other... IAF procurement of these much variety of aircraft will have a significant effect..... u will have to train more ground support
on every aircraft,,, getting costlier....your pilots will be burdened!!!!and an advice let the armed forces decide what they want to buy not the politicians,,,,, they go for cheaper!!!! let the airforce decide what they want to buy!!!!! things lastly ur pilot to aircraft ratio is very low!!! u have more aircrafts less pilots!!!!! international ratio is kept at for 2 aircrafts 3 pilots for maximization of sorties!!!!
and lets see u also have problems with first level trainer!!!!! u cant just put rookie pilots on BAE HAWK just on the first day!!! i am saying this because basic training plays an important role in a fighter pilots carrier..... for pakistan will be working on 3 types of aircraft in the future!!!! they have super mushak,, t37 and k8 best trainers of the world!!!!!
now comming to army..... here we are equally matched in equipment!!!!! i dont see any advantage India has Pakistan doesnt... if there is do let me know!!!!!
coming on budget u increased ur budget after the mumbai attacks for mostly targeting pays!!!! all of us knows that indian army is facing problems in induction of people in armed forces as mentioned in this forum that there manning ratio of regement are down!!!!!! and also our budget is enough for us because mainly pakistan is pointing there weopens on india!!!! whereas indian has to look againts china, bangladesh,,, myanmar,pakistan,,,etc!!!!
coming on navy,,,,, i don't think needs an aircraft carrier because the coastal area is small.... we have enough fleet to protect ourselves and to launch an aggresive stance!!!! india has to protect a bigger area and u are still under equipped to deal with any threats!!!!! yes u have enough power to dter pakistan but tell me in true fashion !!!! if chinese fleets come in indian ocean,,, will u be able to launch or protect ur main land against them!!!! there will be may airpockets from which they can infiltrate!!!!!! secondaly due to large coastal area it will be difficult to stop and detect even a small submarine!!!!! think about it with brain not emotionally!!!!! thank you

Here we go about the invincible Indian navy

Submarine repair takes forever

India's vital submarine arm struggles with dangerously low numbers, a top-end submarine has been taken out of the fleet for a repair programme.The shocking part is that the repair schedule will last 10 years. Such upgrades have previously been done overseas in two years. One could compare this to a submarine being laid comatose, at least in the case of the INS Sindhukirti, a frontline Kilo class attack submarine of the Indian Navy.It's been in dry dock at Vizag for a refit programme for close to five years now.

It seems that Hindustan Shipyards, the government-owned contractor with little experience in submarine upgrades, will take at least another five years before the submarine can be put to water again.Unavailable to the submarine-starved Navy for 10 of the 30 years of its useful life, the Sindhukirti is as good as a write off."

Only seven of India's 16 submarines are available for combat at any time.

To maintain current numbers, one submarine needs to be inducted every two years but there's been no addition since 2001.

India's only submarine-making facility in Mumbai was kept idle for 12 years.

India's underwater combat arm sinks deeper

India will be left with only nine out of its present fleet of 16 diesel-electric submarines -- 10 Russian Kilo-class, four German HDW and two virtually obsolete Foxtrot -- by 2012. The number may dip to just five by 2014-2015.

After inducting

Three French Agosta-90B submarines, with the last one PNS Hamza even having air-independent propulsion (AIP) to boost its operational capabilities, Pakistan is now looking to acquire three advanced Type-214 AIP-equipped submarines from Germany.

Pakistan's navy interested in Chinese submarines and advance naval ships

The chief of Pakistan's naval staff Noman Bashir said he looks forward to see more cooperation in the submarine field between China.

In addition to submarines, the admiral told China Daily yesterday that he has talked to Chinese officials buying bigger ships than the current F22P frigates. Pakistan ordered the F22P frigates from China in 2005 and the first one began sea trials last year. According an earlier story on the website of the People's Daily, Pakistan ordered four more F22P frigates in 2007, which means there will eventually be eight such warships in the Pakistani Navy.PN is looking for atleast 5 Chinese submarines

Pakistan Navy's growing fleet of Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft Is more advance then anything India have.

China's defense spending has increased by an average of 16.2 percent a year since 1999. It now is the second-highest in the world. The PLA's official military budget for 2009 is at $70 billion, but the U.S. published estimates show that China's military spending as high as $150 billion.

Pakistan to get USS McInerney frigate next year

United States will transfer USS McInerney frigate to Pakistan Navy following decommissioning from the U.S. Navy next year.

India Struggles to Keep Navy Afloat

The delays have forced India to refit its sole aircraft carrier -- the 50-year-old INS Viraat, which according to earlier plans should have been junked by now -- to operate for just five more years.

The irony is that, over time, Viraat's air fleet has also been substantially depleted due to accidents, which makes the ship essentially a "toothless tiger," as an anonymous army official was recently quoted as saying. In the 1980s, the Indian navy inducted roughly 30 British Sea Harriers for the 28,000-ton Viraat. More than half have been lost to crashes, with the latest going down in August in Goa, killing the pilot and resulting in the grounding of the jets pending an inquiry.

Viraat refit done, but where are the jets?

50-year-old INS Viraat, is being flogged to ensure it can operate for another five years. To make matters worse, Navy is fast running out of fighter jets to operate from its deck.

The crash of another Sea Harrier jump-jet off Goa on Friday, which killed its pilot, means Navy is left with barely eight single-seater fighters and three twin-seater trainers. Beginning 1983, Navy had inducted around 30 Sea Harriers, which take off from the angled ski-jump on INS Viraat and land vertically on its deck. But it has lost over half of them in accidents.The latest crash comes at a time when the 28,000-tonne INS Viraat is finally getting ready to become operational again after an 18-month extensive refit.

Navy grounds Sea Harrier fleet after crash

Navy has grounded its Sea Harrier fighters, which operate from the country's solitary aircraft carrier INS Viraat, as a precautionary measure after one of the jump-jets crashed last Friday.

Don’t have capability or intention to match China force for force: Indian Navy chief

Admitting that India neither has the “capability nor the intention” to match China’s military strength, Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee and Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta said .

Shortage of warships in Indian Navy

Look at the record of MDL. Its first frigate came out in 1972, the twelfth, in 2002. In short, the shipyard took 30 years to build a dozen ships. Since 2000, it has had six destroyers/frigates on order, the first of these may join the Navy in 2011 and the last, even with some miraculous increase in productivity, by 2020.

So, what is being said, in effect, is that the new frigates would come to the Navy from MDL only after 2020. The picture at GRSE is worse. This yard was asked to build three frigates in 1986, to be delivered by 1994; they were actually delivered by 2002, double the earlier time frame offered by GRSE.

French connection, déjà vu

The Pakistani Navy inducted Daphne-class submarines back in 1971, and made its mark almost immediately after its induction when the PNS/M Hangor sank INS Kukri in the 1971 Indo-PakistanI war, the first in an action of this nature since World War II. The Daphnes were followed by the Agosta 70 and later by Agosta 90 submarines, which are equipped with SM-39 Exocet subsurface-to-surface missile.

South Korea




All are way ahead of India

20 years of MiG disasters

"In the last two decades (since April 1989 and up to 26 November, 2009), 265 MiG fighter aircraft of the IAF have crashed.

A total of 96 service personnel and 44 civilians were killed in these cases," Mr Antony told the parliament in a written reply. Dubbed "flying coffins" for their frequent crashes.

only 150-160 of the over 450 single-engine MiG-21s with the IAF are still in service.

The Indian Government has issued tenders for acquisition of 126 medium multi-role combat aircrafts but the acquisition has been delayed due to time consuming procedures, which include submitting of bids, technical evaluation of proposals from global military suppliers and field trials. The first aircraft would conservatively be inducted only by 2020, according to defence ministry sources.

101 IAF pilots have applied for early retirement:Indian Defence minister A K Antony

Defence Minister AK Antony gave out the fact that 101 pilots --- most of who are highly skilled in flying fighters, choppers and transport planes --- have applied for a premature retirement.

minister said IAF had lost 13 aircraft in different crashes during the year. The list includes an An-32 transport aircraft, three MIG 27s, three MiG 21s, two Su-30MKIs in Jaisalmer, one each Mi-17 and Mi-8 along with two trainer aircraft.

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