The Indian Navy has quietly and without fuss built up a great reputation for itself as a strategic-minded service. Its plans for distant defence are the best articulated, and its procurement of naval hardware mission-appropriate, reason why the government has accorded it the pivotal role in the strategic defence of the country.
As commendable is the Navy’s role in driving the country’s agenda for self-sufficiency in armaments in the teeth of sustained efforts over the years by the bumbling Indian government with the defence ministry and its department of defence production (DPP) to undermine it.
The DPP conceives its remit as only ensuring custom for defence public sector units while trying to trip up the private sector whose built-up capacity and capability can more quickly and substantively attain for the country the goal of self-reliance, which has so far only remained rhetoric. The Navy is the only service to have had a main weapon design directorate, generating designs for 43 of the 45 warships under construction in the country.
The Navy, moreover, has prevented indigenous projects such as the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft programme from sinking, by investing in the development of a navalised variant, managing a technical consultancy with US Navy’s aviation experts to iron out design kinks and shepherding this aircraft to the prototype stage. But the singular success story and its greatest accomplishment is the strategic submarine project. Starting from scratch, it has got to a point where the basic Russian Charlie-II class nuclear-powered ballistic missile firing submarine (SSBN) design has been enhanced, which changes will be reflected in the second and third units of the Arihant-class boats, and a nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarine (SSN) as follow-on to the Akula-II class boat (INS Chakra) on lease from Russia, is in the works. Continue reading