The Indian Navy is an important part of Indian Armed Forces and helps to force into areas beyond a country's shores including protect sea lanes, transport troops or attack enemy invasion. Moreover, the presence of naval ships will deter military aggression. In terms of strength and power, Indian navy has the fifth largest Navy in the world after US, Russia, Great Britain and China. But, Indian Navy is plagued with several problems.
When it comes to strength, India has one nuclear submarine with 2 are under construction and around 6 more planned to be acquired. India has 13 conventional submarines with 6 subs are under construction and around 6 more planned. India has 2 aircraft carriers (45,000 Tons and 30,000 Tons ) with one (40,000 Tons) under construction and one (65,000 Tons) more planned. India has 10 Destroyers and 3 more under construction. India has 15 frigates with 7 more planned. Around 67,228 personnel are directly under the Indian Navy.
Delay is the perfect word, which is often synonymous with the Indian Navy. Any big ticket defence acquisition often drags for months to years in order to get approval from the political leadership and the ministry of defence. Thus, purchases of defence equipment like of multi-role helicopters, amphibious aircraft and warships are often late. Best example for delayed acquisitions is India’s decision to acquire Scorpène-class submarines from the French manufacturer DCNS. In 2005, India chose the Scorpène design; purchasing six submarines for around USD 3 billion (USD 500 million per boat). Under a technology transfer agreement, the state-owned Mazagon Docks was approved to manufacture the submarines, and deliver them between 2012 and 2016 to the Indian Navy however the project is ran four years behind schedule. Submarines were launched and included in the Indian Navy in 2017.
Aging fleet is posing a serious threat not just India, but also for the naval personnel. For example, the more recent accidents are the clear example of aging. The fire on board the INS Sindhuratna and the sinking of the INS Sindhurakshak have projected the navy’s deficient and ageing submarine fleet. No new submarines have been acquired since 2000. One except the INS Chakra, a nuclear submarine bought about a 10-year lease from Russia in 2012. Of the 13 submarines, 12 are more than 20 years old.
Delay in executing the naval projects result in huge cost escalation. For example, three important naval projects, which were to cost Rs. 9,892 crore, eventually rose to around Rs 38,855 crore, which is around four times the original cost. First among the naval project was INS Vikrant (New), the delivery schedule of the aircraft carrier has been revised from December 2010 to October 2018. But, the warship is expected to be delivered by October 2020. The original cost of the warship was Rs 3,261 crore and was revised to Rs 19,341 crore. Another example is in the case of Project 15A with Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders (MDL), Mumbai, with the delivery of three ships (INS Kolkata, INS Kochi and INS Chennai) were faced with repeated delays which lead to the original cost of Rs 3580 crore was revised to Rs 11,662 crore. Experts termed that the increased overrun has been mainly due to the increase in equipment cost and yard material, and increase of the cost of labour. One more example, is the case of Project 28 were delivery schedule of three ships—INS Kamrota, INS Kadmatt and INS Kiltan is delayed the delayed cost is touching around Rs 78,52.39 crore from Rs 3,051.2 crore.
Though Pakistan's navy cannot equate with the Indian Navy, the Chinese Navy is only neighbour which has enough firepower. China has the 2nd largest Navy in the World after the United States. It has around 11 Nuclear Submarine in active service with atleast 4 more under construction. A number of conventional submarines stands at 57 and 5 more are under construction. China has 1 Aircraft Carrier (67,000Tons) with 2 more(65,000Tons & 110,000Tons) are under construction. China has 28 Destroyers with at-least 5 more under construction. China has 46 Frigates with at-least 4 more under construction. Besides, China has recently launched its second aircraft carrier is an important for India. The new carrier is likely to be named the Shandong. Experts from defence sector, highlight the point that it would surely give China an edge for the first time in the carrier race with India that is 2-1
Delayed purchases, aging fleet and huge cost escalations are slowly emerging as serious problem in the Indian Navy, which are more severe than natural calamities. The delays have adversely impacted the exchequer leading wastage of tax payer’s money. Top policy makers must take care be taken in concluding contracts and projects. Besides, adding regular follow ups to projects. Otherwise, the precious funds of the country will continue to keep going in vain.