INS Vikra­ma­ditya will be a game changer

SP's MAI - - EDITOR’S DESK - Jayant Baran­wal Publisher & Ed­i­tor-in-Chief

Af­ter pro­longed de­lays, fi­nally the su­per air­craft car­rier INS Vikra­ma­ditya (erst­while Ad­mi­ral Gor­shkov) has set sail from Rus­sia to be com­mis­sioned in the In­dian Navy. In­deed, this is go­ing to be a his­toric mo­ment for In­dian Navy which till now has only one air­craft car­rier – INS Vi­raat – which is also reach­ing the end of its use­ful ser­vice. INS Vikra­ma­ditya, which weighs 40,000 tonnes to be­come the big­gest and heav­i­est ship of the In­dian Navy is ex­pected to be a game changer.

The air­craft car­rier is ex­pected to pa­trol the In­dian Ocean early next year and it has the ca­pac­ity to carry 24 MiG-29 fighter jets and 10 he­li­copters at a time and can sail nearly 1,300 kilo­me­tres a day. In­dia, thus, joins a se­lect group of na­tions and the only one in the In­dian Ocean re­gion to op­er­ate two air­craft car­ri­ers at the same time. A third air­craft car­rier INS Vikrant, an in­dige­nous one, is un­der con­struc­tion in Kochi and is ex­pected to be com­mis­sioned in 2018-19.

With the In­dian Ocean re­gion be­com­ing highly mil­i­tarised zone, the pres­ence of two air­craft car­ri­ers on both the east­ern and western seaboards will cer­tainly en­hance safety and se­cu­rity for In­dia. This point did come up in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view we had with the Am­bas­sador of Spain in In­dia, Gus­tavo de Aris­tegui who pointed out how In­dia and Spain were mar­itime na­tions. Point­ing out how In­dia had a com­pli­cated neigh­bour­hood, he has re­it­er­ated Spain’s in­ter­est in part­ner­ing with In­dia in many spheres, par­tic­u­larly de­fence. Spain has thwarted ter­ror threats, or­gan­ised crime, il­le­gal traf­fick­ing etc and ac­cord­ing to the Am­bas­sador the il­le­gal in­tru­sions from sea which at one point had peaked to 2,50,000 in­tru­sions had now come down to a dozen, thanks to its coastal de­fence sys­tems. In­dia and Spain have a lot to gain from each other.

Away from the coast­line, we come to a con­tentious point – the line of con­trol and Pak­istan con­tin­ues to breach it. In his frank and forth­right col­umn, Lt Gen­eral (Retd) P.C. Ka­toch has dwelt on how Pak­istan has upped its ante against In­dia and Afghanistan to di­vert at­ten­tion from its ter­ror-mak­ing fac­to­ries. He has re­ferred to the re­cent video clips which show ter­ror­ists wait­ing to in­fil­trate into In­dia and dis­turb in­ter­nal se­cu­rity.

Mean­while, it is good news that fi­nally the bat­tle man­age­ment sys­tem (BMS) is reach­ing some point with the is­sual of ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est. The Gen­eral men­tions how the over­all re­quire­ment is go­ing to be colos­sal, likely to jump from ini­tial es­ti­mates of ` 23,000 crore to nearly ` 80,000 crore as it is go­ing to be fielded pan Army at the bat­tal­ion/reg­i­ment level. This would en­tail part­ner­ships with for­eign firms for ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies.

Talk­ing about part­ner­ships, there is yet another one which is see­ing fruition—the Indo-French mis­sile Maitri—a short-range sur­face-to-air mis­sile, all ready for launch and en­hanc­ing bi­lat­eral pro­gramme with In­dia’s DRDO and French MBDA. The way for­ward for In­dia in­deed is quick and solid in­di­geni­sa­tion, and at the same time part­ner­ing na­tions with ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies. We need to have a ju­di­cious mix.

Happy read­ing !

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