Naval Chief lays em­pha­sis on in­di­geni­sa­tion

Ad­mi­ral R.K. Dhowan who has been ap­pointed as the Chief of Naval Staff in an in­ter­view given to SP Guide Pub­li­ca­tions when he was the Vice Chief of the Naval Staff had said that ef­forts are on to pro­vide fur­ther im­pe­tus to the in­di­geni­sa­tion process acros


SP’s M.A.I. (SP’s): In­dian Navy for decades has pur­sued a vi­sion­ary ap­proach for tech­nol­ogy-in­ten­sive mar­itime force plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment. What mech­a­nism is adopted to cre­ate and sus­tain a three-di­men­sional, tech­nol­ogy-en­abled and net­worked-force to deal with the dy­nam­ics of evolv­ing chal­lenges?

Vice Ad­mi­ral R.K. Dhowan: In­dia is es­sen­tially a mar­itime na­tion with a nat­u­ral out­flow to­wards the seas. The re­spon­si­bil­ity of pro­tect­ing and safe­guard­ing our vast and widely dis­persed mar­itime as­sets and in­ter­ests falls squarely on the shoul­ders of ‘men in white uni­form’. Se­quen­tially thus, it be­hoves upon the In­dian Navy to en­sure that our mar­itime in­ter­ests which have vi­tal link­ages and re­la­tion­ship with the na­tion’s eco­nomic growth are al­lowed to de­velop un­hin­dered both in peace and war. To safe­guard our mar­itime in­ter­ests, the In­dian Navy op­er­ates a bal­anced force com- pris­ing an air­craft car­rier, multi-role de­stroy­ers and frigates, fleet tankers, am­phibi­ous ships and a mul­ti­tude of other avi­a­tion and sub-sur­face com­bat­ants. As a highly bal­anced mar­itime force, the In­dian Navy is ca­pa­ble of blue-wa­ter op­er­a­tions in the In­dian Ocean re­gion (IOR) and be­yond, in pur­suit of na­tional in­ter­ests. The present force lev­els of the In­dian Navy are be­ing fur­ther aug­mented to en­com­pass fu­ture tasks, as also con­fronting emer­gent chal­lenges of piracy and sea-borne ter­ror­ism in the IOR and shoul­der­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity of coastal se­cu­rity. In terms of force ac­cre­tions in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture, we are ac­quir­ing ships, sub­marines and air­craft in ac­cor­dance with our long-term plans. Force struc­ture plan­ning for the fu­ture is a com­plex process. A large num­ber of fac­tors, fu­ture sce­nar­ios, trends and in­di­ca­tors are an­a­lysed in-depth to for­mu­late the guide­lines for our ac­qui­si­tion process. The mar­itime ca­pa­bil-

ity per­spec­tive plan (MCPP), pre­pared by the In­dian Navy, aims at build­ing the force struc­ture nec­es­sary to re­spond to a vast spec­trum of re­quire­ments. The MCPP has been suit­ably en­meshed into the long-term in­te­grated per­spec­tive plan (LTIPP) of the armed forces. The blue­print of the fu­ture In­dian Navy has been charted on sel­f­re­liance and in­di­geni­sa­tion, and our pre­ferred choice of in­duct­ing ships and sub­marines has been through the indige­nous route. Cur­rently, of the 45 ships and sub­marines un­der con­struc­tion, 42 are from In­dian ship­yards. The ac­qui­si­tion pro­gramme is con­tin­u­ing apace and over the next few years we ex­pect to in­duct a wide va­ri­ety of ships, sub­marines and avi­a­tion as­sets.

SP’s: What has been the ex­pe­ri­ence on al­lo­ca­tion of req­ui­site re­sources to en­sure planned growth? Dhowan:

It has been our en­deav­our to op­ti­mally utilise the funds al­lo­cated to the In­dian Navy by stretch­ing each ru­pee to the max­i­mum and achiev­ing much more with much less. The re­quire­ment of cut­ting-edge high tech­nol­ogy equip­ment of the Navy makes it a cap­i­tal-in­ten­sive ser­vice and hence cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture, which rep­re­sents mod­erni­sa­tion and as­set build­ing ca­pa­bil­ity, de­ter­mines the fu­ture ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the In­dian Navy. Ac­qui­si­tion of ships and sub­marines be­cause of their com­plex­ity and size have pro­tracted de­vel- op­ment and con­struc­tion pe­ri­ods and there­fore, re­quire long-term com­mit­ment of funds. Fur­ther, cap­i­tal pro­cure­ments are com­plex in na­ture, and are di­vided into var­i­ous phases that in­clude iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of ar­eas re­quir­ing ca­pa­bil­ity en­hance­ment, anal­y­sis of ef­fec­tive­ness of costs and sched­ules and prepa­ra­tion of real­is­tic es­ti­mates and timely projections. Fur­ther, some of the over­rid­ing fac­tors which dic­tate naval fund re­quire­ments for the fu­ture are ad­dress­ing ca­pa­bil­ity gaps which ex­ist in the Navy, and at­tain­ing the cor­rect mix of force lev­els that would pro­vide the Navy with a cred­i­ble com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity.

SP’s: While in­di­geni­sa­tion of sys­tems and equip­ment re­main the cor­ner­stone of In­dian Navy’s thrust, what is your as­sess­ment of our de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties? Dhowan:

The In­dian Navy has whole­heart­edly sup­ported in­di­geni­sa­tion pro­grammes in con­so­nance with our over­all na­tional vi­sion of sus­tained growth and self-re­liance. It is a mat­ter of sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ment that the mod­erni­sa­tion pro­gramme of the Navy is fo­cused to­wards indige­nous war­ship con­struc­tion and is largely driven by In­dian ship­yards and in­dus­try. Con­se­quently, we are one of the few coun­tries in the world hav­ing the ca­pa­bil­ity to pro­duce a wide va­ri­ety of war­ships, rang­ing from an air­craft car­rier to fast at­tack craft and sub­marines. The re­cently in­ducted in­dige­nously built Shiva­lik class stealth frigates have demon­strated the ca­pa­bil­ity of de­fence ship­yards to deliver qual­ity ships. Our quest for in­di­geni­sa­tion has re­sulted in pub­lic sec­tor ship­yards de­vot­ing their ca­pa­bil­ity and ca­pac­ity to­wards war­ship and sub­ma­rine con­struc­tion.

How­ever, we still have some way to go in match­ing up to the global stan­dards in re­spect of “build pe­ri­ods”. Our ship­yards need to adopt mod­ern meth­ods of ship con­struc­tion such as ‘mod­u­lar con­struc­tion’ and ‘in­te­grated con­struc­tion’ to shorten build pe­ri­ods. Ship­yards also need to fur­ther en­hance their de­sign ca­pa­bil­i­ties in or­der to be more com­pet­i­tive and ca­pa­ble.

SP’s: What is your per­spec­tive on deal­ing with in­duc­tion of tech­nolo­gies from di­verse sources adding new di­men­sion and chal­lenges to the ex­ist­ing equip­ment pol­icy? Dhowan:

The In­dian Navy is evolv­ing into a ver­sa­tile and po­tent force, ca­pa­ble of a va­ri­ety of op­er­a­tions rang­ing from coastal se­cu­rity to blue-wa­ter op­er­a­tions. To meet the re­quire­ments of these roles, a quan­tum jump in in­duc­tion of tech­nolo­gies as­so­ci­ated with stealth de­sign of plat­forms, more ca­pa­ble sen­sors and well-net­worked com­bat man­age­ment sys­tems is in­escapable. There is no ‘one-stop’ so­lu­tion for the plethora of tech­nol­ogy that the Navy would need to im­bibe and ab­sorb. The lev­er­ag­ing of new tech­nolo­gies also poses chal­lenges in terms of main­te­nance and up­keep. To­wards this, the skills of our work­force needs to be con­stantly honed, in­clud­ing sub­ject spe­cific, and ver­ti­cal spe­cialised train­ing. With the in­duc­tion of emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies, the sup­port in­fra­struc­ture is also set to grow by leaps and bounds. Fur­ther, in­duc­tion of new tech­nolo­gies also pro­vides ad­e­quate op­por­tu­ni­ties to the In­dian in­dus­try to aug­ment the Navy’s ca­pa­bil­ity in niche ar­eas.

SP’s: On ca­pac­ity aug­men­ta­tion and in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment front what are the plans for the In­dian Navy? Dhowan:

Pri­mar­ily, our fo­cus has been to aug­ment ca­pa­bil­ity through in­duc­tion of mod­ern plat­forms and weapons and sen­sors. For in­stance, air­borne mar­itime sur­veil­lance and en­hance­ment of air de­fence ca­pa­bil­ity are is­sues that are go­ing to re­ceive def­i­nite im­pe­tus. Ad­di­tion­ally, ef­forts to in­duct as­sets and de­velop suit­able in­fra­struc­ture to aug­ment forces avail­able for low in­ten­sity mar­itime op­er­a­tions (LIMO) and pro­tec­tion of off-shore as­sets and coastal se­cu­rity tasks will also re­ceive close at­ten­tion. Fo­cus is also be­ing given to progress in­duc­tion of plat­forms in or­der to achieve a bal­anced ‘force mix’ for roles, mis­sions and ob­jec­tives in our pri­mary ar­eas of in­ter­est and fa­cil­i­tate ‘out of area’ op­er­a­tions. Sig­nif­i­cant at­ten­tion is also be­ing paid to aug­ment and build tech­ni­cal and sup­port in­fra­struc­ture for main­te­nance of new in­duc­tion plat­forms and un­der­take re­pairs of state-of-the-art equip­ment be­ing in­ducted in the ser­vice. Amongst the other ob­jec­tives, the im­pe­tus re­quired to at­tract and re­tain first-rate per­son­nel while work­ing to­wards ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion of man­ning poli­cies is an­other fo­cus area.

On the in­fra­struc­ture front, the last few years have wit­nessed a sus­tained fo­cus on en­hanc­ing our op­er­a­tional, tech­ni­cal and ad­min­is­tra­tive in­fra­struc­ture. Phase-I of the naval base at Kar­war, un­der Project Se­abird, has been com­pleted. We are now pur­su­ing the next phase of the project, which caters to the in­fra­struc­ture to ac­com­mo­date additional ships, sub­marines, and sup­port craft planned to be based there. Spe­cial fo­cus is also be­ing ac­corded to de­velop our in­fra­struc­ture and fa­cil­i­ties in the An­daman and Ni­co­bar and Lak­shad­weep and Mini­coy Is­lands, which act as ex­tended arms of In­dia in the Bay of Ben­gal and the Ara­bian Sea.

The seas around us are gain­ing new-found im­por­tance as each day goes by and there is no doubt that the cur­rent century is the ‘century of the seas’. It is there­fore, im­per­a­tive for the In­dian Navy to have multi-di­men­sional forces ca­pa­ble of op­er­at­ing across the spec­trum of op­er­a­tions in the mar­itime do­main.

INS Shiva­lik

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