This issue of SP’s Naval Forces coincided with the award on islands in the South China Sea (SCS) in favour of the Philippines. While the genesis of disputes in the SCS dates back to 1946 when China laid claim to almost the entire sea area by drawing the famous ‘Nine-dash Line’, SCS literally started boiling with frequent disputes flaring up between the littoral countries. Due to continuous harassment by China, Philippines filed proceedings under Annex VII of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) during 2013, to settle its outstanding dispute with China.
China’s stand towards the arbitration has been one of defiance and has refused to recognise the Arbitration and its Award. Immediately after the verdict, China declared the Award as null and void, which will strategically disadvantage adversary navies, allow Beijing to exercise a whip hand over global and Asian trade, and, otherwise obtain a mere closum (closed sea) that countries will be able to access only at Beijing’s sufferance.
China is notionally narrowing SCS by creating an obstacle course of the forcibly annexed territory belonging to weak states, such as Philippines’ Scarborough Shoal in the Spratly Islands chain, and by creating ‘artificial’ islands. India also has a stake in it due to the passage of trade and joint venture with Vietnam for exploration of oil in their EEZ which is part of SCS. Thus the leading article is on SCS so that our readers can understand the ramifications of SCS followed by another article on the same subject.
The article on missiles embedded on warships covers both AD and anti-ship. Cruise missiles have become weapons of choice at sea because of their ability to fly close to the sea surface at very high speeds (sub- sonic/supersonic). Read all about in a well researched article in this issue. The article on Fleet AD gives out contours of air defence required to defend a fleet from the air. It has evoked interest due the recent successful trials of medium-range SAM (MRSAM) and long-range SAM (LRSAM). Both these projects are a joint venture between India’s DRDO and Israel’s IAI. LRSAM was successfully fired from INS Kolkata in December 2015. It is understood that LRSAM has a destruction range of about 70 km and detection range of 100 km. With LRSAM, India has achieved layer one and two for Fleet AD. The third layer will need missiles with ranges up to 400 km. We are certain that the way the Indian Navy is modernising, layer three for its fleet defence will be achieved in the near future. Then there is a brief status report on Indian Navy’s frigate in the backdrop of media reporting on Russia’s offer of three frigates of Project 11356 class. If this proposal goes through then it will be a win-win situation for India as well as Russia. Navy is a ‘happening’ Service with progress on multiple fronts like the planned future induction of Fleet Support ships, LPDs, special operations vehicles, mine countermeasures vessels and upgrade of Kamov-28 helicopter. As usual, this issue is wrapped up with the News in Brief and naval postings. Happy reading to all you discerning readers.