Indo-Pacific is not region of top priority to the Indian Navy. Its main concern is the Indian Ocean Region. Admiral Sunil Lanba, the chief of naval staff (CNS), however said, “If the need be, we have sea legs for it.” But the main contention is about the ‘near abroad’ and the Indian Ocean. Lanba was speaking on the eve of the annual Navy week that has kickstarted by the annual press conference.
At this moment there are 40 naval ships, four submarines and 12 naval aircrafts are deployed at various parts the region. This reflects the growing blue water capabilities of the navy. “The ships are deployed to shape a favourable environment for our commerce and diplomacy,” Adm Lanba said.
Indian Navy has even undertaken hydrographic surveys in East African country of Tanzania and and the Indian Ocean island nation Mauritius. “The Indian navy wishes to be the maritime security provider of the region.”
On the issue of the South China Sea, the CNS gave the official line of the of the central government that it wishes the United Nations Convention on the Law of Seas (UNCLOS) is maintained.
He still did not touch upon the Hague-based International Court of Justice judgment. Significantly, the Chinese say skirting the Hague judgment that ‘code of conduct’ needs to be evolved on the access to the Sea.
In terms of the domestic supply line of ships, while Lanba made clear that he is not going to the talk of the strategic assets (shorthand hand INS Arihant and INS Chakra), he was clear that INS Vikrant will be inducted very soon. In fact a senior official source said, “The government has already given approval for recruitment of 1.600 personnel for indigenously built aircraft carrier.”
Interestingly, the CNS revealed that operational deployment at the Gulf of Aden is coordinated with PLA Navy and the Japanese navy.
On a note of seeming sadness, the naval officials clarified that the LCA Naval version has not quite made the cut and is being rejected lock, stock and barrel by the navy for its current and future Carrier aircraft requirements. This is despite the navy being the only service positioning personnel at the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) at the design stage and at HAL for prototype productions. It had funded the project to the extent of about RS 1400 crores.