Saturday, December 4, 2010

Indian Navy Makes Strides In Maritime Security

Aerospace Daily-Av Week

Dec 3, 2010
NEW DELHI- The lack of inter-agency security coordination exposed during the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks resulted in the Indian navy taking numerous initiatives to strengthen security of coastal areas.

The most significant step has been the integration of all maritime stakeholders, including several state and central agencies into the coastal security matrix, according to Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Nirmal Verma.

“I am of the view that attaining awareness of the maritime domain is not a localized action to be undertaken by a single agency,” Verma said here Dec. 2 at a press conference held for Navy Day, which is celebrated on Dec. 4.

“Intelligence and information sharing has undergone a transformational change,” he continued. “There is today far better coordination, synergy and understanding among all agencies.”

There are 36 ships and submarines currently on order at Indian shipyards. These include construction of an indigenous aircraft carrier, which is “progressing satisfactorily, though with some hiccups,” Verma says. The refurbished Vikramaditya (Gorshkov) is expected to be delivered from Russia by the end of 2012. In the interim, mid-life upgrades of 13 ships have been approved.

The government also has approved the induction of four Landing Platform Dock ships, or LPDs, and six submarines under Project 75 India. The first of the two replenishment tankers is likely to arrive in India by the end of December.

The navy’s aviation wing has started inducting 16 MiG-29Ks since February, with an additional contract for 29 more fighters signed recently. Also, “we expect the first flight of the naval version of the [Light Combat Aircraft] to take place his month,” Verma says.

The navy also is in the process of procuring 16 Multi-Role Helicopters for surveillance. “Procurement of the Naval Utility Helicopter as a replacement for our Chetak fleet has been initiated,” Verma says. “The existing fleet of Sea King and Kamov helicopters is planned for a mid-life upgrade for sensor suites.”

The navy is not focusing on advanced early warning systems and is concentrating instead on Russian rotary-wing alternatives, Verma says.

The navy also has placed orders for 12 Boeing P-8I maritime patrol aircraft. “During my recent visit to the U.S. [I took time to] personally review the progress of this project,” Verma says. “These are extremely modern and capable aircraft and will enhance our surveillance, anti-surface and anti-submarine preparedness significantly.” Delivery is expected to start in January 2013.

“We have also initiated the process to acquire medium-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft to further augment our surveillance capabilities,” Verma says.

As for whether the Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (Cismoa) that India has refused to sign with the U.S. will affect access to the full capability of the aircraft, Verma says: “Our requirement, by and large, has been [fulfilled] by the End-User Monitoring Agreement signed some time back.”

“There is no doubt that by not signing Cismoa, India will not have access to full capability,” a senior navy official says. “However, geopolitics rules in government decisions, and this could be leveraged at a later date [by India] during discussions on other politically infused subjects.”

Photo: MiG-29K

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