India’s navy is readying to receive INS Kalvari, an attack submarine later this month as part of major steps in rebuilding its depleted underwater combat forces.
The commissioning later this month of this Scorpene class submarine is a major achievement in India’s move to rebuild its depleted underwater fighting force, and the first of six on order, Bloomberg reported Friday.
The move comes in the wake of China’s military expanding its fleet to nearly 60 submarines, compared to India’s 15.
A Chinese Yuan-class diesel-powered submarine entered the Indian Ocean in May and is still hiding, said an Indian naval officer.
The opening of China’s first naval base in July at Djibouti at the western end of the Indian Ocean also the communist country’s recent submarine sales to Pakistan and Bangladesh and a visit last year of a Chinese nuclear-powered submarine to Karachi, indicate how unready India’s navy is to meet underwater challenges.
"The lack of long-term planning and procurement commitment in defense acquisition plans can be considered tantamount to negligence” by the Indian government, said Pushan Das, a research fellow at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation’s National Security Program.
India needs to “counter increasing PLA-N activities in the region," he said, referring to the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The government had ordered six French-made Scorpene submarines in 2005 at a cost of 236 billion rupees. The submarines are being built by the state-owned defense shipyard Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd. in collaboration with France’s Naval Group.
The government has also initiated a program to build six more diesel submarines. Further, the government has also sent information requests to six different manufacturers in Germany, France and Russia, among others. The project is reportedly worth about 500 billion rupees.