Thursday, October 6, 2022

‘Indian Navy On Course For Indigenisation: VAdm SN Ghormade, VCNS Speaks To IA&D

Kamal Shah

By Kamal Shah

India’s 36th Vice Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral SN Ghormade exclusively speaks to IA&D’s Editorial Director Kamal Shah on the Indian Navy’s indigenisation efforts, maritime security & its commitment to supporting the Blue Economy.

Q. Considering current security environment, how is the Indian Navy’s preparation for the future?

Ans: It is an honour and privilege to speak to you on the Naval Perspective on our preparation for Future. As you are aware that Military technology has been evolving at a rapid pace with enormous implications for nations’ war-fighting capability. The Indian Navy embarked on a self-reliance and indigenisation road map early to modernise the Navy and remain combat ready and future proof. It is evident from the past, and ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, that there is no other alternative than Atmanirbharata. India’s maritime security challenges continue to grow, and the navy continuously needs to modernise and maintain its footprint in the maritime domain in the Area of Operation and beyond to ensure peace and stability in the region. The Navy has a long-term perspective for indigenous technology development based on a sustainable financial strategy. We have identified key capability-focus areas which we need from our R&D agencies and Indian industry in a time-bound manner.  

Visit to MDL to review Naval Ship and Submarine building Projects; Photo Courtesy Indian Navy

Q. How is Indian Navy approaching for Indigenisation and Self-Reliance for its capability development and modernisation?

Ans: Indian Navy has no doubt that we need to fight to win and fight future wars with Indian Equipment, but we need to pole vault to achieve the capabilities required to match the pace of advancing Niche technologies. Our own industrial and technological capabilities are, therefore, of great importance. To facilitate design & development by industries, IN has endeavoured to provide long-term visibility to the sector through roadmap & vision documents. Sensing the emerging trend towards unmanned systems, the ‘Integrated Unmanned Roadmap for IN’ was released by the Hon’ble Raksha Mantri in Oct 21.  ‘SWAVLAMBAN’- IN’s indigenisation plan- was released by Hon’ble RM in Aug 20 & has been uploaded on IN’s website for industry. A core group has been formed to progress the indigenisation as per the plan & formulate a long-term sustenance plan. In addition, recently promulgated Naval Aviation Indigenisation Roadmap (Apr 2022) and Technological Perspective Capability Roadmap of 2018 provide a single-reference point for Indian Navy’s requirements for the next decade. 

As a short-term plan, IN maintains a list of over 380 items on the ‘srijandefence’ portal which are envisaged to be indigenised within the next three years. We have received overwhelming response from the industry based on this database, and have completed indigenisation of more than 100 items in the last 18 months.

To have a focused approach, we also have developed detailed “Indigenisation Roadmaps” for the equipment/ systems onboard our ex-import platforms i.e our Aircraft Carrier Vikramaditya, Talwar Class ships, P-75 submarines and Tankers, so as to complete our self-reliance vision.

Q. I have been told that Navy has been the torchbearer for ‘Make in India’ among all the three Services. How much of success Indian Navy (IN) has achieved in the goal of Indigenisation up till now? 

Ans: Indigenisation and self-reliance have been key part of the Naval perspective plan from the very beginning. We have been fortunate to be the first to implement new GoI initiatives, policies and accordingly, Indian Navy has been the lead service to conclude the contract for development of first Make-II project of Deep Sea Side Scan Sonar Towing Winch in 2022. Also, Indian Navy was fortunate to be the first among the three Services, to conclude the contract for Surface Surveillance Radars, with ToT from a foreign vendor, under the Buy and Make (Indian) Category. The success has been replicated with 3D C/D Radar and 12.7 mm gun system.

More than 130 Ships have been built in Indian Shipyards. We have also achieved indigenisation of more than 90 % in Float, 60 % in Move and over 50 % in Fight (Weapon) matrix. Out of 41 Ships on order currently, 39 are being built in India, which includes advanced and complex platforms like indigenous construction of Aircraft Carrier, Submarines and Destroyer. AoN also exists for 47 ships to be built in India. It is pertinent to note that since 2014, 78 % of AoN and 68 % of contracts (by value) were accorded to Indian Vendors. 

Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-1) Leaving Kochi harbour for Trials; Photo Courtesy Indian Navy

You will be happy to note that till date, IN has indigenised over 3400 items, which include over 2000 machinery and electrical spares, over 1000 aviation spares and over 250 weapon spares. This list would continue to grow.

Here, I would like to highlight that this unyielding emphasis on indigenisation and self-reliance ploughs back a significant portion of the Navy’s budget into the Indian economy and accrues numerous downstream benefits like employment generation and up-skilling the work force. Further, number of these technologies have a dual-purpose use for betterment of our society.

Q  How would you rate the performance of Indian Navy in progress of innovation cases such as innovation in Defence Excellence (iDEX), Government funded  Make I & Technology Development Fund (TDF) and Industry funded Make  II cases etc.? 

Ans.  A total of five Make–I projects, are being pursued by the Indian Navy under the Make I  model schemes. AIP of Hon’ble RM has been accorded for these projects. Additionally, IN has conjoined three projects with other services to promote indigenisation of niche technology under these schemes. Currently, we are in the final stages of identifying and contracting suitable Industry Partners for long-term engagement for these projects. 

As far as iDEX cases are concerned, Navy is progressing 19 problem statements through 30 start-ups. Out of a total of 30 start-ups, contract has been concluded with 22 Start-ups & development of prototypes are in progress. Another 19 schemes are being progressed under TDF (Technology Development Fund) for the development of niche technology through MSMEs and Start-ups. A total of 20 Make II cases (Industry Funded), with the focus on indigenous development of critical equipment and spares, are also being progressed.

 Product development under NIIO; Photo Courtesy Indian Navy

In addition, under our Revenue budget itself, we are progressing indigenisation specifically focused on “import substitution” for our existing inventory. Currently, we have multiple projects running at all levels – from Fleet Units and Yards to Commands and Naval Headquarters, with the singular aim to maintain combat worthiness of our platforms indigenously.

Q. With ongoing indigenisation drive how much of import reduction Navy is likely to achieve?

Ans: Here, I would like to address a common misconception related to Indigenisation drive, that it is associated only with import reduction. I firmly believe that Indigenisation and self-reliance are more than just minimising imports. They are positive concepts which include promoting and enabling national research, development and manufacturing sectors to fulfil their mandate so that the country does not have to look elsewhere for major weapons and defence systems for want of technological capabilities. Therefore, self-reliance is also a key driver for modernisation of Armed Forces. To have an unassailable edge over the adversary, the technology readiness level of Domestic Defence Industries is being developed appropriately to ensure a diverse enough industrial base to develop systems based on emerging technologies in an affordable manner for the Armed Forces. Further, from the industry’s standpoint, pursuing self-reliance acts as a key enabler for industrial development allowing for smooth absorption of technology, upskilling the workforce, stimulating ancillary industries, etc.

Q. How is Indian Navy supporting MSMEs, Start-ups and small Private Industries to promote Self- Reliance in Defence Sector?

Ans: You are aware that the major share of IN’s Capital Budget is spent on shipbuilding. The diverse equipment fitted onboard ships brings out opportunities for MSMEs for the development & life cycle sustenance of this equipment. Thousands of MSMEs are involved with the shipbuilding projects for the development of onboard equipment, which has helped create thousands of jobs & set up a complete industrial ecosystem for MSMEs. In this regard, it may be interesting to note that statistics show that the multiplier effect of one worker employed in a shipyard is approximately 6.4 on ancillary industries. In simpler terms, it would mean that for every job created for construction of a Naval ship, approximately 6.4 new jobs are created in the ancillary industry. 

Under the GoI’s Make-in-India initiatives, viz Make-II, iDEX and TDF schemes, we are currently engaged with more than 50 MSMEs/ Startups for a variety of projects pertaining to development of niche defence technologies. These projects are important to us, and therefore we have formed dedicated teams for constant hand-holding of these MSMEs/ Startups throughout the development process.

The Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO) & Technology Development and Acceleration Cell (TDAC) of the Navy actively engage with private industry to innovate & indigenise naval systems. Further, given the complexity & technology-intensive nature of naval systems, enhanced interaction through NIIO with private sector has been pursued relentlessly to form a partnership model rather than a mere customer-supplier relationship.

Monthly interactions with SIDM through NIIO are conducted so that industry is aware of the Navy’s emergent needs with an approach to establish Indian industry partners for indigenous capability development. With a long-term vision to undertake indigenisation holistically, from ‘Conceptualisation to trials and induction’, we have setup an umbrella organisation called Centre for Indigenisation and Self-Reliance (CISR) at Coimbatore at Defence Industrial Corridor (DIC) to accelerate the growth of private domestic manufacturers. This has become functional from 01 Apr 22 and will closely interact with the Industrial Corridors towards fulfilling IN’s indigenisation needs. 

We are also closely associated with the National Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (NICDC) under NITI Aayog, to synergise our efforts in tandem with the national vision, thereby taking advantage of the planned industrial corridors.

Assessing the Autonomous Boat under development by MSMEs; Photo Courtesy Indian Navy

Q. How is Indian Navy’s engagement with DRDO in Research, Design and Development of Niche Technologies?  

Ans: Towards acquisition of any niche capability, Joint involvement of R&D agencies and DcPPs (Development cum Production Partner) right from the initial stages of Design & Development and till technology realisation is essential. Alignment between requirements of Services and focus of R&D is an area which we are pursuing for the synergised development of capability. In short, all out efforts are in the direction of developing technology together through synergy to yield the right results is what we are pursuing. With close involvement of DRDO, we have been able to Design, Develop and start indigenous production of SONARS, Torpedoes, Rocket Launchers, SATCOM & EW Equipment, Missiles, Torpedo Decoy System, Anti-Submarine Warfare Rockets, Combat Management System, Software Defined Radios, Network Encryption Devices, Inertial Navigation system for S/M, Link II Communication System, Main Batteries for Submarine, Mine Laying Equipment, Distress Sonar System, components of missiles and torpedoes etc. 

Indian Navy has now forward deployed user inputs through NPMT (Naval Project Management Teams) at cluster HQs of DRDO. Presently, two such NPMT (Missile and Strategic Systems) and NPMT (Naval Systems and Materials cluster) are already functional. These have interfaced with the DRDO labs and their Development cum Production Partners (DcPP) to provide user inputs at every stage to 15 futuristic Technologies and 100 plus DRDO projects underway for development of Indian Navy’s combat capability. Timely induction of future technological solutions would ensure that they are still in vogue when we require them. This is a critical expectation of the Armed Forces i.e induction of new technologies without time and cost overruns.

 DRDO developed Product being handed over to Indian Navy: Photo Courtesy Indian Navy

Q. What endeavours are being made to promote Private Defence Industry and ensuring that they have level playing field with DPSUs?

Ans: Navy believes that the goal of self-reliance can be achieved faster with the greater participation from Private Industry. Accordingly, a new section to the shipbuilding chapter of DAP 2020 has been added to facilitate construction of Complex warships on a competitive basis with the participation of Indian private industries. To support private industry & make equal opportunities, IN has made available its facilities for testing, trials & tuning of equipment by the Private Industry during development stage.  Furthermore, over 40 private manufacturers are engaged with various projects in the Make & iDEX Schemes. Inclusion of at least one Development cum Production Partner from private sector to develop DRDO projects has ensured level playing field amongst DPSUs & private industry. Towards this a minimum order quantity to obtain value for money is ensured. The endeavour would become more viable if there were Pipeline Orders to the industry that would also bring in reduced time and cost in the entire process.  

Q.  How has been the Indian Navy’s journey of indigenous Warship building?

Ans: The bulwark of our indigenisation effort has been Indian Navy’s shipbuilding programme, which started on a moderate note with INS Ajay, the first indigenously built ship being delivered to the Navy by M/s GRSE, Kolkata in 1961. Over the years, Navy’s design capability has matured through the increasingly complex design milestones of the Godavari, the Brahmaputra, Khukri and the potent Delhi Class destroyers. 

Kolkata Class Destroyers, Shivalik class Stealth Frigates, Kamorta class Corvettes and the Kalvari Class submarines, testify to a quantum jump in our indigenous shipbuilding process and are the latest world class platforms to join from our shipyards with increased Indigenous content (IC). In the case of Kamorta Class Corvettes, IC up to 90% has been achieved.

Platforms across the spectrum, from Aircraft Carrier to submarines, stealth destroyers, frigates to corvettes, are all being constructed in our country, which is a matter of great pride. it is heartening that ship & submarine building projects such as the IAC, Visakhapatnam Class destroyers, Nilgiri Class & Tushil Class frigates, ASW SWCs (Shallow Water Craft), Survey Vessels (Large) & Kalvari Class submarines are being constructed in Indian shipyards.  This is testimony to the resolve of our nation & the IN towards Atmanirbharta. It is also heartening to note the rising participation of the private shipbuilding industry in shaping naval self-reliance. 

Launch of P15B ship (INS Visakhapatnam) at MDL; Photo Courtesy Indian Navy

The IN has also been focusing on ‘Atmanirbharta’ by developing indigenous equipment, systems, sensors, & weapons to be used in indigenous shipbuilding & modernisation. Such investments have significant downstream benefits for the defence ecosystem, especially the shipyards and the associated ancillary industries, where thousands of MSMEs are involved with the shipbuilding projects. Naval investment, especially in shipbuilding, has resulted in indigenous development of vast spectrum of technologies and products starting from fundamental pumps to high end complex weapon systems.

Q. Where is India right now on the shipbuilding technology curve in terms of design & construction? Have we fully switched to modular construction?

Ans: The shipbuilding processes in India are world-class & have produced quality ships for the nation. Constant efforts have been made by IN & shipyards to imbibe new techniques & technologies from leading shipyards in the world. Significant steps have been taken by Indian shipbuilders to leverage Virtual Reality Technology, including setting up of state-of-the-art VRC, which is being extensively used for review of composite layouts & analysis.

 Integrated construction (modular construction) technique is being implemented on P17A ships. In integrated construction methodology, outfitting is a continuous process starting right from unit/block level. Accordingly, most production activities shift from afloat to slipway to workshops with consequent higher productivity, enhanced quality & lower costs. This approach is expected to reduce build periods. 

With government initiatives like Make in India, the foundation for building a strong base of Indian vendors has already been laid. New policies are being formulated by the government to promote & support growth of the shipbuilding industry to improve indigenous ecosystem.

Modular Construction of P17A Frigate at MDL; Photo Courtesy Indian Navy

Q.  In the Fight segment, where we deal with the weapon systems, we still seem to be lagging behind?  

Ans: Significant improvements have been achieved since 2014 in indigenisation in all three (float, move & fight) segments of warship building in India. For instance, in the recently commissioned INS Visakhapatnam, we have achieved 100% indigenous content in Float segment, 81% indigenous content in Move segment & 59% indigenous content in Fight segment. 

As compared to earlier P15 ships, with predominantly imported weapons & sensors, Visakhapatnam has the BrahMos missile system, SRGM made by BHEL Haridwar, ITTL & IRL made by L&T; & air surveillance radar & SAM System manufactured by BEL. These examples indicate the progress achieved in the Fight category. This effort by IN for increased indigenisation will continue. It can be further enhanced with a larger number of ships to create a good business case of adequate volumes, which is essential for Indian industry.

Brahmos Missile Launch from INS Ranvir: Photo Courtesy Indian Navy

Q. How can the Public-Private Partnership model contribute to efficiency in warship building?

Ans:  Public-private partnership is being utilised to enhance shipbuilding capacity in India and to reduce the build period. Public-private partnerships would help overcome capacity constraints and encourage sharing skill sets through cross involvement. To meet the Naval requirement of Time bound delivery, GRSE has concluded a separate contract with L&T to construct four ASW Shallow Watercraft and Three Survey Vessels (Large). Similarly, GSL has concluded a contract with Chowgule Shipyard for large scale vessel construction. Encouraging Government shipyards to involve smaller shipyards, to whom the mega blocks are being outsourced in design activities, will develop the capabilities of smaller shipyards in the long term. A consortium of shipyards to contribute towards National shipbuilding effort is the need of the hour. These are good beginnings and these steps are being encouraged to build the capacity of private shipyards and enhance shipbuilding capacity in country.

Launch of sixth P75 Submarine (Vaghsheer) at MDL; Photo Courtesy Indian Navy

Q. The GoI has made provisions for the government-funded Make-I scheme. What is the progress made by the Indian Navy in pursuing projects under these schemes?

Ans: A total of five projects are being pursued by the Indian Navy under the Make I model schemes. AIP of Hon’ble RM has been accorded for these projects. Additionally, IN has conjoined three projects with other services to promote indigenisation of niche technology under these schemes. Currently, we are in the final stages of identifying and contracting suitable Industry Partners for long-term engagement for these projects. 

Q. The IN has extensively engaged with academia for innovative solutions. Please tell us about the steps taken so far.

Ans: The NIIO was inaugurated by the Hon’ble RM in August 2020. On an average, more than two IPR applications have been filed by naval personnel every month since the launch of NIIO. Many dual use products have also already been transferred to the MSMEs for mass production. Deep tech start-ups are recognised as ‘Innovation Industry Partners’ & are provided handholding to better understand naval requirements. 

The IN STEP (Indian Naval Students’ Technical Engagement Programme), under NIIO, engages young minds in premier educational institutions by offering online internships. You will be happy to know that the first IN STEP open competition, with three problem statements, was launched this month.  This is being organised in partnership with SIDM and BharatShakti.in. The solutions for the naval problems which are proposed by the participating students can thus be taken to the industry through the SIDM. The winning students shall be taken to visit ships and submarines in addition to spending a ‘day at sea’ with the Navy!

In addition to the student engagements, we have also established institutional linkages with academic institutes such as IIT Delhi and Mumbai, Rashtriya Raksha University and the National Forensics Sciences University to name just a few. A number of joint patent applications have been filed with IIT Mumbai as a result of collaborative research. We also try and facilitate research at academic institutes and provide help where required. Again to take an example, just this week permission has been given to IIT Madras to conduct trials of systems being developed by them at INS Rajali. Recently, a policy change was implemented which permits naval officers to take lectures at universities as an Honorary ‘Adjunct Faculty’. This was the result of some universities themselves approaching us stating that their students will benefit by interaction with naval personnel. The Officer in Charge TDAC has also been permitted to accept the honorary designation of Chief Advisor Defence Innovation at the Rashtriya Raksha University and works closely with them on matters regarding defence innovation.

All these may be small steps by themselves but we believe that they all help build an ecosystem of innovation.

Q. Tell us about the role played by NIIO to encourage innovation and development of Defence Ecosystem.

Ans: The NIIO provides a flexible & accessible interface for academia & industry with IN capability development apparatus. TDAC – the executive arm of this organisation explores niche innovative technological solutions that can be adopted for combat capability enhancement. This small & agile empowered team brings the academia, industry & in-house innovators on a single platform & plugs the innovative solutions with the navy’s capability development & procurement structure. To take advantage of rapidly developing technology in the commercial world, there is a need to improve interface with industry & academia.

I have already covered NIIO engagement with the academia through IN STEP and other schemes. As far as the industry is concerned, round-the-year engagement between the IN & SIDM using the on-line ‘CII Hive Platform’ was started by NIIO in Oct 21 & is being undertaken on the last Friday of every month. We have also been interacting with the MSMEs through ‘Industry Yatras’ where a team of officers visits various states and interacts with the industry.

We also have MoUs with Industrial clusters and incubation centres and interact with the industry in these clusters to make them aware of the naval requirements. The MoUs with Uttar Pradesh Expressway Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) which oversees the industrial corridor and the ‘Maker’s Village’ at Kochi were signed on the very day of NIIO launch. Similar MoUs have subsequently been signed with other organisations as well.

IN has identified and designated the deep-tech industry as IIPs (Innovation Industry Partners). MoUs have been signed with these deep tech industry partners to facilitate visits & interaction with field units to enhance awareness of IIPs towards better appreciation of naval problem statements. As on date six deep tech firms have been designated as IIPs. These relate to drones (aerial & underwater), autonomous vessels/vehicles, EW systems, AI etc.

Q 14. What steps are being taken towards achieving indigenisation in naval aviation?

Ans: Indian Naval Aviation has formed IICs (In-house Indigenisation Committees) at Kochi, Goa & Coimbatore to address the indigenisation issues. The IICs would be handling indigenisation of spares for aircraft, induction of general-purpose aircraft items (not aircraft specific) & for ‘indigenous repairs’. In addition to the above, the NLCs (Naval Liaison Cells) located at various locations across India have been nominated as ‘indigenisation cells’. Broad guidelines are being adopted by IN to decide on selection of items for indigenisation/indigenous development of items/equipment. 

Indigenous ALH participating in Exercise; Photo Courtesy

Q. What constitutes IN’s outreach program to private lead industries?

Ans: Much impetus has been given towards participation in private industries for defence production. Private industries first hopped onto stepping stones with the development of lower technological solutions, such as indigenised anti-submarine rocket launchers & torpedo tubes by L&T & Mahindra Defence in early 2000s. Since then, the IN has come a long way in engaging private industries for defence production. Surface radar SSR by NISIL, 3D-air surveillance radar by Tata Power SED & integrated anti-submarine defence suite by Mahindra Defence are few of the success stories of capability development through private industry.

 Q. What role do you envisage for the part of the IN in supporting the blue economy?

Ans: You would be aware that recent technological developments are making deep sea mining economically feasible and permits us to harness the poly-metallic nodules to mine rare earths. The vision for India in 2030, enunciated in Feb 2019 by GoI outlines Blue Economy as one of the ten core dimensions of economic growth. Blue Economy at present contributes 4% of our GDP – and there is much more the nation can do in this domain. IN data analysis of trade trends in IOR shows that 13000-15000 vessels operate in IOR per day. Therefore, it is imperative to sustain a tranquil environment in IOR by ensuring maritime security to support the blue economy. Thus, the IN intends to keep the blue economy under the four action lines aligned with the IN’s role i.e. military, diplomatic, constabulary & benign. The Indian Navy continues to be the Nation’s instrument to maintain regional peace and stability essentially required for unhindered economic growth of the nation. 

VBSS (Visit Board Search and Seizure) Team onboard Indian Navy Warship; Photo Courtesy Indian Navy

Q. What are the Maritime Security challenges which Indian Navy has to navigate for the protection and support of Blue Economy?

Ans: The importance of maritime safety & security activities is pronounced especially in the IOR, given the region’s particular vulnerabilities to human & natural disasters. These vulnerabilities include many shipping ‘chokepoints’ & coastal communities at risk from the increased likelihood of natural disasters associated with climate change, including low lying small island developing states like Seychelles, Maldives & Mauritius. We are also vulnerable to non-traditional threats like piracy and armed robbery, contraband smuggling, IUU fishing, drug/ human trafficking, international terrorism, illegal immigration, etc. 

Maritime Domain Awareness plays a key role in detecting maritime threats & developing strategies to avoid, mitigate or respond effectively to these threats and, in turn, protect the economic & natural assets which underpin the Blue economy. The data gathered by the navies through these activities also provides critical information relevant to the blue economy, including weather & oceanic conditions, bathometric & oceanographic data & vessel tracking. This data, much of which is shared with industry & across jurisdictions, gives reliable & accurate information to assist maritime sectors in planning & managing their business activities & offers insights into potential new opportunities for ocean-based economic development. Navies, particularly the IN, have diversified their activities into non-traditional roles. Maritime security operations are often central to disaster response, search & rescue operations & marine incidents, such as oil spills or accidents at sea. In this regard, they play an important role in protecting human life & property & environmental health.

Q. How is the IN collaborating with other IOR countries?

Ans: Several IOR nations’ limited capacity & capability underscores the need for a collaborative approach to maritime security amongst various national, regional & international stakeholders to uphold the rule of law. In this context, there are many enablers that, to my mind, are critical for achieving practical maritime cooperation in support of the blue economy. 

INS Tarangini, a Sail Training Ship of Indian Navy participating in Training exercise with Sri Lankan Navy; Photo Courtesy Indian Navy

In today’s context of maritime security, navies need to work together to enhance the collective maritime security quotient of the region. Once a meeting of minds occurs, identifying areas of common concerns to streamline mitigating efforts would naturally follow. Another enabler is the assimilation & analysis of information. To allow data to be processed in an actionable manner, information sharing mechanisms among nations would be vital. The IN has accorded high priority to maritime engagement with regional partner states. Towards fulfilling India’s commitment of being the ‘Preferred Security Partner’ in the region, the IN has always been a close partner to the IOR littorals & engaged in the maritime domain to counter their security challenges.

Under the aegis of Gol’s vision SAGAR & also in line with our commitment to build capacities & self-reliance in all our neighbouring countries, we have been providing assistance to our friendly foreign countries. We undertake capability enhancement through quality training, hydrographic surveys, EEZ surveillance based on specific requests & refit/repairs assistance. In addition, towards maintaining good order at sea, the IN also regularly conducts combined operations with our maritime neighbours, including coordinated patrolling.  

The collaborative efforts of IONS (Indian Ocean Naval Symposium), MILAN, GMC (Goa Maritime Conclave) have resulted in improved mutual understanding & provided a roadmap for multilateral engagements. 

Q. Given the centrality of the Indo Pacific, how can the potential in the region be further harnessed?

Ans. The Hon’ble PM articulated India’s approach to the Indo Pacific during the Shangri La dialogue in Jun 18. This approach is founded in the vision of SAGAR, Security And Growth for All in the Region, and underscored by the principles of 5S सम्मान (respect); सम्वाद (dialogue); सह्योग (cooperation), शांति (peace), and समृद्धि (prosperity). In keeping with this, India believes that a free, open, inclusive, and rules-based region that facilitates prosperity for all is the most suited approach.

This is being operationalised at the national level through the Indo Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI), launched by Hon’ble PM in Nov 19, at the East Asia Summit. As an open global initiative, the IPOI draws on existing regional cooperation architecture and mechanisms to focus on Seven central pillars conceived around Maritime Security; Maritime Ecology; Maritime Resources; Capacity Building and Resource Sharing; Disaster Risk Reduction and Management; Science, Technology and Academic Cooperation; and Trade Connectivity and Maritime Transport. This initiative has received significant support from various nations including Australia, France, Japan. We in the Navy are also fully committed to pursuing and operationalising the vision of SAGAR, through our focused engagements with friends and partners across the region, to strengthen our overall collective capabilities and capacities.

Q.  What will the Indian Navy look like in the future? 

Ans. The ongoing modernisation process aims to create capabilities for accomplishing a range of missions, across the entire spectrum of threats and challenges, and in all four domains that the Indian Navy operates i.e. surface, sub-surface water, air and on land. Based on the long-term capability development plan of the Navy, I can firmly state that the future Indian Navy will be operating next generation platforms ranging from Aircraft Carriers, Destroyers, Frigates, Corvettes, LPDs, nuclear powered submarines, wide variety of aviation assets like fighters, air early warning aircraft, reconnaissance aircraft, helicopters, UAVs etc. All of these would necessarily have indigenous state-of-the-art systems with cutting edge technology, reliability and robust architecture to provide us with the requisite combat capability. 

IAC -1 undertaking Sea Trials; Photo Courtesy Indian Navy

In the past year, we have inducted first of the P15B ship, INS Visakhapatnam, two new Kalvari Class Submarines, Vela & Karanj & a new P8i Squadron at Goa. Presently, 41 ships & submarines are under construction, out of which 39 are in Indian shipyards. Induction of IAC-I, INS Vikrant is planned in the ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’ a proper tribute to the indigenisation efforts of the IN. 

Indian Navy’s latest indigenously built destroyer INS Visakhapatnam at Sea: Photo Courtesy Indian Navy

The major platforms under construction include three Visakhapatnam Class Destroyers, seven P17A Shivalik Class follow-on Frigates, four follow-On Teg Class Frigates, two Diving Support Vessels, four Survey Vessels (Large) & 16 ASW- SWC. Contract for two Multi-Purpose Vessels has just been concluded with an Indian private shipyard. Contracts for Cadets training ships, Fleet support ships, next generation missile vessels & OPVs, are at advanced stages for contract conclusion.

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