Friday, 8 April 2011

Chinese Expansionist Threat Forces Indian Navy To Boost Eastern Command

INS Shivalik

The rapidly expanding Chinese Naval Empire in the Indian Ocean has sent alarm bill ringing in the Indian Naval Force, plus the policy of   "Look East", the Navy is slowly but surely bolstering force levels on the eastern coast with new warships, aircraft and spy drones as well as forward-operating bases (FOBs).

Indian Navy in a surprise move has upgraded the post of the chief of staff (CoS) at the Eastern Naval Command (ENC), which is next only to the flag officer commanding-in-chief, to a three-star general rank. Vice-Admiral S Lanba will take over as the new CoS at ENC on May 1, 2011.

INS Jalashwa

The other full-fledged naval operational command, the Western Naval Command (WNC) based at Mumbai, has had a vice-admiral as the CoS for quite some time now.

The Eastern Naval Command has around fifty warships at present,
which includes the new indigenously-manufactured stealth frigate INS Shivalik, which is packed with weapons and sensors, and the 16,900-tonne INS Jalashwa, the huge strategic sea-lift amphibious warship second only to aircraft carrier INS Viraat in size.

"The next two indigenous stealth frigates being built at Mazagon Docks, INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri, which should be commissioned by 2012, will also be based in ENC. Tuticorin and Paradeep are being developed as FOB and OTR (operational turn-around) bases," said a source.
Then, the new fleet tanker, INS Shakti, which should come to India from Italy by September, and the P-8I Poseidon long-range maritime patrol aircraft will also be based in ENC. India is acquiring 12 P-8I aircraft, the first of which is slated for induction by early-2013, from the US for over $3 billion to plug the existing gaps in its surveillance of the entire Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

INS Shakti

While these aircraft will be based in Rajali, Navy is also going to deploy spy drones or UAVs at the Parundu air station in Tamil Nadu. At present, Navy has two UAV squadrons based at Kochi and Porbandar, with Parundu and Port Blair next on the agenda. As part of Navy's three-tier aerial surveillance grid for IOR, the drones are already being used for the innermost layer reconnaissance up to 200 nautical miles.

INS Sahyadri

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