There were hiccups, there were slippages, there were criticisms, there were apprehensions. But Indian Navy kept moving relentlessly to it's blue-water asiprations, which in 21st century, are centered around Carrier Battle Groups prowling the world oceans, protecting strategic interests of the nation.
It took years of planning, sheer determination, sailing over numerous setbacks to come close to realise this dream. The recent commissioning, and expected commissioning of the following naval assets are inline with this dream.
Shivalik Class Frigates - first ship of this class commissioned
INS Chakra Nuclear Attack Submarine - commissioned
Talwar Class Frigates
Kolkata Class Destroyer
INS Vikramaditya Aircraft Carrier
INS Vikrant Aircraft Carrier
By the time INS Vikramaditya will arrive in December 2012, it's escorts will be ready to accompany it for the maiden deployment. By the time INS Vikramaditya will be commissioned, it's Battle Group will consist of two Kolkata Class Destroyers, one or two Shivalik Class Frigates, one or two new Talwar Class Frigates, one Nuclear-Powered Attack Submarine (INS Chakra), one newly acquired Replenishment Tanker.
Indian Navy is surely moving forward to deploy Two Carrier Battle Groups by 2012, one centered around INS Viraat with Eastern Fleet and one centered around INS Vikramaditya with Western Fleet. The information floating around in defence circles suggest, when INS Vikramaditya arrives, it will become the flagship of Western Fleet and INS Viraat will be moved to Eastern Fleet.
Indian Navy officers and seamen are familiarising themselves with INS Teg (Sabre), some 200 Indian seamen and officers have “settled” on INS Teg, the first of the three ships of the 11356 project. They have been introduced to the new frigate and have started familiarising themselves with its equipment under the guidance of their Russian counterparts.
At the end of the week, INS Teg, with a joint Russian-Indian crew, is scheduled to put to the Baltic Sea to complete its state sea trials, during which the Indian sailors will have their first experience in sailing this modern frigate.
After its return from the trials, procedure of transfering the frigate over to Indian Navy will get strarted. India plans to induct the ship as early as April 2012.
Image Courtesy - seawaves.com
The frigate left Yantar for the first time under its own steam in September 2011, the ship successfully test-fired the BrahMos, a modern Russia-Indian produced missile in its sea trials.
Image Courtesy - gentleseas.blogspot.com
The two remaining frigates of this series are INS Tarkash (Quiver) and INS Trikand (Bow), which are also nearing completion. Russia has built three ships of this class for the Indian Navy in 90's – INS Tabar (Axe), INS Trishul (Trident) and INS Talwar (Sword).
Construction of a second Arihant-class nuclear submarine, to be named INS Aridaman, is moving fast at the Shipbuilding Centre (SBC) in Visakhapatnam. It is slated for launch by 2012 year-end or in the first quarter of 2013.
The first submarine of the class, INS Arihant, launched in July 2009, has just completed its harbour acceptance trials and is set to undergo the crucial sea acceptance trials in February. This will be followed by weapon trials before the submarine is formally inducted into the Navy, hopefully in 2013, when the country will attain the much-desired nuclear triad. Displacing about 6,000 tonnes, the 112 metre-long Arihant-class of SSBNs are powered by indigenously-built 80-MW nuclear power plants. Each submarine is said to store 12 K-15 missiles besides torpedoes and torpedo-launched cruise missiles.
Year 2011, marked a significant shift in the implementation of Indian Defence Policy. Though, there was innumerable hints and clues that India will do away with Passive Defence Approach and will moved to a posture of Active Defence on her frontiers, but it was Year 2011 which has shown that Active Defence policy has indeed moved to the implementation phase now.
Some important news from 2011 which supports this are -
Re-activation of Advance Landing Grounds in the North East sector
Stationing of front-line Sukhoi 30 MKI combat aircrafts in the North East sector
First flight of DRDO AEW&C aircraft that is being built in collaboration with Embrarer
Maiden test-firing of Agni 4 missile
Proposal to establish Mountain Brigade for Indian Army, which is to be deployed at Indo-Tibet border
Fast tracking of construction activities for Scorpene submarine
Release of a realistic date for comissioning of aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya - 4 Dec 2012 (Navy Day)
One can easily notice that all of these activities above, are signs of Active Defence Policy, to deter an aggressor and if deterrence fails, then definitely enables the country to initiate swift action against the adversary, with the help of active defence posture of these new defence ptaforms.
Now one of the most important news of early-2012 for Indian defence establishment came through Indian Navy -
INS Chakra (Russian Nerpa - Akula II) has been commissioned into Indian Navy. Indian Navy has re-acquired the capability of operating an SSN after two decades. INS Chakra should reach its new home base at Vishakhapatnam by February end. Vishakhapatnam has been a submarine base for Indian Navy since independence and the new submarine base proposed at Rambilli also lies on the east coast. This shows that Indian defence estbalishment no longer considers Pakistan as a major threat, and is now putting more focus on it's Look-East policy. Availability of an SSN in the arsenal of an Indian Navy, that too an Akula II Class submarine would have definitely disturbed the sleep of adversaries. Akula II Class is one of the finest hunter-killer SSNs in the world today, that prowls today's oceans, defence experts often compare it to US Navy's Virginia Class. After induction of INS Chakra, speculations are rife that India may get another Akula submarine on lease from Russia, it is based on the information that there are still some Akula hulls at different stages of completion, work was stopped on them after the disintegration of Soviet Union in 1991. Some of these hulls have been used for Borei Class SSBNs, but some of them are still lying there, and can be a potential candidate for another SSN to be leased to India. If that is the case we will surely get to know about it, may be in a not-too-distant future, this will enable India to have at least one SSN deployed on the east coast, at all times. Till then combination of INS Chakra and Diesel-Electric Kilo Class Submarines will hold the forte.