Wednesday, August 13, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Navy acquires stealth frigate
Orion patrol aircraft on cards, says naval chief
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

On Board INS Talwar, Aug 12
The surveillance capability of the Indian Navy is severely restricted on account of inadequate aircraft. It urgently requires additional maritime patrol aircraft to meet its operational commitments.

Stating this on a visit to the newly inducted stealth frigate, INS Talwar, which sailed into Mumbai today, the Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Madhvendra Singh, said: “We have very few surveillance aircraft and we need a lot more.”

He said talks were under way between India and the USA for the possible procurement of P-3 Orion patrol aircraft. Though refusing to divulge the number of aircraft the Navy is seeking, he remarked, we would like to have as many as we can afford because our surveillance capability is limited.

“The Navy, at present, has 13 surveillance aircraft though we require about 30,” he said.

Admiral Madhvendra Singh said to overcome the “lost decade” when the navy did not see and acquisition between 1985 and 1995, a two-pronged strategy had been adopted to maintain force levels. While new warships were being inducted, efforts were on to increase the lifespan of the existing fleet. “We have to extend the life of our present generation ships. They are getting old and it is a challenge for our dockyards and engineers to keep them battle worthy for a longer period,” he said.

Stating that there had been a change in the operating philosophy of the Indian Navy, the Admiral remarked: “We are a blue water navy and we operate like a blue water navy.” He listed various overseas deployment of Indian naval ships and operational commitments with other countries.

The naval chief said the induction of INS Talwar and its two sister ships, INS Trishul and INS Tabar had given a very significant addition to the strike capability of the Indian Navy. With its 200-km range Klub surface-to-surface missile and an array of surface-to-air missiles, torpedoes, rockets, guns and electronic warfare systems, these ships pack a punch unmatched by ships in their class.

The Klub missiles give it added advantage to attack shore-based targets and influence land battles. “Any navy which cannot influence land battles cannot remain a worthy navy. We will now be able to play a more vital role in lateral warfare,” the naval chief remarked.

This was for the first time that a ship had been built by the Russians to Indian specifications. “This will not so the case in earlier acquisitions from erstwhile Soviet Union,” he said. This is also the first time that major electronic equipment of Indian origin had been incorporated in a Russian ship. “The entire sonar system and communication suite is Indian designed and built”.

On the acquisition of the Gorhskov aircraft carrier from Russia, he said that he was not confident but hopeful that negotiations between the Indian and Russian governments would be completed soon. In the meantime, the steel of the indigenous air defence ship would be cut this year and construction would begin next year, he said. The ship would enter service in 2011. INS Viraat, the navy’s sole aircraft carrier is expected to continue in service for some more years.

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