Chinese subs permanently sailing in Indian Ocean

NEW DELHI:Posing a fresh challenge to India, one or two Chinese submarines are now permanently sailing in the Indian Ocean, testing New Delhi’s abilities to keep an eye on under-sea threats.

ROBINSINGH@TRIBUNE.COM

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 20

Posing a fresh challenge to India, one or two Chinese submarines are now permanently sailing in the Indian Ocean, testing New Delhi’s abilities to keep an eye on under-sea threats.

The Navy has flagged the matter to the government about the continuous presence of Chinese submarines, floating either in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea or the Bay of Bengal. Though the subs are in international waters, the visits are no more sporadic in nature.

For the past one year or more, submarines of the People Liberation Army Navy are constantly noticed, Navy has told the government. The world’s busiest sea lane of communication runs from the west of India and passes through the Bay of Bengal. China’s trade moves on these routes and so does India’s and Japan’s, among others.

With submarine technology becoming more sophisticated, tracking these under-sea vessels is a challenge. China has 61 submarines, including nine nuclear-powered, allowing longer endurance. At present, China is just testing waters and there is no aggressive posturing, sources said.

A submarine, under-sea, can ‘pin down’ six-seven warships just by instilling the fear of unknown and track ship movements. The Navy’s most potent ability to track submarines is the Boeing P-8I maritime patrol aircraft. Eight are in the fleet and another four are on order. The aircraft have the ability to quickly search a wide area of water.

Such is the threat that the Navy wants even the planned 100-odd naval utility copters to carry an anti-submarine weapon. The Kalvari class diesel-electric submarines have ASW suites. The Kalvari and Khanderi, the first two of the subs, will be commissioned within this year.

A new set of ASW-capable helicopters are on the anvil. An ASW helicopter with its sea-dunking sonars is a favoured platform for detecting a submarine as an over flying copter itself cannot be found or targeted by a submarine. The ASW-capable Kamov 28 copters are being modernised, sensors upgraded and the copters will undergo a technical overhaul to enhance the copter’s life.

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