The projected Capital Procurement plan of the Maritime systems were almost 39% of the total Capital projections of MoD, which is likely to put a burden on the exchequer, and adversely affect the Army and the Air Force acquisition projects.
At present, the Indian Navy has about 138 surface fleet/ships/vessels including 13 submarines and 216 aircraft, of which 80 are fixed wing, 122 helicopters and 14 unmanned aerial vehicles. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had approved strength of 198 ships and submarines by 2027. Recently the five-year procurement plan was discussed in MoD and was deemed 'unrealistic' and doubts were raised about inclusion of acquisition of IAC-II aircraft carrier-borne fighter jets in the plan being expensive. A cursory look at the projected Capital Procurement plan, the Maritime systems were almost 39% of the total Capital projections of MoD and obviously not in line to the requirement of other two services. The proposed plan likely to put a burden on the exchequer, and adversely affect the Army and the Air Force acquisition projects.
Navy has other immediate issues, i.e timely replacement of old and ageing vessels, so that the vessels and platforms are available for exploitation optimally for fulfilling designated roles. The replacement of vessels depends upon the assessed life of the platform after examining its various aspects including the material, equipment and sensor state. It has been observed that the Navy is facing an acute problem of high average age of these platforms. The Table and Figures depicts the shelf life of the major platforms with the Indian Navy. To overcome the gaps in the desired number of ships and the existing force level, time bound shipbuilding and induction is inescapable.
The Navy has felt a need to give impetus to replace ageing platforms, Induction of Indigenous Aircraft Carrier, P 15B and P 17A Ships. The present procurement and acquisitions programme include 46 Ships and Submarines under construction in India.
The most urgent requirements for Navy - 8 MCMVs & the 6 SSNs, plus at least 20 10-tonne NMRHs & 20 12-tonne NMRHs. The biggest being the plan to make six new conventionally-powered submarines under the Project 75I plan, which is expected to cost over Rs 60,000 crore.
Besides this, the Navy plans to acquire 57 new fighter jets for operation on the existing INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier, and the INS Vikrant, which is currently under construction in Kochi.
The plan, to build a new aircraft carrier named Vishal, has also been moved again. The project is estimated to cost a whopping Rs 1.35 lakh crore at the approval stage, a projection that is likely to go up with time. The IAC-II is not a priority now, hence issue like the Rafale versus Super Hornet aircraft, propulsion system & E-MALS, are not immediate concern. Even the acquisition of 5 ocean-going fleet replenishment tankers & four LPHs will have to be postponed.
[Issue: 1, January-February 2018]