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R S Chauhan - February 9, 2012
The ongoing naval exercise is testing new platforms, weapons sensors, communication systems and tactics in order to optimise the network combat power of the fleet, which included over 40 surface combatants of various classes, submarines and a large number of aircraft, including unmanned aerial vehicles, reports RS Chauhan
The ongoing Tropex-2012 (theatre-level readiness and operational exercise) by the Indian Navy off the east coast has, for the first time, tested a new network-centric battle concept involving India's two operational naval commands, the Western Fleet as well as the Eastern Fleet.
According to an Indian Navy spokesperson, the Tropex is testing new platforms, weapons sensors, communication systems and tactics in order to optimise the network combat power of the fleet, which included over 40 surface combatants of various classes, submarines and a large number of aircraft, including unmanned aerial vehicles.
Defence Minister AK Antony, along with the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma and other senior officers of the Eastern Command, witnessed the exercise over two phases -- night and day -- as the two forces performed in tandem off the coast of Visakhapatnam.
The Air Force fielded fighter aircraft like Sukhois, Mirage and Jaguars directed by the Airborne Warning and Control System.
While the exercise itself is an annual routine, the new weapons system and their utilisation over a broader canvass is new and futuristic, officers involved in the exercise told rediff.com.
This is in keeping with the Indian Navy's modernisation and upgradation programme, Navy sources said.
Accordingly, the Navy has over the past few months finalised a maritime capabilities perspective plan and the XII plan (for 2012-17). Under this, the Navy has ordered 49 ships and submarines of different class. Of these, 45 will be built indigenously by public sector shipyards as well as a couple more advanced private sector ship-builders.
According to the Naval HQ, a naval technology perspective and capability roadmap, to keep the industry informed about the future requirements of the Navy in terms of technology and desired capability, will be shared with these shipyards. This document will be hosted on the MoD web site too, they said.
During his annual media interaction in December, Adm Verma had announced that over the next few years the Navy expects to induct ships/submarines at an average of five ships per year provided the yards deliver as per contracted timelines. "In 2011, we have concluded eight important contracts which include contracts for four destroyers, five offshore patrol vessels, two cadet training ships, eight landing craft utility and fast interceptor craft for coastal security duties. We are also looking forward to soon concluding contracts for mine counter measure vessels and P17A frigates soon," he added.
He also listed other major projects under construction in Indian shipyards. They are: the three ships of Kolkata class (P-15A), four P-15B ships which are an advanced version of the Kolkata class and the six P75 submarines, all at Mazagon Dock Limited, Mumbai.
Four anti-surface warfare corvettes are being built at Garden Reach Ship-builders, Kolkata. In addition, nine naval offshore patrol vessels are under construction at Goa Shipyard Limited and a private shipyard.
According to top Naval officers, India's maritime surveillance capability is being strengthened by the planned induction of 12 P-8I Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
The first flight of the P-8I for the Indian Navy took place in September 2011. Various other measures like building and improving infrastructure, better human resource policies and more bilateral and multi-lateral maritime cooperation, are planned by the Indian Navy in its near-future projection plan.
As Adm Verma said: "We are committed to create and sustain a combat ready, technology enabled and networked force, capable of safeguarding our maritime interests and projecting combat power across littorals. We seek to evolve relevant conceptual frameworks and acquire the war fighting capabilities to operate across the full spectrum of conflict on a sustained basis. Ensuring combat readiness will therefore remain our primary focus. We will also be prepared to undertake benign and humanitarian tasks in our region, whenever required. Our operational endeavour shall be underpinned by continuous upgradation of our human skills and a willingness to transform as required to meet the challenges of the future."