Tuesday, February 17, 2015

India's submarine program continues to struggle

India’s Submarine Program Continues to Struggle
INS Arihant at launch

Little has improved in the past year, even as China has boosted its presence in the Indian Ocean region. A new ballistic missile sub, the INS Arihant, has only just begim sea trials. Delhi remains on the hunt for new diesel-electric subs to replace the sidelined Sindhuratna. Six Scorpene-class diesel-electric “hunter killer” vessels, built under a technology transfer program with France, were supposed to be ready for trials, but are still undergoing extensive refurbishment. That project has been ongoing since 2007. Without those subs, along with Shishumar- and Sindhughash-class vessels, set to be outfitted with tube-launched Harpoon missiles, India will have to tough it out for the next several months with a weakened underwater defensive perimeter. India recently sought to purchase Japanese-manufactured Soryu-class submarines, but it’s unclear if that deal will move forward.
India’s manufacturing sector is improving. Mazagon Dock, Garden Reach, and Cochin Shipyard are working full tilt, if not yet to capacity. With Washington’s support, India is poised to boost defense indigenization efforts in 2015. The politics in the region are also tilting in Delhi’s favor, particularly after Maithripala Sirisena knocked out the two-term incumbent, Mahinda Rajapaksa, in Sri Lanka’s elections a month ago. Rajapaksa had encouraged Chinese port calls to Colombo.
If India is to realize the potential of its undersea forces, the navy can’t afford any more costly mistakes.

No comments: