Waters around India are getting infested with something deadly called submarines. On the Eastern Sea board Bangladesh Navy is now operating two submarines of Ming variety bought from China. Malaysians too are operating two submarines of Scorpene variety Bought from France. Singapore has four submarines and Vietnam operates six improved Kilo Class purchased from Russia. Indonesians one of the first to have submarines in South East Asia now have only four vintage submarines but will soon be replacing them with modern ones. Then we have Japan with 18 very modern submarines, South Korea with 15 submarines, North Korea with six ocean going and around 40+ coastal submarines , Taiwan with two submarines and of course China has the biggest fleet with 57 conventional submarine and 15 nuclear powered submarines. Australians presently have six vintage Collin class submarines likely to be replaced with 12 modern ones of French design.
Then on the Western Sea board our friend Pakistan operates five conventional submarines of Augusta class, with plans to add eight Hangor class Chinese subs fitted with AIP, with effect 2020 and have claimed to be constructing one nuclear powered sub too . Iran has three Kilo class and around 30+ small diving vessels but well armed with torpedoes/missiles and even mines. Then Israel operates five Dolphin class submarines, Egypt has five submarines and South Africa has three subs. In addition there will always be a few American , Russian and may be one or two NATO submarines poking their nose in the area or may be just passing through the Indian Ocean.
With so many submarines prowling around, it has become difficult to ensure full safety in the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the wide open Indian Ocean. In fact before hunting down a submarine , first you have detect it and then with so many around , be sure that it does not belong to a friend . Detecting submarines in the tropical waters and that to on the Indian continental shelf is a very tricky affair even with the most sophisticated equipment available in the world.
For tracking and detection over the vast Indian Ocean (and hunting too) we have invested in the latest P8I Poseidon, Long Range Maritime Recce aircrafts of which we have a Squadron ie 12 aircrafts. Ideally we need three more Squadrons and minimum one and half more when the present IL38 too retire, Tupelov 142s have already retired. Action has been initiated for getting a medium range anti submarine patrol aircraft. Here again ideal requirement is of four squadron. For the short range , we have the Dorniers but they need augmentation and sooner than later further up gradation . Supplementation of these resources with UAVs and Drones is also in the process.
Anti submarine warfare capabilities are also built in with most of our major combatants and these Destroyers and Frigates carry on board dedicated Anti Submarine Helicopters too. Then recently clearance has been accorded for construction of dedicated 9x Anti Submarine Corvettes for the Coastal waters . We will need to have more of these corvettes for all the Naval commands , including A& N Command.
Finally we come to the most potent item itself , that is the submarines themselves. Indian Navy is somehow carrying along with 9× Kilos and 4x HDWs , with half of them already well past their prime. Thankfully 6x Scorpenes should be joining the fleet before 2020. However these will simply be not enough .
The Strategic Partners policy cleared by the Indian Ministry of Defence on submarine Acquisition plan along with other systems need to be acted upon with alacrity. MoD with IN must select both the domestic private sector company with submarine building capabilities namely RDEL and L& T . India has to go for Mega submarine Acquisition without wasting even one minute. The existing Project-75 which is about to Commission INS KALVARI by June2017 followed by five more needs to be extended to build six more . Out of these, three must be made by the French Company itself under Make in India at RDEL facilities at Pipavav.
The next Project 75I already quite late needs to be fast tracked by going in for the for the improved Kilos or the follow on to the Kilos that is Lada class . We need to build six at Mazagaon Docks and balance six simultaneously by the Russians themselves at their shipyard or as Make at Pipavav. Then as soon as Project 75 is over Indian Navy must be ready to commence with building submarine of indigenous design of which we will need 24 . So that by 2040 we have a a Squadron each with our four Flag Officers Submarines West, East, South and A&N.
Apart from a squadron each of conventional submarines, Each Flag Officer Submarines will also have a squadron (six submarines) each of nuclear power hunter killer submarines .
Presently we have just one in INS CHAKRA with plans to lease one more and construct six . Well we need a total of 24 by 2040. This Project needs to be really speeded with involvement of Hindustan Shipyard and L& T. Meanwhile IN should be able to operate at least four leased subs .
Finally we come to the second strike capability. INS ARIHANT is already in position in the vast depth of the Indian Ocean. ARDHIMAN and its sister too must join in the quickest. Then there will be a need to add on Nine more advanced Ballistic missile subs bringing the total to 12 operating in four squadrons. These advanced versions will have the yet to come submarine launched ICBMs, thus completing our nuclear Trident.
India must be ready to welcome not only all the Chinese submarines entering the Indian Ocean but also all of the local ones and those other outsiders who have no business to prowl around in these waters.