Without any doubt, it can be safely stated that both Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials and the three armed services chiefs are spectacularly notorious for dabbling in generalities or denials during official media briefings, while scrupulously avoiding getting into the details, where the devil always lurks. The press briefing given by the Indian Navy’s Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral Nirmal Verma, on December 2—which incidentally was to be his last such briefing--was no exception. To prove this, let us first gloss over the official text of the speech in its entirety.
ADDRESS BY THE CNS AT INDIAN NAVY DAY PRESS CONFERENCE
December 2, 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. At the very outset, I would like to thank all of you for being here this afternoon to attend this year’s press conference. I am glad to see that all forms and sections of media are well represented, which provides us with an opportunity for comprehensive interaction. I also avail this opportunity to compliment all of you for your valuable contribution in keeping the nation informed of our defence needs and imperatives.
2. It is not without reason that Mark Twain had remarked that only the Sun and the Press can carry light to all corners of the globe. Of course, he was talking about the Associated Press, but I think our own media has done well in carrying defence-related news and views to all parts of the country.
3. I will make some opening remarks, after which I will take your questions. As you are aware, we celebrate Navy Day on December 4 every year. It is an occasion to remember our war heroes as well as to rededicate ourselves to the service of the Nation. On this occasion I would like to specifically remember one of my illustrious predecessors, Admiral Oscar Stanley Dawson, who passed away last month. He was the Director of Naval Operations in 1971 and one of the architects of the events of December 4, 1971.
4. Today the world has acknowledged India’s economic prowess and future economic potential. As the country continues to progress on the path of sustained economic growth, there is a growing acceptance of the fact that the maritime domain is the prime facilitator of our economic growth. More than 90% of our trade by volume and 77% by value is transported over the seas. Over 97% of our energy needs of oil are either imported or produced from offshore fields. Consequently, our economic growth is inextricably linked to the seas.
5. It is in appreciation of these security and economic imperatives that we have adopted this year’s theme, for the Navy Day--‘Safe Seas and Secure Coasts for a Strong Nation’.
6. The role and responsibility of the IN to protect our maritime interest will grow with the requirement to safeguard our expanding economic interests, as also the expectations associated with being a mature and responsible regional maritime power. Therefore, whilst the Navy is prepared to meet any form of traditional threat, it is also in the process of acquiring capabilities and realigning its operational ethos to meet emerging security challenges in our maritime domain.
7. Accordingly, during the last year the Navy has maintained its momentum towards enhancing maritime security and safeguarding our economic and strategic interests. Today, the Navy stands committed towards contributing to stability in our area of primary interest, that is the Indian Ocean Region.
8. It is, therefore, with good reason that the tempo of naval operations in 2011 was substantially higher. The Navy has been dealing with low-intensity threats on a regular basis wherein securing our coasts and safety of the merchant marine require focussed attention. In addition, our preparedness to deal with eventualities across the spectrum of operations has been maintained at a high level through sustained deployments, regular exercises as well as cooperative security initiatives with regional and international navies. We have commenced induction of assets and manpower and setting up of infrastructure to consolidate our coastal security organisation. Further, indigenous development of naval armament and equipment has been a focus area of the Navy and I am happy to state that there has been significant progress in this field.
9. Perspective planning is the key to building and maintaining a force structure, owing to the dynamics of a constantly changing geo-strategic environment and threats evolving thereof. Force Level Planning is thus an iterative process. An implementable Perspective Plan is particularly critical to building an indigenous navy. I am glad to note that earlier this year, we have formulated the Maritime Capabilities Perspective Plan and formalised the naval component of the 12th Defence Plan for 2012-2017.
10. The Navy is acutely conscious of the need for optimal utilisation of allocated monetary resources. Within the budget projections, the Navy is aiming at building a multi-dimensional capability, congruent to our increasing responsibilities as well as challenges. Our preferred choice of inducting ships and submarines has been through the indigenous route and of the 49 ships and submarines presently on order, 45 are from Indian shipyards.
11. The Navy’s quest for indigenisation has resulted in our Defence Public-Sector Shipyards (DPSU) being given an unprecedented number of orders for warship and submarine construction. Significantly, for the first time, DPSUs and private shipyards were involved in competitive bidding. This has resulted in price discovery in some cases and two private shipyards have been awarded contracts for construction of Offshore Patrol Vessels and Training Ships for the Navy. With larger number of shipyards participating in warship building, a larger number of deliveries are expected in the medium–term.
12. As I reiterate our firm commitment to the continued development of our indigenous warship-building capability I must also add that we are keen that the capability of both public- and private-sector shipyards be scaled up to deliver state-of-the-art warships that meet our future needs in time frames that match global standards.
13. In this context with the aim to enhance synergy between the Navy and the industry, we have compiled 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. This document will be hosted on the MoD website and I hope that the initiative will help boost the participation of the private sector in the defence production process, particularly with regard to naval systems.
14. We hope to build upon some of our successes in this regard, such as the indigenous Combat Management System (CMS), which is currently at various stages of integration in our new induction platforms.
15. The induction programme is continuing apace and over the next five years we expect to induct ships/submarines at an average rate of 5 ships per year provided the yards deliver as per contracted timelines. This year 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 countermeasures vessels (MCMV) and Project 17A guided-missile frigates (FFG).
16. Amongst the major projects, under construction in Indian shipyards, are the three ships of Kolkata-class (Project 15A guided-missile destroyers, or DDGs), four Project 15B DDGs, which are an advanced version of the Kolkata-class DDGs, and the six Project 75 Scorpene submarines, all at Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL), Mumbai. Four Project 28 anti-surface warfare (ASW) corvettes are being built at Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata. In addition, nine Naval Offshore Patrol Vessels (NOPV) are under construction at Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) and a private shipyard. Construction of the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier is also progressing.
17. We expect to induct one Project 17 Shivalik-class FFG—INS Sahyadri--one Offshore Patrol Vessel, one Kolkata-class DDG, one P-28 ASW Corvette, three Catamaran Hull Survey Vessels and 25 Fast Interceptor Craft (these being a mixture of the 15 Chantier Naval Couach’s FIC-1300s and 80 FICs from Sri Lanka-based Solas Marine and for the Sagar Prahari Bal) over the next one year.
18. Amongst the overseas projects, the refurbishment of Vikramaditya is progressing on track and the ship is expected to be delivered in December 2012. The three follow-on FFGs of the Project 1135.6 Talwar-class, under construction at Russia, are likely to be delivered between 2012 and 2013.
19. Our maritime surveillance capability is a critical component of maritime security, both in times of peace and conflict, and plays a crucial role in the security of the Maritime Zones of India, as also of our vast coastline. The planned induction of twelve P-8I Poseidon LRMR/ASW aircraft to add more teeth to this capability, is on schedule. The first flight of the first P-8I for the Indian Navy took place on September 28 this year and this signals that the programme is well on track. The first aircraft would arrive in India by January 13. Acquisition of Medium-Range Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft is also being progressed concurrently.
20. The delivery of 16 carrier-borne MiG-29K multi-role aircraft, as per the initial contract will be completed by the end of the year. We have also signed a contract for 29 more aircraft, the delivery of which is likely to commence from April next year. The Naval version of the LCA is under development and two main engine runs of the first prototype have been carried out. The naval variant differs from the Air Force version due to its requirement to operate from the deck of the aircraft carrier. The prototype is expected to do the much delayed first flight by the first quarter of 2012. Once successful flight trials are completed, we intend to go ahead with a Limited Series Production (LSP) of the aircraft, in preparation for future inductions.
21. Further, the induction of Hawk Mk132 AJT commencing 2013 would facilitate advanced training of our young pilots in developing requisite flying skills over sea prior to graduating to deck-based combat aircraft.
22. The mid-life upgrade of existing Sea King Mk42B and Kamov Ka-28 helicopters, aimed at upgrading their weapon and sensor package would be undertaken in the 12th Plan period (2012-2017). Further, efforts are in hand for acquiring multi-role helicopters, additional airborne early warning helicopters and utility helicopters. The field evaluation for procurement of 16 multi-role helicopters was concluded recently and the contract negotiations should commence by early 2012.
23. The Indian Navy recognises the superior persistence and surveillance capabilities of unmanned assets and has factored their induction. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) squadrons on the West Coast are fully operational and a new squadron on the East Coast is planned to be commissioned early next year. The technological advancements on the unmanned platforms incorporating improved sensors would enhance the coverage of the Area of Operations and such features have been factored as future drivers of growth.
24. In addition, we are in the process of procuring a number of weapons such as heavy machine guns, assault and sniper rifles, close-quarter battle carbines and infantry weapons training simulators, to bolster our personnel protection capabilities.
25. Concurrent with the procurement of assets, development of infrastructure, is essential for balanced capability enhancement. We have therefore accorded high priority for creating supporting infrastructure for our new inductions.
26. Phase I of the Naval Base at Karwar, under Project Seabird, has been completed this year. The last major milestone was the inauguration of the Defence Civilian Township by the Hon'ble RM on May 21. We are now progressing the case for Phase II A of the project, which over the next eight to ten years would substantially enhance the operational, technical and administrative facilities and other infrastructure in the naval base. In addition, the Navy is also in the process of setting up Operational Turn Around (OTR) bases, Forward Operating Bases and Naval Air Enclaves along the coast which would enhance the reach and sustainability of our surveillance effort.
27. This year the Navy has provided a renewed impetus and focus towards creation of operational and administrative infrastructure in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands. These islands are the country’s strategic outposts and augmentation of the facilities would enhance our reach and enable extended presence in the area.
28. Moving on to operations. We have maintained a high level of training and preparedness consistent with our peacetime stance, through regular exercises at the Fleet level. We have also honed our skills in joint operations through the year. For instance, this year’s Operational Readiness Exercise, TROPEX 11, which was conducted in February, was marked by significant participation by both the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force with a focus on amphibious operations, amongst other issues. We also conducted another annual exercise which was aimed at addressing possible contingencies off the coast of Gujarat.
29. We have undertaken extensive overseas deployments in consonance with our foreign policy and operated extensively in the Indian Ocean as also in the Western Pacific. The nature of the maritime challenges, that we are faced with, necessitates engagement and cooperation with other Navies. Consequently, engagement of friendly navies on transnational maritime security issues, to develop a shared understanding and interoperability, has been a focus issue. Through such overseas deployments, the Indian Navy has been improving its operational and combat capabilities. This year, bilateral exercises were held with the navies of France, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, UK, USA, following exercises with Brazil and South Africa, last year. We have reinitiated a biennial series of naval exercises with Sri Lanka titled SLINEX, the most recent one having been undertaken in September this year.
30. Indian Navy ships have also engaged in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. Most notable amongst them was the deployment for evacuation of our citizens from Libya in March this year as part of Operation Blossom. Occurring in close wake to our Operational Readiness Exercise, TROPEX 11, that I had mentioned about earlier, OP Blossom demonstrated the efficacy and agility with which our units can transit from an exercise environment into operations. In another disaster relief operation, our units participated in the flood relief efforts in Odisha in September this year.
31. Piracy off the coast of Somalia has grown steadily over the years. While 217 attacks were reported off Somalia and in the Indian Ocean in 2009, they increased to 219 in 2010. The number of incidents have already reached 228 for the current year till November 2011. However, due to sustained efforts of navies and the shipping community, the success rate of piracy has dropped from 38% in 2008 to 11% this year.
32. Piracy in the region has a direct bearing on our economy as a large percentage of India’s trade including oil and fertilisers, also passes through the Gulf of Aden. The Ministry of Shipping has estimated that Indian exports and imports through the Gulf of Aden route are valued in the range of over US$100 billion. The safety and unhindered continuity of maritime trade, through ships that use this route, is, therefore, a primary national concern. About 24 India-flagged merchant ships transit the Gulf of Aden every month. Additionally, a large number of foreign flagged vessels with Indian crew also sail on these waters.
33. Consequently, the Indian Navy commenced anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden from October 2008 to protect India-flagged ships and Indian citizens employed in sea-faring duties. Close to 1900 ships have been escorted by Indian Navy ships in the Gulf of Aden of these the foreign flagged ships are close to 1,700. During its deployments for anti-piracy operations, Indian Navy ships have prevented 39 piracy attempts on merchant vessels.
34. As a result of resolute naval action in the Gulf of Aden by several countries, piracy shifted to new areas, including the East Arabian Sea by end 2010. In order to counter this new trend, the Indian Navy substantially increased its anti-piracy deployments in the East Arabian Sea, including areas off Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands. As a result of these deployments and actions against four pirate mother ships this year, the threat of piracy attacks has sharply reduced in this area. Over a hundred pirates were apprehended and 73 fishermen and crew were rescued during anti piracy operations by the navy in the East Arabian Sea this year.
35. Coastal security, as you may be aware, is a complex issue which requires not only seamless coordination across numerous organisations but also the setting up of significant technological infrastructure. Towards this end, our objective has been to increase the synergy between various agencies by ensuring better sharing of information, and coordination of actions. While there has been the odd aberration, in other instances swift coordinated action brought success.
36. In this context it is pertinent to highlight that, there has been an increase of about 70% in naval ship deployments and a 100% increase in aircraft deployments towards coastal security tasking. Surveillance of the Offshore Development Areas has also been enhanced. Integration of fishermen, as one of the stakeholders of maritime security, has been addressed at grass-root levels, and so far, 361 awareness campaigns have been conducted in the coastal states by naval and Coast Guard teams. This is an ongoing endeavour and will be continued in the years ahead. Our fishermen are our ‘eyes and ears’ in our coastal security matrix.
37. Considerable progress has also been made in augmenting coastal security infrastructure. The recently raised Sagar Prahari Bal has commenced operations with the induction of the first lot of FIC-1300s at Mumbai in June. As I mentioned earlier, a contract for another 80 additional fast interceptor craft was also signed in August. Static sea surveillance radars will be installed all along the coast by next year. A chain of Automatic Identification Systems will also come up along the coast by mid-2012. The pilot project for fitment of transponders on fishing vessels less than 20 metres of length, is planned for implementation in Gujarat and Maharashtra. After the initial trials this will be implemented in other coastal states. This measure would enhance the capability for tracking fishing boats in high density areas.
38. The Navy is setting up the National Command Control Communication Intelligence or (NC3I) Network envisaged for coastal security which would be an independent network and interlink all the Coastal Stations with the Joint Maritime Operations Centres and the Headquarters of Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard. Further, as part of NC3I network, an Information Management Fusion and Analysis Centre for fusing all maritime information is being set up, with a view to develop comprehensive maritime domain awareness and a common operational picture of the relevant sea and ocean areas. Once commissioned, this will be an important force multiplier.
39. Better inter-agency coordination has been one of the positive outcomes of the progress made in last few years. This has been facilitated by the conduct of regular coastal security exercises and operations conducted with all maritime stakeholders. While the coastal security architecture has been strengthened considerably, to further improve the capacity and capability for coastal security, a case for Phase II of Coastal Security augmentation has been initiated. Under this initiative, additional assets such as patrol vessels, helicopters, UAVs, manpower, special forces, forward operating bases, etc. have been proposed. The utility of these assets will not be limited to coastal security alone.
40. It is natural that India’s growing stature there will be expectations from the Indian Navy, which is the largest Navy in the region, to maintain good order and security at sea. To achieve its mandated tasks, the Indian Navy is enhancing its capabilities, as well as cooperation and inter-operability with regional and extra-regional navies. Naval forces, with their many attributes including access, mobility, sustenance, reach, flexibility and versatility, are ideally equipped to play an active part in furthering diplomatic efforts, in keeping with national priorities.
41. We have a well-established material and training assistance programme in place with Indian Ocean Region countries to assist them in capacity-building and capability-enhancement. The Indian Navy also provides assistance by deploying its assets like ships and aircraft to undertake surveillance of the Exclusive Economic Zone of the littorals from time to time, based on requests made by friendly countries.
42. In the current strategic scenario, wherein a myriad of global security challenges confront all nations at large, training cooperation is vital for fostering mutual trust and inter-operability. Training of personnel from friendly navies therefore, has been the cornerstone of our Foreign Cooperation Initiatives. It is aimed to increase training opportunities to Indian Ocean Region littoral countries, especially the island-nations and ensure that India remains their first preference for ab-initio and mid-career courses. We presently train personnel from 21 countries.
43. The Navy has institutionalised a number of bilateral exercises with other navies. These exercises have continued to expose our Navy to the best practices followed by others, develop inter-operability, showcase our indigenous shipbuilding capability and strengthen naval diplomacy initiatives. A number of bilateral exercises are accordingly scheduled in 2012 as well.
44. The Indian Navy has been actively involved in cooperative engagement with several friendly countries across the globe. The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium is one such initiative of the Indian Navy, which addresses common maritime security concerns and other such issues of mutual interest amongst the 35 member-states.
Human Resource Development
45. I firmly believe that human resource is our most precious asset. Our uniformed and civilian personnel derive their strength and motivation from the finest traditions that we have inherited from our predecessors. Yet it is a reality that the Navy is facing a shortfall in both uniformed and civilian personnel. Civilian personnel form the backbone of our maintenance force and have longstanding expertise, which we can ill afford to lose. We are making all efforts in conducting special recruitment drives to make good the shortfalls. Shortage of service personnel are also being progressively reduced through additional recruitments. In spite these efforts, there is a shortfall of uniformed personnel, which we hope to address in the coming years through focussed initiatives to engage the youth of our country. In this context, I am optimistic that Cabinet approval would be accorded in the near future for expansion of the Indian Naval Academy at Ezhimala.
46. Towards addressing our functional requirements and the aspirations of our sailors, a cadre restructuring proposal termed Review of Career Profile of sailors was approved by the Government in October 2010, which was aimed to enhance the functional efficiency of our units as also to promote greater professional satisfaction. The implementation has commenced in a phased manner and would reduce the timeline for promotion to the rank of Petty Officer to less than 15 years in all branches; i.e. within their initial contractual period. Another recently approved initiative is the Modified Assured Career Progression Scheme that has bolstered our efforts to provide better remuneration to compensate for the difficult working conditions in the Service. This scheme entitles each sailor assured growth through his career wherein he gets a financial up gradation at 8, 16 and 24 years of service or on spending 8 years continuously in a Grade Pay.
47. I would also highlight the special emphasis we place on ensuring that the family members of the personnel who lay down their lives in the Service of the Nation, continue to be provided support and succour through lifelong association with the Navy, for which, the Naval Regimental System, provides a very proactive mechanism with representatives down to the unit-level. We have a moral obligation towards providing support to naval widows and our initiative to set up a hostel for them, on land that was recently allocated for this purpose in Delhi, is a manifestation of our commitment.
48. Another recent initiative, the Navy–IGNOU Community College Scheme, Sagardeep, is a distinctive HR measure that will empower sailors, irrespective of entry-level qualification, branch or trade. The signing of the MoU this year between the Indian Navy and the Indira Gandhi National Open University has been a landmark event that will facilitate higher education amongst our sailors, thereby benefitting the Navy whilst significantly equipping our personnel for their second innings.
49. We have also accorded a lot of importance to providing quality accommodation to our personnel, this is an important aspiration that we are committed to address. Phase I of Married Accommodation Project or MAPS is largely complete. We have obtained approval for Phase II of the project and it is already under construction. Once implemented there will be a substantial increase in the availability of dwelling units for our personnel on completion of the second phase. Additionally, the Navy is also progressing issues related to upgrading hospital and school facilities for our personnel and their dependents which would contribute to our overall sense of well being, satisfaction and pride.
Sports and Adventure
50. It is a matter of great pride for me to state that the Indian Navy’s sportsmen have consistently done the country proud in the International arena. 32 Naval sportsmen have so far represented the country at various International sports events during the current year and have won 01 Gold, 02 Silver and 05 Bronze medals. Cdr Dilip Donde was awarded the Tenzing Norgay Adventure Award for his exemplary feat of successfully completing the maiden Solo Circumnavigation by an Indian citizen, on board the sailing yacht ‘Mhadei’ in 2011, Suranjoy Singh, MCPO II PT of the Navy Boxing team has been bestowed with the prestigious “Arjuna Award” for excelling in boxing for the year 2010-11. Sanjeev Rajput, MCPO II QA 3 of the Navy shooting team has qualified for the London Olympics 2012 in 50 Metres Rifle 3 Positions event. Ashok Kumar, Chief ME, Omkar Singh, Chief Petty Officer and Samarendra Singh, Leading Steward, have won medals at the international-level in wrestling, air pistol shooting and canoeing, respectively. We are extremely proud of the achievement of our sports persons and the Navy would continue to nurture young men and women who have the potential to bring laurels to the country.
51. Let me conclude by stating that 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 warfighting capabilities to operate across the full spectrum of conflict on 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.
52. The Navy Day is an occasion for me to avail the opportunity to express my appreciation, to each and every service and civilian member of the Navy, for their service to our nation, as also, my acknowledgment of the contribution by their families.
53. And finally, on behalf of the naval fraternity, I place on record, our deepest gratitude and respect to our martyrs and our veteran community who have built the strong edifice and traditions of the Indian Navy. In their recognition, year 2012 has been dedicated as the ‘Year for the Ex-Serviceman’.
Thank you very much.
What It All Means, Or Implies
Let’s start with Para 10, in which it is stated that “of the 49 ships and submarines presently on order, 45 are from Indian shipyards”. Would it have hurt the CNS if he had given a simplified breakdown of this order by mentioning the numbers of principal surface combatants (DDGs, FFGs, corvettes, submarines, MCMVs, auxiliary/utility vessels, and various types of fast attack craft? In Para 14, when he refered to the indigenously developed CMS (this being the EMDINA) “which is currently at various stages of integration in our new induction platforms,” does it imply that the CMS suites on board the two already-commissioned Project 17 FFGs have yet to undergo functional integration? And would it have hurt anyone if the CNS were to dwell very briefly on the challenges involved in naval systems integration and which were the naval establishments/directorates and DPSUs that have risen up to the challenge? In Para 16, by describing the Project 28 corvette as an “anti-surface warfare (ASW)” vessel, was the CNS claiming or confirming that these vessels will not be optimised for anti-submarine warfare, but will instead be armed with anti-ship cruise missiles and be configured for attacking hostile surfaced targets? In Para 19, where he stated that “the planned induction of twelve P-8I Poseidon LRMR/ASW aircraft…..is on schedule,” was he confirming that the contract for a follow-on four P-8Is had already been inked? In the same para, where he disclosed that the “acquisition of Medium-Range Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft is also being progressed concurrently,” would it have hurt if he had identified the potential platforms that had been shortlisted, whether they were turboprop- or turbofan-powered, how many platforms are planned for acquisition and why was the abbreviation ‘ASW’ not attached to the description of this platform? In Para 20, when referring to the LCA (Navy), why didn’t the CNS quantify the “Limited Series Production (LSP) of the aircraft” that the IN plans to procure? In Para 21, why did the CNS fail to give the number of navalised Hawk Mk132 lead-in fighter trainers being procured? In Para 22, while revealing that “efforts are in hand acquiring multi-role helicopters, additional airborne early warning helicopters and utility helicopters,” why did he not identify the helicopters being considered for procured by their names/model designations/tonnage, and which helicopter-type would go on board which vessel? In the same para while the CNS confirmed that “the field evaluation for procurement of 16 multi-role helicopters was concluded recently and the contract negotiations should commence by early 2012,” what was there to lose were he to identify the helicopters that were evaluated and shortlisted? In Para 23, where it was stated that “a new (UAV) squadron on the East Coast is planned to be commissioned early next year,” was the CNS implying that this would be based at the Behala airfield in south Kolkata, or would it be the squadron that was earlier earmarked for deployment in Port Blair, but will instead be based at Arakkonam in the near future? In Para 26, where the CNS disclosed that “the Navy is also in the process of setting up Operational Turn Around (OTR) bases, Forward Operating Bases and Naval Air Enclaves along the coast,” was he referring to India’s entire coastline, or just the western seaboard? And where exactly would these bases and enclaves be located? In Para 36, where it was mentioned that “there has been an increase of about 70% in naval ship deployments and a 100% increase in aircraft deployments towards coastal security tasking,” why was it not highlighted that coastal security operations during peacetime are constabulary functions that are best handled by the Indian Coast Guard Service (ICGS), why has the Navy been undertaking such operations, what effects would all these have on the technical service lives of the warships involved, and lastly, have such operations prevented the Navy from honing its warfighting skills post-26/11? In Para 38, why did the CNS not reveal the targetted commissioning dates of the National Command Control Communications Intelligence or (NC3I) Network and the Information Management Fusion and Analysis Centre? Is it because both the terrestrial NAVNET (using fibre-optic cables) and the project to deploy GSAT-7 fleet communications satellite in geo-stationary orbit are running way behind schedule? In Para 39, in which the CNS spoke about the initiation of Phase II of coastal security augmentation through the proposed acquisition of additional assets such as patrol vessels, helicopters, UAVs, manpower, special forces, forward operating bases, etc., was he referring solely to the Navy’s future force modernisation plans, or was he also talking about those of the ICGS?
During the question-and-answer session when the CNS described the IN as being “a brand new multi-dimensional navy with reach and sustainability” that “is in the offing with over 150 warships and close to 600 fighters, maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters and drones by the latter half of the following decade, what method of calculation did he employ when giving such figures? Did he factor in the list of warships to be decommissioned between now and 2027, which include four FFGs, five DDGs, one aircraft carrier, nine SSKs, eight MCMVs, one LPD and two LST-Ls, 19 corvettes and five AOPVs? Lastly, while the CNS stated that development work on the Arihant SLBM is on track and the vessel will be sailing out from Visakhapatnam for sea trials in the next few months, why did he not give out any projected or estimated commissioning dates for this vessel, especially since he had disclosed a year ago that when the Arihant is put to see in two years (i.e. 2012), it will be on deterrent patrol with strategic weapons on board?
Now that I have identified the blanks above, the concluding part on this thread will dwell upon filling up the blanks.