The Indian Navy has deployed its P-8 Poseidon aircraft and Heron drones on the northern frontiers to counter China’s attempts to change the status quo on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Naval Chief Admiral Karambir Singh said on Thursday (December 3).
Stating that the COVID-19 pandemic and the attempts of China to alter the status quo at LAC are twin challenges, Singh said the Navy is ready to tackle both, and is closely working with the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force in ensuring the same.
While the Navy has deployed its P-8 surveillance aircraft and Heron unmanned aerial vehicles in the Ladakh sector at the request of the army and air force, it has leased two Mq-9B Sea Guardian drones from the US for additional support, Singh said while speaking at the annual news conference, ahead of Navy Day on December 4.
Even as Singh made no mention of any confrontation with the Chinese navy at sea, Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Naval Command told Indian Express that the Navy has successfully deterred the naval forces of People’s Liberation Army at sea to send out a stern message.
“…the Navy did portray its deterrent capability at sea. The Navy is a silent service and once you sail over the horizon, nobody knows what happens, except those who have communication systems on the ships. The Navy played an important role in deterring the PLA (Navy) at that time and the message has gone across to them very ambiguously that they cannot mess with us either at sea or on land,” he said.
Stressing the importance of air operations to naval activities, Singh said the Indian Navy will soon acquire a third aircraft carrier, which in turn goes in line with country’s aim to become a $5 trillion economy.
“We are very clear that airpower at sea is required. If you are a nation that is aspirational and wants to be a 5 trillion economy and don’t want to be tethered to the shores…aircraft carriers are absolutely essential,” he was quoted as saying by TOI.
The navy’s second aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, which recent cleared its basin trials, is set to begin its sea trials next year.
Singh said the Indian Navy is collating technical information before making the requisition for a third aircraft carrier before the government.
He said the Navy would also procure Smash-2000 rifles to protect its fleet against attacking drones.
The Navy is also collaborating with the Defence Research and Development Organisation to develop a multi-role carrier-based combat jet which would eventually replace its fleet of MiG-29 aircraft. The indigenised aircraft are likely to be commissioned in the 2030s.