India’s Navy Grows in Global Relations, Plans Increase in Submarine Activity

For some years now, poverty and human development have complicated the precise ranking of India in terms of the “four worlds” geopolitical archetype. With regards to population, the country carries the second largest national community, dwarfed only by the population of China. One of India’s strongest public attributes is its budding naval unit. This militaristic faction has been instrumental in dealings both of a political and economic nature. The administration is also focusing its energies on developing atomic-run submarines.

American and French Relations Aid the Indian Navy in Serving Its Purpose

As has been stated on the Navy’s official website, the “Indian Navy remains committed to ensuring safety of Indian maritime trade and merchant vessels operating in the region and contributing towards maintaining a stable and peaceful Indian Ocean Region.” One of the threats to Indian trade and the overall peace outlined in the Navy’s official statement is piracy. To combat the threat of theft en route across the sea, the Indian Navy has lately seen action in the Gulf of Aden, though the Navy has also patrolled areas of the Persian Gulf.

Recent agreements between India’s National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the United States and France have proved favorable for the navies on all sides of the accord. Vessels enlisted in the US Navy, for instance, have since refueled at Indian naval bases. The US Navy, in turn, reciprocates by permitting Indian warships to commonly refuel from their own reservoirs.

In addition to its anti-piracy endeavors, the Indian Navy has been engaged in assisting with Operation “GULFDEP,” taking place in the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, as well as Operation “MALDEP” in a sector of the Andaman Sea that stretches to the Malacca Strait. The Malacca Strait serves as the entry point to the Indian Ocean Region for ships of the heavily-fortified Chinese Navy.

The Indian Navy’s Preoccupation with Submarines

Many of the world’s leading navies have possessed nuclear-powered submarines for decades. China’s naval force, the People’s Liberation Army Navy, had acquired five Type 091 Han-class atomic subs by 1974. The US had functional nuclear submarines by the late 1950s, and Great Britain had its inaugural nuclear submarine by 1960. For the Indian Navy, however, building nuclear-powered subs is an endeavor which has only seen active development within recent years. In 2015, a long-dormant project involving the construction of half a dozen atomic subs was begun as per the NDA’s instruction. That same year, Russia produced the Kransnodar, a diesel-electric, Kilo-class sub, which attacked certain coordinates (where members of the Islamist militant group Isis were located) in Syria in 2017.

The Indian submarines being designed are intended to feature uncannily strong nuclear reactors. The Defense Public Sector Unit, Mishra Dhatu Nigam, has been developing a new alloy to be used in the hulls of the upcoming Indian subs. While in the midst of acquiring their own submarine fleet, India currently has two nuclear submarines on loan from Russia: the INS Arihant, and the Chakra. (Ties with Russia and France, together with those with the UK and Germany, remain India’s most crucial affiliations in the European arena.) It has also been reported that back in March, a multi-billion-dollar transaction took place between Russia and India, in which India received a lease on a superior nuclear attack submarine. It has been hailed as Chakra III and shall be constructed, at least in part, in a Russian shipyard. The Indian government may feel there is a sufficient need for such subs on account of recent terrorist and military activities.

The Pulwama Incident Showcases the Need for Efficient Naval Submarines

In mid-February of this year, a terrorist attack broke out in India’s Pulwama district. The militant group which took responsibility for the Pulwama attack was the Islamist faction Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). The extremist party is based out of Pakistan. In the eyes of India’s government, the blame fell upon the country of Pakistan itself.

Resulting from the Pulwama attack, the Indian Navy had quickly deployed a large portion of its fleet near Pakistani waters, which consisted of a variety of vessels including conventional and nuclear subs. At this point, Pakistan’s government was concerned that New Delhi would use this fleet to seek revenge for the deaths of the 40 CRPF officials who were killed in the Pulwama bombing.

India was maintaining keen surveillance over Pakistan’s military forces. The Indian Air Force (IAF) eventually executed a strike on a Jaish factory situated in Balakot. Twelve Mirage 2000 fighter jets were tasked with the job, which was referred to as Operation “Bandar.” It was the IAF’s first attack within Pakistani borders since the 1971 Indo-Pak War. Following this air strike, an Agosta-class Pakistani sub, the PNS Saad, disappeared from its native waters, evading Indian detection.

One of the PNS Saad’s features which allowed it to be sly and subtle in its maneuverability was its Air Independent Propulsion. This system is designed to permit the submarine to remain submerged longer than a typical sub. Once the Pakistani sub was unaccounted for, the Indian Navy quickly set out to search for the vessel and to prepare for a number of possible outcomes. The Indian Navy’s Scorpene-class sub, the INS Kalvari, assisted in the submarine hunt.

Finally, after more than 20 days of searching, India came in contact with the PNS Saad on Pakistan’s western end. It had been secretly deployed there in the chance that it would have some role to play should India’s military forces keep up bombardment after Operation Bandar. The Indian Navy has currently occupied sectors of the Arabian Sea, paying strict attention to Pakistani vessel movements and locations.

India’s recent hunt for the PNS Saad and growing naval activity have signaled the Navy’s readiness for effective nuclear attack submarines. The forthcoming Chakra III and the nuclear submarine fleet will aid in the Indian Navy’s preparedness for future submarine hunts and increase military mobility.