UPI – India’s navy received its ninth P-8i surveillance aircraft on Wednesday. The plane is the first delivered under an option contract, signed in 2016, for four additional aircraft, the remaining three of which are expected to arrive in 2021.
USNI News – The U.S., Indian, Japanese and Australian navies on Tuesday kicked off the Malabar 2020 naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal, bringing the four nations together for the annual drill for the first time in over a decade.
War Zone – India says that it has successfully tested a new supersonic anti-submarine missile. This missile carries a lightweight torpedo as its warhead and releases it over the designated target area, after which that weapon operates as normal and uses its own guidance system to seek out the enemy submarine. Dubbed the Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo, or SMART, this could give Indian warships, and potentially shore-based units, a valuable additional stand-off tool in the face of growing submarine threats from adversaries, especially China.
CIMSEC – Paradoxically, though COVID-19 has weakened India’s economic ability to fund its naval infrastructure and assets program for the Indian Ocean, it has enabled India to strengthen its links with Indian Ocean micro-states through the humanitarian assistance delivered by the navy. Meanwhile, land confrontation with China at Galwan has encouraged India to deepen its military links with other maritime powers operating in the Indian Ocean. In an unstated but evident balancing fashion, this is enabling India to improve its maritime position in the Indian Ocean vis-à-vis China.
– US Naval War College Review – While some security arrangements exist in the Indo-Pacific, there is no overall regional security architecture, geopolitical headwinds are causing existing arrangements to wobble, and loose groupings of countries are emerging either to strengthen or to weaken those arrangements. India’s strategic stakes are growing, but it faces capacity and capability issues that impose prioritization constraints.
– War on the Rocks – As India and Australia prepare for a virtual summit next month between prime ministers amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, a possible strategic initiative could involve the cooperative use of their respective island territories in the Indian Ocean for strategic purposes. India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Australia’s Cocos (Keeling) Islands are well positioned to offer significant advantages for both countries.
– Breaking Defense – The Indian and US governments were in such a hurry to get sub-hunting US helicopters into the hands of the Indian navy that the Americans gave up some of their own helicopters to fill a rushed delivery early next year.
– Indian Defense Research Wing – Russia has communicated an offer of selling three old Kilo-class hulls for the Indian Navy to tide over its shortfall of conventional submarines. The $1.8 billion “three plus three” arrangement bundles refits of three of India’s Kilo-class submarines with an additional three old Russian navy Kilo-class hulls.
(Thanks to Alain)
– Naval News – An Indian Navy P-8I Neptune Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) visited Reunion Island to train with the French Air Force and Navy based on the island, known as “FAZSOI”.
– Defense News – India on Wednesday cleared the purchase of 24 Sikorsky MH-60R naval multirole helicopters through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program.
– CIMSEC – The annual Raisina Dialogue, hosted by India since 2016, is useful for highlighting the process of maritime strategic convergence between Australia, France, India, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S. The Raisina Dialogue was initially set up by India as a high-level forum for international discussion. Tellingly, Chinese officials have never been invited.
– Naval News – The progress on the construction of the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-P71) project was reviewed by Indian Defence Secretary, Shri Ajay Kumar.
– Defense News – The Indian Navy hit a major milestone in its quest for a home-grown carrier-based fighter aircraft. A prototype of a naval version of India’s Tejas light combat aircraft performed an arrested landing on board the carrier Vikramaditya in the Arabian Sea.
– The Hill – Many take an interest in the Indian Ocean. For example, both Britain and France have vowed to mount a frequent, if not standing, naval presence in the Indo-Pacific to help offset Chinese and Russian ambitions. And let’s not forget India, a budding titan that regards itself as the Indian Ocean region’s benevolent overseer.
– War Zone – The India-specific design would need significant changes, but using a known ship as a starting place makes the offer very attractive.
– Defense News – India on Thursday signed a $3 billion contract for the lease of an Akula-1 class nuclear-powered attack submarine from Russia for a period of 10 years.
– War on the Rocks – After INS Arihant, India’s first ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), finished its maiden deterrent patrol in November 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphatically declared India’s nuclear triad complete. Arihant’s operationalization has catapulted India into a select group of states with an underwater nuclear launch capability. It has also raised alarm over the safety and security of India’s nuclear arsenal because a sea-based deterrent may entail a ready-to-use arsenal and less restrictive command and control procedures, increasing probability of their accidental use. For Pakistan, India’s nuclear force modernization endangers the balance of strategic forces in the region and could intensify the nuclear arms race on the subcontinent.
– USNI News – An Indian Navy UH-3H helicopter touched down on San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD-23) in late December, marking the first such cross-decking between the two navies and the realization of an agreement made more than a year ago.
– USNI News – When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced earlier this month that the Indian Navy had completed its first sea-based nuclear deterrent patrol it was more of a statement of intent than a demonstration of a new capability.
– USNI News – The U.S. Navy is hosting naval forces from India and Japan in Guam for the annual Malabar Exercise, set to start Thursday in the Philippine Sea.
– War on the Rocks – The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been neglected in Delhi’s strategic and political priorities, especially given their distance (approximately 1200 kilometers from the mainland). Priorities within the navy focused on strengthening India’s immediate coastline while the islands’ potential was something to be taken advantage of later. However, recent developments in maritime Asia have forced Delhi to re-examine its naval priorities, and the current government has started showing more enthusiasm for maritime security.
– US Naval War College Review – How effective would Indian aircraft carriers be during a future war with India’s strategic rivals? This is a question worth exploring, yet no previous literature has dealt with it explicitly. Moreover, addressing this subject would contribute to the richness of the overall carrier debate that has been going on since the platform’s inception in the 1920s.
– CIMSEC – The ongoing disputes in the South China Sea (SCS) have been regarded as one of the most enduring and complicated regional conflicts in the Asia-Pacific. The disputes involve China along with several states in the region and encompass issues such as overlapping territorial claims and access to critical resources like energy and fisheries. Within this turbulent environment, India has been expanding its influence through implementing its Look East Policy (LEP).
– War on the Rocks – It seems that we are in the middle of a base race across the Indian Ocean. The latest move, reported on Tuesday, involves an agreement to give India access to naval facilities in Oman, close to the Strait of Hormuz. This may be the first step towards a greater Indian naval presence in the Persian Gulf.
– Economic Times – The Indian Navy is considering the acquisition of more Boeing P-8I aircraft for surveillance and Anti-Submarine Warfare.