Stranded vessel at sea helped by Indian Navy
Indian Navy provided technical support to a cargo ship stranded at the sea. The cargo ship, named as MV Nayan, was heading towards Iraq from Oman. The vessel was stranded at sea due to propulsion failure, power generation machinery failure and navigational equipment disturbances since 9th March. The ship contacted INS Talwar through a broadcast call and asked for technical assistance. INS Talwar, which is deployed in the Gulf of Oman, dispatched it VBSS (Visit, Board, Search and Seizure) team after conducting the preliminary aerial assessment on 11th March.
The VBSS team, accompanied by a technical team headed towards MV Nayan, which had 7 Indian crew members. After working for 7 hours, the team successfully completed the work and operationalized the vessel’s both generators, sea water pump, steering pump, compressor and main engine. The efforts by Indian Navy made MV Nayan seaworthy again, by repairing its GPS and other navigation equipment and lights. MV Nayan then proceeded for its voyage.
Facing Budget constraints, Indian Navy reduces its fleet demands and opts to lease systems
Amidst the faceoff with China in the Eastern Ladakh region, Indian Navy is trying to recalculate its fleet requirements for immediate and future purposes. The Navy has already cut down its fleet, from 200 warships to 175. It has also planned to reduce the plans of its long term procurements. It will reassess and probably reduce the number of Landing Platform Docks (LPDs) from 4 to 2, and several other items, which have been earlier accorded with the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN). The number of minesweepers may also get reduced from 12 to 8.
As compared to 2012-2013, the Navy’s share in defence budget of 2019-20 fell from 18% to 13%. Hence, the officials are planning to prioritize the projects according to the money received. Earlier, the Navy had planned to procure 10 Kamov KA-10 early warning helicopters and 10 P-8i aircraft from the US, which has now been reduced to 6 each. Also, the cadet training ship programme may also be closed due to budget constraints.
In the Defence Budget of 2021-22, Indian Army saw an increase of 12.6%, Indian Air Force’s (IAF) share increased by 22.9%, while the share of Indian Navy increased by 24.6%, as compared to the budget allocations from previous fiscal.
To reduce the pressure on the treasury, Indian Navy is planning to lease vessels from various countries. These vessels include small fuelling tankers, diving support vessels and other small ships. Small Fuelling Tankers are used for support trips and will cater to Navy’s logistical needs. Diving Support Vessels can also be used as submarine rescue vessel. Recently, it has leased 2 Sea Guardian drones from a firm based in the US. A ship to travel between Kochi and Lakshadweep has also been leased from an Indian firm. In future, the Navy may lease minesweepers and Naval Utility Helicopters from some countries. The information regarding these systems is being gathered from the market and the one providing the best deal will be chosen.
Indian Army to get new system to enhance communication
Indian Army is planning to procure indigenous Mobile Integrated Network Terminal (MINT) systems. These Made in India systems will help the army in enhancing its operational communication capability. Also, this procure will give a major boost to the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative of the central government. The procurement will be done under Make II category of DAP 2020. This category includes prototype development, assembly and upgradation of equipment, system platform and various other components.
MINT is a portable, lightweight integrated communication system equipped with satellite backhaul. It provides wireless action system which supports voice, video and data formats. 11 firms have been approached for the development of prototype as per the Project Sanction Order. Out of these, 1 firm will be selected and the order will be placed for prototype development. All these developments will be carried out under the provisions of Buy (Indian-IDDM) of DAP 2020. It means that the product will be designed and developed indigenously and it should have minimum 50% Indigenous Content (IC).
Afghan National Defence and Security Forces Day celebrated
Director General of India’s Military Intelligence, Senior diplomats and military officials from various countries attended the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces Day program organised at the Afghanistan Embassy in New Delhi. Farid Mamundzay, Afghanistan’s Envoy Designate to India praised the efforts of Indian Government and thanked them for being Afghanistan’s most reliable regional partner. India provides defence and military assistance to Afghanistan by providing the military hardware and training opportunities to Afghan cadets at its defence academies.
Lt. Gen. Sanjeev Sharma, DG of India’s Military Intelligence, extended his wishes to the officers and soldiers of Afghanistan. He appreciated the professional nature of Afghan armed forces and wished Afghanistan to be a peaceful, powerful and professional country. He praised the afghan soldiers who defend the borders even after facing extreme challenges and tough topographic conditions.
He focused on the relationship shared by both the countries and talked about the productive engagements seen by both the armies in the past. India always supported Afghanistan in toughest times and both countries share historical linkages.
NCC organizes events to commemorate 75 years of independence
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence, the National Cadet Corps (NCC) launched countrywide action plans to promote social activities from March 2021. NCC organised events in 75 cities of the country and paid respect to statues of 75 national icons. These celebrations are a part of the ‘Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav’ launched by the central government. The cadets spread awareness and performed nukkad nataks, poetry recitals to explain the contribution of these personalities in the freedom struggle.
Since its inception, NCC has always contributed in the nation building process. It shapes the youth’s character and transforms their lives under the motto – ‘Unity and Discipline’. NCC will organize more events of Social Service and Community Development before 15th August 2021.
French led Naval Exercise to witness participation from QUAD countries
‘La Perouse’, the France led naval exercise, which is scheduled to be held in Bay of Bengal in April 2021, will see the participation of India Navy. All QUAD countries – US, Japan, India and Australia will participate in this much anticipated and strategic naval exercise. The exercise got its name from La Perouse, a French Naval Officer and explorer in 18th century.
The first edition of this exercise was held in 2019 and included forces from the US, France, Japan and Australia. In 2020, Australia was invited to attend the Malabar Exercise for the first time. All QUAD countries participated in this exercise and came together after a long period of time.
France has many territories in the Pacific Ocean and South Indian Ocean. Also, world’s largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) belongs to France. About 8000 French military personnel are based in his region. The Indo-Pacific Strategy of the country was published in 2018 which had main objectives to promote and enhance multilateral regional order and cooperation. In 2020, France became the 23rd member of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). IORA is an association of countries sharing borders with the Indian Ocean.
Indian Naval Training Team visits Madagascar
Indian Naval Ship (INS) Jalashwa, along with a 5 member team from Indian Navy reached Antsiranana Port in Madagascar. The contingent is on a visit to Madagascar to help the Malagasy Special forces in capacity building and special training. The vessel will be deployed in Madagascar for 2 weeks. The ship will also visit Comoros and Port of Ehoala in Madagascar to deliver rice and tablets of HCQ. This region in South Madagascar is currently facing drought situation.
In 2018, the President of India on his trip to Madagascar signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with his counterpart for defence cooperation. Many other projects for bilateral cooperation are currently being discussed between the 2 countries. India shares a wide cooperation with Madagascar in defence sector.
In February 2021, a 4 member delegation led by the Defence Minister of Madagascar Major General Leon Jean Richard Rakotonirina attended the Aero India Summit 2021 and Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Defence Ministers Conclave in Bengaluru. India, on the other hand, is trying to enhance bilateral relationships with the coastal countries under the SAGAR – Security and Growth for All in the Region Initiative. Till date, India has been successful in this initiative and has emerged as a net security provider in the Indian Ocean Region.
Indian Air Force to get 3rd Netra AEW&CS soon
Indian Air Force will officially get the 3rd Netra Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&CS). This system is currently owned by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and is operated by IAF. IAF uses it as a Technology Demonstrator (TD) and hence, it may be officially transferred to it. 2 indigenously built Netra and 3 PHALCON early warning aircraft are currently used by the IAF, which is planning to induct 3rd Netra in few months.
Airbus A320 jets, owned by Air India, will be fitted with Netra 2.0 AWACS. The Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) has finished the work on Netra TD, and will now focus on developing Netra 2.0 AWACS. This program was approved in 2020. Earlier, the DRDO had the plans to sell this system to a foreign customer, but looking after the IAF requirements, it has decided to hand it over to the force. The IAF is unofficially using 3rd Netra system in border areas to keep an eye on the enemy movement.
Upcoming Naval Exercises
The Indian Navy is gearing up for joint Naval Exercises with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), France and the Quad countries. India, France and the UAE will be having trilateral naval exercise in strategically important Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The exercise will be named Varuna and will be held on April 25-27. Aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle will lead the Carrier Strike Group of France while India will be represented by Kolkata-class destroyer. It is for the first time that the UAE will join India and France for such an exercise. Strengthening its military-to-military engagement with the UAE, India had sent a warship to be a part of two naval defence exhibitions held on February 20-25. The Naval defence exhibition NAVDEX 21 and the International defence exhibition IDEX 21 saw the participation of the Indian Naval Ship Pralaya, a Prabal-class missile vessel built by Goa Shipyard. The vessel is fitted with a range of weapons and sensors, considered as a versatile platform to undertake a number of surface warfare missions. Indian Navy Ships have been doing routine port calls in the UAE, for example, a port call by INS Mysore in February 2021.
A new bilateral naval exercise was started by India and the UAE in March 2018 named Gulf Star 1. The exercise was held off the coast of Abu Dhabi between March 17 and 18, 2018. Two major Indian Navy ships, INS Gomati (a guided missile frigate) and INS Kolkata (a guided missile destroyer) took part in the exercise. The exercise highlighted growing defence cooperation between the two countries. The exercise saw force protection measure drills, maritime interdiction operations and cross-deck landing exercises by the ships. Following up the growing facet of military cooperation between India and the UAE, Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane visited the UAE last December.
France has become a key strategic partner of India in the Indo-Pacific region. Building on their mutual partnership, France is about to join bilateral naval exercise between India and Australia. AUSINDEX has gained significant momentum in last few years. In order to counter growing footprints of China in the Indo-Pacific region more such bilateral and trilateral exercises are being planned. Such exercises will facilitate and strengthen interoperability and help gain operational experience in different maritime spaces with multiple partners. Another Naval exercise involving four Quad countries and France named Quad-Plus is scheduled in April. It reiterates Quad’s commitment to ensure rules based world order and freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific. The exercise may take place in Bay of Bengal.