India’s Emerging Blue-Water Navy
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

India’s Emerging Blue-Water Navy


On November 16, the Indian Navy finally took delivery of aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, formerly the Adm. Gorshkov, at Sevmash Shipyard in northern Russia’s Severodvinsk town. The acquisition marks a new phase in India’s quest to become a true blue-water navy.

The handover ceremony of the 44,570-tonne carrier is sure to have generated more than a passing interest within the PLA Navy and across the rest of the continent, since India will be the only country in Asia to have two aircraft carriers in its fleet. Admittedly, the 55-year old INS Viraat is “long in the tooth” as India’s Navy Chief Admiral D. K. Joshi himself described it in a recent interview, but it will continue to operate until India’s locally built carrier INS Vikrant becomes operational by 2017.

At the moment, only the U.S. Navy brings that sort of capability to Asia. Although it is coming five years late – the original delivery was scheduled for 2008 – the Vikramaditya will give India the ability to project raw naval power in its “near abroad” as well as in its extended neighborhood. With a capacity to carry two dozen Mig-29 K fighter jets and 10 Kamov helicopters at any given time on board and fitted with the latest sensors and missiles, the brand-new aircraft carrier will boost the Indian Navy’s firepower significantly.

But the Vikramaditya is not the only reason why the Indian Navy feels upbeat about its future capabilities. Naval aviation, long treated as a poor cousin of surface combatants in the Indian Navy, is exhibiting some new chutzpah of late. Days before Defence Minister AK Antony and flew to Russia with Joshi, the nation’s Defence Acquisition Council approved the purchase of four more Boeing P8I maritime patrol and antisubmarine aircraft in addition to the eight already contracted. The first of these eight planes was in fact parked at INS Dega airfield for everyone to see when Joshi formally inducted the newly acquired Advanced Jet Trainers Hawks into the Navy, to take training of Naval fighter pilots to the next level. The second P8I landed in India on November 15.

INS Dega, a small air station under Eastern Naval Command, is set to become Indian Navy’s biggest air base on the eastern seaboard soon. The expansion of air assets in the East is just one of the several plans that the Indian Navy has unveiled to strengthen its presence in the Bay of Bengal and support India’s “Look East Policy.” The P8Is are set to replace the hardy but old Soviet-made Tu-142 M aircraft that have been the backbone of the navy’s long range maritime patrols – with flights lasting up to 16 hours at a stretch. The P8Is are expected to play a major role in the Navy’s  surveillance role in the Indian Ocean as well as Malacca Straits.

As Joshi told this writer in an interview for Indian broadcaster NDTV on board INS Jalashwa, the navy’s biggest amphibious ship: “The first P8I has already arrived and is in the process of being accepted. Various acceptance trials are in progress and by the end of the year we will have three of them and others following in quick order next year. That brings into this region a capability that has not existed before. It’s a brand-new aircraft, apart from the platform which in any case is a proven Boeing aircraft. The fit has been to the specification the US Navy currently has. So therefore the capabilities that are coming into our hands are absolutely state of the art.”

Another capability the Indian Navy quietly added earlier this year was a dedicated communication satellite for its exclusive use. The satellite is expected to fully stabilize by the end of December. Launched with the help of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the naval satellite is described as a force multiplier by senior naval officers. It covers the Navy’s entire area of interest in the Indian Ocean and beyond. The satellite handles all data transfers for maritime domain awareness and the entire range of communications and networking needs of the Indian Navy. “It brings an entirely new dimension in network operations and in maritime operations,” Joshi told this writer a fortnight ago, speaking about the satellite for the first time in the public domain.

December 11, 2013 at 04:58

That looks like one helluva turning circle for a big ship..

December 6, 2013 at 11:12

Im just a regular american and no one is paying me at a cent. .. see in a free society, paid Chinese or unpaid chinese can comment on any western new article. Or blog and it want be deleted. … i have tried to post on chinese websites… the posts never show up…thats because the government only wants people to hear what they want the to hear. .. i feel bad for the chinese people. . They dont know true freedom… i can say publically that obama is a moron…and he is by the way,… but if a chinese man said this about their president, …jail or death… there is nothing wrong with being a patriot and loving you country… you should, because china has much to be proud of…. but dont be a slave

January 12, 2014 at 12:49

your bloody American media has not reported the success of cryogenic engine jan 3 2014.

December 3, 2013 at 10:13

Nah, those Chinese posters are paid to post. Go search up 50 cent party. It used to be just within China, but they have now spread out to popular foreign websites. It is very easy to spot and I kid you not. Search for any news item related to China, preferably something negative. Scroll to the comments section and you will see several posters defending China.

December 3, 2013 at 16:59

Really? China is copying the US and Japan in paying people to post? LOL. Who is funding this website? Who are the resident writers? Where did they attend college? The answers seem to be uniformly “America”

Sorry to pop your bubble, Bob. But hey, at least you are getting paid, and I’m not. Buy me a beer? (nah, I don’t drink.)

December 2, 2013 at 13:20

@ clueless keys and other chinese posters, here are proofs that you guys are lying, again.

Here are a few links from chinese government websites: (moderators, these are NOT spam):

Facts: US B52s did enter the zone that bully china demanded others notify china or else. And china/chinese would not dare to do anything but more hot air.

Look like another perfect example of humiliation and losing face, again.

December 2, 2013 at 20:13

I don’t read or write Chinese; you don’t seem to read English well. I don’t see the point of in-depth elaboration, as you obviously are a newbie when it comes to history of Sino-american “marine-time “dramas” and related politics and geopolitics. This episode is quite similar to the one in 1996, where the US claimed to have dispatched 2 CVN groups to the Taiwan Strait, when in fact the CVNs stopped some 600km away

There are dozens of links on this topic, I just randomly pick one:

December 3, 2013 at 00:24

@ clueless key,

This is what you said in this article and I quote: “In fact, the B-52s didn’t even venture into the ADIZ,…”

I have not one, but several links from chinese government themselves admit that US B-52s did enter the area and they could not do anything about it but watched helplessly.

Stopy lying again like your master told you to, comrade. Shame and humiliation and losing face in public. So sad.

December 3, 2013 at 07:12

@Observer, please observe the linked pic for 30 minutes, and then think about it for 30 days. If you don’t get it, then you should consider looking for another full time job.

December 3, 2013 at 00:29

Oh, one more thing.

The links I posted written in English so when you said “I don’t read or write Chinese”, it showed that you did not or rather could not face the reality of your big time lying.

Observer 1
clueless key and other chinese posters 0


December 3, 2013 at 09:28

Dear the readers of the Diplomat,

From the three (3) links that I posted, all of them were from the chinese government news sources. They had not choice but did admit two (2) US B52 did enter the zone that china demanded to be notify or else. Bully china could not do a thing but to watch helplessly. So much for the demand of be notify or else. Just a bunch of hot air. Not easy to push around US Air Force and Navy, eh?

Look liker certain member(s) of this site could not read their own propaganda news.

Observer 2
Clueless key and chinese posters 0 (still zero, just like zero response from china when US bombers entered the zone).

December 3, 2013 at 17:04

LOL @ Observer!

You sounded as if you’d found God. Of course, it’s just a newbie’s misplaced excitement. How many hours do you spend a day scouring Chinese websites? Do you write summaries to your propaganda boss in Japan / the US ?

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