China remains a formidable challenge, Pakistan is continuing military modernisation, says Navy Chief

China remains a formidable challenge, Pakistan is continuing military modernisation, says Navy Chief


Admiral R. Hari Kumar said that by leveraging anti-piracy operations, China has increased its presence in the Indian Ocean Region

Admiral R. Hari Kumar said that by leveraging anti-piracy operations, China has increased its presence in the Indian Ocean Region

China remains a formidable challenge and has increased its presence, not only along our land borders, but also in the maritime domain by leveraging anti-piracy operations to normalise its naval presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), Navy Chief Admiral R. Hari Kumar said on Wednesday while talking of the security challenges that India faces.

On their experience with Russian equipment, he said they are reliable and while there have been teething issues with some of the systems, they have been getting good support from Russia. Some technologies which we are not been able to get from any other sources, they have been able to support us, Adm Kumar said. “In that sense, we have really been receiving good support from Russia over the years.”

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“While competition is being played out on a daily basis – at times testing limits – but without escalating into armed action, a war with potential adversaries can never be ruled out,” Adm. Kumar said speaking at the 49th annual management convention of the All India Management Association. “To the West, Pakistan – despite economic constraints – has continued its military modernisation, especially its Navy, which is on track to becoming a 50-platform force,” he added.

Noting that China has been in the Indian Ocean since 2008 using anti-piracy operations “as the reason”, Adm. Kumar said since then there has been continuous presence in the region. “At any point we have anything between 5-8 Chinese Navy units, be it warships or research vessels and a host of Chinese fishing vessels operating in the IOR. We keep a watch on them and see how they are undertaking their activities in the IOR,” he said.

Indian Navy’s indigenisation

Noting that China now has a base in Djibouti, and have been involved in development of various ports in the IOR, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan and so many other countries, the Navy Chief said stressed, “Our capability plans and developments that we are looking at is not based on a nation, it is based upon our requirements to protect, preserve and promote our national interests.”

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That is how we structure our force and while structuring the force and developing the capability, these get factored and enable us to keep the Indian Ocean under surveillance, Adm. Kumar said. We have aircraft sorties, ships deployed almost 24X7 to keep an eye on the IOR, he stated.

Talking of Indian Navy’s lead in indigenisation efforts, Adm. Kumar said while 29 ships commissioned in the last seven years were all constructed in India, 38 out of 40 ships presently under construction are also being built at Indian Shipyards. “Further, 39 ships under contract conclusion, will similarly be indigenous – our aim is for the Navy to be fully Aatmanirbhar by 2047,” he said.

On the Russia-Ukraine war

Responding to a question on the war in Ukraine, the Navy Chief said it has important lessons and a key reminder is that it is easy to start a war but it is a major challenge to terminate it. There are lessons in the naval blockade and use of drones and precision munitions, Adm. Kumar said as also key lessons is in the use of media and social media to weaponisation of the cognitive domain. “You don’t know who to believe,” he added.

In addition to the conventional threats, Adm. Kumar also flagged the threat of terrorism and also challenges imposed by piracy, arms and drug smuggling, illegal immigration among others.