India needs to pay attention to its navy’s aviation arm

India Sea Harrier.jpg

India’s navy has only 11 BAE Sea Harriers left in its fleet. The service inducted close to 30 of the fighters in the 1980s, but more than half have been lost in accidents.

The latest crash took place last week, resulting in the temporary grounding of the aircraft.

The navy was due to take delivery of its first of 16 RSK MiG-29K/KUBs in 2004, but that is now likely to take place at the end of the year. The country’s Aeronautical Development Agency is also working on a naval version of the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft, but a prototype has yet to fly.

All of that has left India without a proper naval fighter fleet and the country’s sole aircraft carrier without a viable squadron. That, really, exemplifies the sorry state of affairs in the country’s military.

In recent years, the country has been accelerating a modernisation programme for its military. Much of the attention has been on the air force – and rightly so. It is time, however, for the bureaucrats to turn their eyes to the navy’s requirements.

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6 Responses to India needs to pay attention to its navy’s aviation arm

  1. Dave 2 September, 2009 at 4:18 am #

    It was a mistake to have purchased the Gorschkov. What might have been a better option would have been to develop their own CV with a catapult launch system and perhaps a few Rafales to fly of the said carrier. It would have cost just as much as this disaster. I would have suggested buy a De Gaulle class vessel from the French, but I’m not sure US would be willing to sell a stream catapult to India- France buys their cats from the USN.

  2. Siva Govindasamy 2 September, 2009 at 10:44 am #

    You know, I think the entire naval planning has been a mess. I just hope the new Indian naval chief can put things right. There is just so much that the navy requires that has not been satisfied over the last few years.

  3. Dave 2 September, 2009 at 3:09 pm #

    That’s very true. India has historically always neglected Naval power in favor of the land forces. This was true since during the Mauryan dynasty, the Guptas, the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughal period, and as it turns out the current period. I think the last time the naval was actually considered important was during the Chola Dynasty. Maybe with a stable government, things will change… though I wouldn’t count on it.

  4. Siva Govindasamy 2 September, 2009 at 4:18 pm #

    That is probably because the threat has always been seen as land-based (from the North) or more recently air-based. There is no real naval threat, per se, unless we start to include the Chinese and their attempts to set up bases in the Indian Ocean.

    If we look at it from a power projection perspective, India has a lot to gain by becoming a bigger naval power. Historically, India (or its constituent kingdoms, given that there was no united country) was a major power when it had a strong navy. You can see the influence the Cholas, for example, had in Southeast Asia.

  5. Dave 3 September, 2009 at 9:00 am #

    That’s very true- right until the British showed up and took advantage of the country’s internal disarray. The threat was historically in the northwest. Unfortunately, only the Cholas had any sort of foresight…

    The neglect of naval power was one of the few major failures of Mughal Empire at its zenith- the country was strong and united, but was focused totally on land power despite early signs that the enemy would show up from the sea. The constant piracy of imperial shipping should have been a warning sign, but they did nothing.

    Then Aurangzeb managed to completely destroy the foundations of the empire, and when the British arrived there was no organized resistance to meet them. If the Emperor had been less of a tool, perhaps the colonial enslavement of India would never have happened.

  6. Siva Govindasamy 3 September, 2009 at 10:35 am #

    Whoa! That’s a whole different issue to get into mate!

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