India to keep eye on China’s growing naval presence in Indian Ocean: Navy chief

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India to keep eye on China’s growing naval presence in Indian Ocean: Navy chief

Friday, 26 July 2019 | Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

With China stressing that it envisages building a strong Navy in its white paper on defence, posing a threat to the Indian interests especially in the Indian Ocean region, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh said here on Thursday they have to watch and see how “we can respond within our budget and constraints that we have”. China released the white paper on Wednesday.

“It is not just the Chinese white paper, it has been said in the past also. Lot of resources has been shifted from other arms to the PLA Navy obviously in line with their intention to become a global power. We have to watch that and see how we can respond within our budget and constraints that we have,” he said in his first interaction with the media since he took over as Chief of Naval Staff on May 31.  The Navy chief made this observation on the sidelines of a seminar on 'nation building through shipbuilding' jointly organized by the Navy and industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

On the Navy's budgetary constraints Singh said they require long term fiscal support to build a Navy. “That is the only way we can plan,” he stated.  As regards the proposed second Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-II) which has been on the drawing board for some time but yet to be approved by the government, Singh said he cannot give any timeline.

He said the Navy's plan is to build a 65,000 tonne carrier with possibly electric propulsion and a Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) so that 'if we have three aircraft carriers we can have two operational at any given time,” he said adding the plan to build an IAC-II is part of the Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCPP) 2012-27.  The first Indigenous carrier Vikrant is under advanced stage of construction and is expected to be delivered to the Navy by February 2021 and commissioned by early 2023 after aviation trials.

Stressing the need for prudence and optimisation of every rupee spent, the Navy chief said time and cost overruns in ship construction create challenges in budget management. Dismissing narratives that warship-building is a drain on the economy, he said on the contrary a very large proportion of every rupee spent on the Navy is ploughed back.

More than 60% of the Naval budget is dedicated to Capital expenditure, Singh observed and said adding more than 70% of this capital budget has been spent on indigenous sourcing, amounting to nearly Rs 66,000 crore in the last five years.

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