Indian Navy - Future lies in a potent Surface fleet or effective Sub-Surface fleet ?

Discussion in 'Indian Navy' started by A.V., Sep 2, 2010.

  1. A.V.

    A.V. New Member

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    A new tug of war has emerged within the indian navy between the surface fleet and the sub-surface fleet some are of the opinion that a potent air wing with a strong strength of AC'S is the way to go with a big fleet of the naval aviation while others are of the opinion of a strong submarine fleet as a threat to any misadventure although both are important but operational doctrines focuses on one aspect more than the other , the debate today is about where does the future of IN lies , whats the correct approach for the future
     
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  3. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

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    cross post:

    N-subs: India debates, China struggles

    An increasingly apparent reason for the Ministry of Defence’s slow decision-making on a second submarine production line for the Indian Navy is: the deep divisions within the navy over India’s submarine force. A debate rages between the submarine arm and the surface navy — particularly the dominant aviation wing — on whether the future lies in submarines or aircraft carriers. The navy’s submariners, meanwhile, debate the merits of conventional versus nuclear-powered submarines.

    Slowed by these internal debates, India’s 30-Year Submarine Construction Plan, which the government approved in 1999, has languished. The 30-Year plan envisioned building 24 conventional submarines in India. Six were to be built from western technology and six with Russian collaboration; then Indian designers, having absorbed the best of both worlds, would build 12 submarines indigenously. Project 75, to build six Scorpene submarines (the “western” six), was contracted in 2005. In this series of articles, Business Standard has reported that the MoD believes it is still 4-6 years away from Project 75I, i.e. beginning work on the second six submarines.

    A senior retired admiral, reflecting the views of the submarine arm, blames the navy’s “aircraft carrier lobby” for the delay in building submarines. He alleges: “The last two naval chiefs (Admirals Arun Prakash and Sureesh Mehta) were aviators, who had no interest in using the navy’s limited budget for building submarines. So they exploited the division of opinion amongst submariners — the nuclear-powered versus conventional submarine debate — to push submarine building into the future.”

    Nuclear-powered submarines are of two types: ballistic missile submarines (called SSBNs) and attack submarines (referred to as SSNs). Both are propelled by power from a miniature on-board reactor, but SSBNs also fire nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles. SSBNs are not a part of the fighting navy; they constitute a country’s nuclear deterrent and fire their nuclear-tipped missiles on orders from the national leadership. SSNs operate as part of a naval fleet, moving under nuclear power and sinking surface warships with conventional torpedoes and missiles.

    Interestingly, India is the only country that has chosen to build SSBNs (the recently-launched INS Arihant, and two successor submarines) before building an SSN force. The reason has been a deeply felt need to operationalise the nuclear triad — land, sea and air-based nuclear delivery systems that India’s Draft Nuclear Doctrine stipulates as a secure second-strike capability.

    But the possibility of an SSN force remains tantalisingly alive. In 2004 — when INS Arihant was being developed under the Advanced Technology Vessel, or ATV, programme — Admiral Arun Prakash, then navy chief, proposed that the ATV programme be enlarged to six SSBNs and four SSNs. This required the allocation of Rs 10,000 crore for the DRDO to develop the necessary technologies. Pranab Mukherjee, then the defence minister, backed the allocation of this funding. But, according to sources close to the ATV project, once AK Antony took over as defence minister in 2006, he backed off, insisting that the Prime Minister’s Office should take all decisions relating to India’s strategic nuclear programme. The proposal for funding technology development lapsed.

    But the Director General of the DRDO, Dr VK Saraswat, confirms that an SSN could be developed without difficulty. Talking to Business Standard, Saraswat said, “I have no charter to build an SSN at the moment. But once the government takes a policy decision… we can start working on it. The only major difference between a nuclear powered attack submarine (i.e. an SSN) and an SSBN is weaponry, and the size changes. The technology for design, packaging, and integration remains similar.”

    Votaries of nuclear submarines, such as Rear Admiral (Retired) Raja Menon, argue that nuclear-powered submarines have a crucial advantage over conventional ones: endurance. While conventional (diesel-electric) submarines are more quiet and harder to detect while submerged, they are easily picked up when they surface to charge their batteries. Furthermore, they move slowly underwater, unlike nuclear submarines, which can remain submerged almost indefinitely. This allows a single nuclear submarine — travelling underwater to its patrol station and remaining there, undetected, for months — to do the job of multiple conventional submarines, which give their position away when they surface at regular intervals.

    Admiral Menon explains, “A single SSN can dominate an area 1,000 nautical miles (1,850 km) away as effectively as three conventional submarines, which require one submarine on station, another transiting to relieve it, and a third transiting back to refuel. If the patrol area is farther than 1,000 nautical miles, a single SSN does the job of five conventional submarines. That is why the US Navy fields an all-nuclear force.”

    But Menon accepts that the Indian Navy would always need conventional submarines. India’s coastal waters are so shallow that SSNs, which typically weigh 4,000-5,000 tonnes, run the risk of scraping the bottom. Conventional submarines, which normally weigh around 1,500 tonnes, are needed for dominating the coastal areas. But the complexities of a nuclear submarine programme are evident from China’s current difficulties. The Pentagon’s recent report to the US Congress, entitled “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, 2010” reveals that China’s SSN and SSBN programmes are in trouble. China relies on its four primitive Han-class attack submarines (Type 091), having decided to close construction of the newer Shen-class (Type 093). Currently, China is grappling with a newer Type 095 SSN; five of these could be added “in the coming years”.

    China also faces problems in developing SSBNs. The first Xia-class (Type 092) SSBN line produced just one submarine, which was never deployed on a deterrence patrol. Then China shifted focus to a newer Jin-class (Type 094), of which the first SSBN “appears ready”, with four more under construction. However, the long-range ballistic missile for the Jin-class SSBNs, termed the Julang-2, has “encountered difficulty… failing several of what should have been the final round of flight tests.”
     
  4. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

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    IN needs all round growth, not in any particular area. If we concentrate too much in one area we will land ourselves in to big problem. Any one fears the one it can not see, that's what subs are for. it will be mistake to sideline the submarine arm. Hope the sanity prevails.

    Surface fleet is for Sea domination (power projection)

    Subs are for sea denial.

    Both are needed, we can not hope to dominate every time at the same time we can not deny the sea to enemy every time. :)
     
  5. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Indeed subs should serve the purpose of denying sea.

    @Submarines

    Can the current fleet IN subs fulfill the job? Considering that at present there is no potential threat in IOR for India. But the future situation can be demanding. Also in a decade when IN's sub fleet is healthy, will Diego Garcia consider it threatening & a measure to deny them deeper access? There would be aggression from USN.

    @ Surface Fleet

    Within few years IN will sport 3 ACs if not actual CBGs. Will these ACs be used to dominate the oceanic oil-routes of PRC while the IN submarine fleet in far eastern IOR might be not that strong? If so then I think PLAN subs will get active in IOR region to neutralize the IN domination. Considering PLAN does not have AC yet & even if operational in several years, there is less probability that it'll be deployed in IOR.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2010
  6. JHA

    JHA Regular Member

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    Both Surface and sub surface fleet is necessary for IN I am little inclined towards Submarines. We need to focus more o Submarines now. Enough projects are running to take care the need of In for quite some time.
     
  7. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Which arm would you prefer to lose? Right or left?? Or right eye or left eye??

    Both are important to various reasons. Nitesh has already come up with them. India being a no first use declared country needs an effective second strike option and the subs give us that. Carriers and surface fleets are required for what they have been traditionally and also the carriers to protect fleet and also secondary strike role.

    So we cannot sacrifice one for the other. What can be done is optimize based on threat perception.
     
  8. keshtopatel

    keshtopatel Regular Member

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    A submarine can fit into the ship, but the ship can not fit into it!

    Both are sea branch assets of a nation.....

    Ships are more vulnerable than vice versa.....

    Such is the deadly force of modern and accurate menacing missiles like Brahmos and Sunburn that Some have even warned that the US Navy's largest ships, the massive carriers, have now become floating death traps, and should be mothballed.

    So far no one has seen the mass cruise missile attack, but should it happen with multiple salvo, above is stark reality!

    QUOTE:

    Had Argentina possessed about fifty Exocet missiles (instead of five which downed two UK frigates/destroyers) during the Falkland war or Guerra De Las Malvinas, they could have converted all British ships to underwater museums. Such is the ferocity of missiles in today's conventional war asymmetry.

    (It was Stinger missile that changed the war scenario of Afghanistan downing most of the Russian choppers-Helicopters)

    Now imagine punching a hole in one of the US aircraft carrier (which comprises of several sister escort ships) and rendering it inoperable or sinking it with couple of more strikes, that would change the course of any war.

    US aircraft carriers or floating airports as they are known, which are the weapons of choice of USG that during the crisis any president is left asking where are our aircraft carriers, cause they don't need any permission from host countries as they perform in international waters and not littoral.


    Forget 1971 Nuke threat a la Kissinger with 7th fleet, USS ENTERPRISE, NO MORE!

    Underwater assets on the contrary are much safer n secure, away from the likes of Tomahawks. Nuke submarine can not be pin pointed underwater, but sure within the radius of couple of miles. Nuclear submarines go deep underwater where optical detection is less practical and to kill it with depth charge is further dificult, cause the depth charge needs to explode in the close vicinity of submarine to peneterate its hull.

    To avoid the depth charge, modern nuclear submarine has to be on the move at full throttle to avoid the detection angle during the crissis.

    During 1971, PNS Ghazi came in the hunt for Vikrant which was travelling to Bay of Bengal. PNS Ghazi (US Gift to Pak) came as far as Vizag, tried to lay mines, and its understood that one of it (Hertz horn) exploded and Ghazi got converted into the underwater grave.......(there are conflicting reports though of its destruction from various accounts).

    Underwater assests are must for a nation having Nuclear triad notion and No First Strike principle like India.

    In fact, the celebrated General (Padmanabahan), who is retired, thereby privy to all
    Indo-US contacts, believes that Washington would prove a threat to
    India`s national interests at some time. Please read his book "Writing on the wall" "India Checkmates America 2017" worth its money.
     
  9. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

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    I think both surface fleet and under water fleet are important for the IN but given the current situation I think it would be wiser to invest more time and money on the underwater fleet. We need more advanced conventional subs as well as SSBNs to make our Navy extremely powerful and give a boost to concept of nuclear triad.
     
  10. jatkshatriya

    jatkshatriya Regular Member

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    i think indian navy should not be classified as surface and sub surface terms....it should take into considertaion its objectives....we have a vast coastline to defend plus as a military power we should be able to project power....according to me we should broadly classify our navy according to the two roles
    1) DEFENCE OF OUR COASTLINES- we should have a good mix of conventional submarines and surface fleet with stealth destroyers and frigattes, we should have naval airforce bases near our coastal regions directly under the control of navy fieldin air superiority fighters such as PAKFA and MCA plus anti ship fighters such as mig -29k ,LCA .Our navy should have a potent air arm to defend its waters near the land.As pointed earlier conventional submarines are good in this role as they will have to stay near the coastlines and the waters are also shallow , so replenishment wont be a problem ,plus they will be getting the support of our naval air arm.There should be anti ship missile launchers with a range of 1000 km + all along our coastline.A battalion should be raised which will have special training in coastal defence and must be eqipped with patrol boats which will work in conjungtion with the coast guard, which should get inputs from all the survelliance equipments to prevent terror attacks like mumbai plus in times of need can take offensive actions on the shores of the neighbouring countries.If India really shows some courage then it should construct a few undersea naval bases and defence complex.Two conventional aircraft carriers with support crafts should be fielded in regions just beyond the reach of our naval air arm.
    2} BLUE WATER NAVY-PROJECTING POWER- now this is where u have to give a deep thought.A nuclear aircraft carrier is a must , nuclear SSNs and SSBNs are also a must here .So a single or two nuclear powered aircraft carriers along with 5 SSBNS and 8 SSNS , plus a few ultra hightech destroyers and frigates with attack hovercrafts and supply tanks...our navy should have the ability to deploy atleast 1000 fully equipped men on any coast within 24 hours ..that will be true power projection..
    So these two responsibilities should have a diff mix of vessels accordingly and both the offensive and the defensive arm should be under one command and control...all the ships interconnected throug C2I4 so that each ship or even a patrol boat act as a sensor,plus a dediocayted naval satellite.Plus india now should build bases further away from our land.
     
  11. roma

    roma NRI in Europe Senior Member

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    Neither !

    It depends on keeping up - especially with the sea-dragon ... so it really depends on the economy and equally importantly the political will to USE or at lest show and threaten ( in a defensive way ) the willingness to use whatever it takes including nuclear weapons against the sea-dragon
     
  12. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    x-posting


    An increasingly three-way bitter battle is raging in the Indian Navy between supporters of aircraft carrier construction and those who favor submarine building. The latter group is further split between those submariners who wish to concentrate on nuclear submarine construction and those who wish to see additional production of diesel-electric submarines.

    It is this three-way fight that has seriously delayed the second phase of India's Project 75 diesel-electric submarine program.

    Project 75 envisioned building 24 conventional submarines in India. Six were to be built from Western technology and six with Russian collaboration; then Indian designers, having absorbed the best of both worlds, would build 12 submarines indigenously.

    Project 75, to build six Scorpene submarines (the "Western" six), was contracted in 2005. The Indian MoD believes it is still four to six years away from Project 75I; i.e., beginning work on the second six submarines. In addition, the wisdom of building the second group of six boats using Russian technology has been questioned.

    However, the Indian Navy carrier lobby, headed by the last two naval chiefs, has no interest in using the Navy’s limited budget for building submarines. So the lobby has exploited the division of opinion among submariners over whether to concentrate on nuclear-powered versus conventional submarines to push submarine building into the future.

    The lobbyists have argued that India needs SSBNs to make the long-sought-after Indian nuclear triad a reality and provide a secure second strike capability. However, SSBNs are not a part of the fighting navy; they constitute a country’s nuclear deterrent, and fire their nuclear-tipped missiles on orders from the national leadership. The Navy therefore argues that the service should be funded from Indian government sources, not as part of the Indian Navy budget.

    Supporters of nuclear submarine construction argue that SSNs are necessary to protect the SSBNs. They also point out that while diesel-electric submarines are quiet and hard to detect while submerged, they are easily picked up when they surface to charge their batteries. Furthermore, they move slowly underwater. These considerations allow a single nuclear submarine to do the job of multiple conventional submarines, which give their position away when they surface at regular intervals. Diesel-electric submarine supporters reply that India’s coastal waters are so shallow that SSNs, which typically weigh 4,000-5,000 tonnes, run the risk of scraping the bottom. Conventional submarines, which normally weigh around 1,500 tonnes, are needed for dominating the coastal areas.

    This split in the submarine lobby has left the aviation supporters dominant in current Indian Navy policy decision-making. This factor may well see construction of India's indigenous aircraft carriers accelerating at the expense of the submarine fleet.
     
  13. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    We need to have a bit of both you know...Our surface fleet is really in a good position with additional tankers and other secondary ships coming in steadily. Also IN is considering Mistral class ships once France completes Russia's orders. The aircraft carriers are on the way with the MiGs already being inducted. So we don't have to worry much about surface fleets. But we have to SERIOUSLY consider that we are now left with 1/3rd the submarines than what we should actually have considering the global rank of our navy in terms of size and manpower.

    We in today's times should be equipped with at least 25-30 attack diesel electric submarines along with 5-8 SSBNs. This would be half of what China has still but still is a decent enough size considering that our surface fleet is much more modern than PLAN's quantitative fleet. Our 1 achievement shouldn't make us sit back as submarines are the invisible killers of the deep and having the latest cutting edge SSNs and SSBNs is the need of the hour.
     

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