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By Bulbul Singh

06 Dec 06. The Indian Navy has set out a multi billion dollar modernization program under which it will carry out procurement of several new weaponry such as rotary UAVs, long range maritime surveillance aircraft, anti-submarine warfare helicopters, and stealth frigates.

Besides, the Navy has also undertaken some modernization programs to reach out and operate in extended areas in the Indian Ocean.

The proposed acquisition would be worth $10bn and spread over the next five to seven years.

Indian Navy officials said plans have been finalized for acquisition of eight long range spy planes. Negotiations are already underway with Lockheed Martin for the purchase of used P3 Orion C, P 8 of Boeing and Russian IL-38. The homemade supersonic anti ship missile, BrahMos will be mounted on all the Indian warships, including the three Stealth class frigates being bought from Russia. Besides, 14 Sea Harriers sea fighters will also be upgraded.

The Indian Navy has also given an order for the construction of 27 warships and six Scoprpene submarines will be built under license production from France. The steel cutting has started for the submarines and the subs will be constructed at Mumbai based Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL).

The Indian Navy is also floating global tender by early next year for the purchase of 12 helicopter-launched UAVs to boost the surveillance capability. Shore based UAVs are an area already in use by the Indian Navy to keep a vigil over a distance of 300 kilometres

The Indian Navy is also negotiating for the purchase of submarines from overseas countries other than Scorpene submarines to shore up defences against the Chinese navy build up which includes nuclear submarines. India’s homegrown ATV nuclear submarine is also under construction and is expected to be inducted by 2012. The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshokov which is currently undergoing refit in Russia will be inducted in 2008, and the landing deck platform (LDP) USS Trenton will also be inducted in the Indian Navy by that time.

After acquiring three Talwar class guided missile stealth frigates from Russia, the Navy is awaiting three more ships of the same class, but with an advanced technology from Russia. These three ships are expected to join the Navy sometime in 2011.

The current strength of the Indian Navy includes around 140 vessels, which includes one aircraft carrier, 21 surface combatants, 3 fleet tankers, 8 Guided Missile Corvettes, 6 Offshore Patrol vessels, 8 amphibious ships, 16 submarines, 17 fast attack craft, and 57 other combatants.

An Indian Navy official said, the maritime interests of the Indian Navy include 13 major and 185 minor ports that stud India’s 7516 kilometers long coastline. The official said the Indian Ocean is now the highway along which over a quarter of the world’s trade and energy requirements move. “We are the geographical fulcrum of the Indian Ocean region and out interests are in extricable linked to the seas around us. 90% of our trade by volume and 75 % by value moves via the sea” remarked the Indian Navy official.

The Indian Navy has also adopted a new naval doctrine which for the first time calls for preparedness for littoral warfare. The Indian Navy is also finalizing a Container Security Initiative which entails protecting maritime traffic from the Malacca Straits to Gulf of Hormuz. It is for this surveillance need that the Indian Navy is buying rotary UAVs.

The Indian navy official added that the Navy needed to bolster its long range surveillance capability to keep vigil on movements in the region between the Horn of Africa and Malacca Straits and even in South China Sea.

The Indian Navy is also setting up futuristic bases and has planned a futuristic base 50 kilometers south of Vishakapatnamin the central Indian state of Andhra Prdesh. The homemade Air Defense Ship ai

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