The naval build-up in South Asia is beginning to appear: New Delhi is planing to spend billions to grow its fleet, starting with new ships that will specialize in hunting subs. Bloomberg reports:
The Kadmatt is a submarine killer, bristling with technology to sniff out and destroy underwater predators. It’s the second of four warships in India’s first dedicated anti-submarine force — a key part of plans to spend at least $61 billion on expanding the navy’s size by about half in 12 years. […]India plans to add at least 100 new warships, including two aircraft carriers, as well as three nuclear powered submarines capable of firing nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles. It will also tender for submarine-rescue vessels, a first for a navy that’s operated submarines for four decades. […]“India’s naval build-up is certainly occurring in the context of India moving towards a greater alignment with U.S. and its allies to balance China,” said David Brewster, a specialist in Indo-Pacific security at the Australian National University in Canberra. “India wants to be able to demonstrate that Beijing’s activities in South Asia do not come without a cost, and Delhi is also able to play in China’s neighborhood.”
India is the world’s biggest importer of weapons and it has traditionally relied on Russia as its main supplier, but this story shows that its recent efforts to develop the capacity to manufacture arms at home is beginning to pay off. As China continues to seek greater naval power through a combination of sheer numbers of ships and the creation of friendly bases (the so-called “string of pearls”), it appears New Delhi has no intention of taking China’s regional ambitions lying down; the country is no more willing than Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, and Australia to see China dominate the Indian Ocean. A $61 billion naval buildup is nothing to laugh at, and it’s just getting under way.