A Study to Formulate Organisational and Operational Contours for Implementation of MTC is in Progress
The navy was exploring various possibilities with respect to autonomous systems/ platforms and AI-driven technologies, including Big Data Analytics (BDA). What distance have you covered and what does the road ahead look like?
Indian Navy is a technology intensive force which has invested significant efforts to remain abreast of technological developments. Towards this end, IN endeavours are founded in the MoD’s AI Task Force Report of 2018, in partnership with industry, academia and DRDO/ R&D laboratories.
The release of Unmanned Systems Roadmap is a key enabler towards this end. This roadmap provides a clear plan for induction of autonomous systems, including indigenous developments.
Data is an important starting point for AI driven technologies. Towards this end, the navy has promulgated a Policy on Data Governance and Management including a Common Data Framework in May this year. This policy sets into motion enterprise level Data Unification and Analytics in all spheres of its activities for creating trusted data sets, which can be used for both analytics and AI/ ML.
We have made considerable progress with respect to digitisation and new technologies. We are in the process of releasing our Digital Vision 2.0.
While the RFP for P-75(I) programme has been issued, analysts believe that it is the case of too little too late. The technology would be obsolete by the time it is inducted, hence navy should instead invest in nuclear-powered submarines. What do you think about this?
Submarine construction is a complex activity, wherein the equipment envisaged for induction on-board are selected considering the present technology, availability of product support and feasibility of up-gradation in future. Thereafter, regular upgrades or replacement of the equipment is undertaken as part of obsolescence management to remain abreast of developments and emerging technologies.
The Technical Requirements for Project-75(I) have been prepared taking all the above factors into consideration. The Navy is also cognisant of the rapid pace of technological development in these niche fields and would ensure that the most suitable technology would be inducted on-board its submarines.
With regard to nuclear-powered submarines, I believe that both conventional and nuclear propulsion have their own specific advantages, delivering unique capabilities that allow for specific operational outcomes. The Indian Navy requires a balanced mix of conventional and nuclear-powered submarines to protect India’s national interests in the maritime domain.
How does the navy envisage Maritime Theatre Command (MTC)? There is speculation that while Western Naval Command and Eastern Naval Command will merge as one Command, what will happen to the Andaman & Nicobar Command?
The Services are progressing their respective studies on theaterisation in parallel, under the aegis of Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff. The navy envisages that the Maritime Theatre Commander will be responsible for application of military power in the maritime domain. A study to formulate organisational and operational contours for implementation of MTC is in progress. The study group has members from all Services and will clearly define the nuances of organisation and function.
Given the delicate balance that the navy must strike between budgetary allocations and capability-building, what are your procurement priorities in the short, medium and long term?
Combat readiness is our raison d’etre, and potent and precise ordnance delivery on target is its sole measure, these drive our modernisation plans. Accordingly, modernisation of the Indian Navy is being progressed as per a comprehensive plan and efforts are under-way to achieve the requisite force levels within a reasonable time frame and available fiscal envelope.
Today the Indian Navy is a balanced, modern, contemporary multi-dimensional force capable of undertaking a wide gamut of operations in the Indian Ocean Region and beyond. It includes more than 130 ships and submarines and over 230 aircraft.
Since platform acquisition has a long gestation period, what kind of force multipliers are you focussing on for more ‘bang for your buck’?
The navy is being modernised to create capabilities for accomplishing a range of missions across the entire spectrum of threats and challenges. One of the many initiatives for optimisation is Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUMT), which involves exploiting niche technology and optimising manpower. Towards this end, the present force levels are being augmented/ modernised according to a laid down long term plan. Modernisation of the navy is being driven by undiluted focus on acquiring combat ready ships, submarines, aircraft and support infrastructure as well as various niche technologies and unmanned solutions including AI and BDA.
How does China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) affect Indian Navy’s outreach in the IOR as the Preferred Security Partner?
China’s search for energy and mineral resources, and newer markets for finished goods has led to a steady increase in her engagement with littorals of the Indian Ocean. This engagement frequently manifests itself in the form of Chinese involvement and assistance in infrastructural projects in these countries. China has also been increasing its presence in the IOR through frequent deployments of PLA (Navy) ships and submarines.
China seems to be focused on rapidly developing naval capabilities, not only in terms of platforms but also in furthering their reach through development of bases to operate from. The commissioning of the Chinese Military Base at Djibouti in 2017 has enabled the PLA (Navy) to enhance its reach and sustenance in the Indian Ocean. With involvement of China in the development of Gwadar port in Pakistan, we can expect an increase in deployment of PLA (Navy) units in the IOR in future.
The ties between India and IOR littorals have developed over centuries of trading, and people to people links. Further, the vastness of the IOR, and realisation that no one nation can tackle non-traditional threats alone, clearly underpin the necessity of a collaborative approach to maritime security. Owing to the central geographic location of India, its inclusive world view and initiatives to contribute to regional maritime security, India is seen as the ‘Preferred Security Partner’ in the region.
The Indian Navy is seized of the security implications of these developments and maintains a close watch on them. We are constantly fine-tuning our concept of operations and acquisition plans to cater to the developing scenario. The operational outcomes evolving from our strategic imperatives in the IOR are factored in our planning to ensure that the Indian Navy remains poised to deter and counter threats to national interests in the maritime domain.