INS Kalvari boosts India's submarine fleet amid growing Chinese challenge

04 Aug 2017 | Written by Abheet Sethi; Edited by Gogona Saikia

The Indian Navy is preparing to commission INS Kalvari, a diesel-electric submarine which is among the world's stealthiest, after several years of delay.

The Kalvari's commissioning will provide a much-needed boost to India's under-sea capabilities which are fledgling in comparison to China which is making forays into the Indian Ocean.

India has a total of 15 submarines, four times less than China's 60.

In context: India's dwindling submarine fleet gets much-needed boost

13 May 2017Chinese submarine, snubbed by Colombo, moving to Karachi?

In May, it was reported that since December'13, China has regularly sent vessels to the Indian Ocean citing anti-piracy measures.

Recently, the Indian Navy's surveillance aircraft detected a Chinese Yuan-class submarine, part of the Chinese navy's anti-piracy taskforce, when it crossed the Malacca Strait.

India has been keeping a watch after Colombo refused it permission to dock. It is likely to head to Karachi.

04 Aug 2017INS Kalvari boosts India's submarine fleet amid growing Chinese challenge

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Vintage fleetIndian Navy's diesel-electric submarines are all over 20 years old

The Indian navy's attack submarine fleet has declined from 21 diesel-electric vessels in 1996 to 13 because the navy was unable to replace retired boats.

Overall, the current fleet which comprises of nine Russian-origin Kilo-class and four German HDW submarines are at least 20 years old and have undergone regular refits to keep them operational till at least 2025.

Expert: Government's poor planning of sub procurement amounts to "negligence"

"The lack of long-term planning and procurement commitment in defence acquisition plans can be considered tantamount to negligence" by the Indian government, said Pushan Das, a research fellow at Observer Research Foundation. He said India must counter the Chinese navy's Indian Ocean push.

Modernization program Indian Navy's submarine modernization program explained

The INS Kalvari is the first of six Project 75, French-made Scorpene submarines ordered in 2005 at a cost of $3.7 billion.

In February 2015, the government approved the construction of six nuclear-powered attack submarines worth $9.5 billion.

On July 21, India initiated a program to build advanced six Project 75(I) submarines worth $5 billion. India has requested proposals from six foreign manufacturers.

India en route to failing 2030 fleet deadline

India is also building up to four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines for its nuclear deterrence capability. Despite its ongoing submarine programs, India will likely fail to meet its 2030 deadline to shore up its undersea fleet.
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AnalysisDespite growing presence, China years away from seriously challenging India

"Simple geography gives India a huge strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean," said David Brewster, of the Australian National University.

He said China may be deploying submarines in Indian Ocean but its decades away from seriously threatening India, especially given the US' presence in the region.

India has also deployed surveillance planes at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to monitor China's naval presence.