The growing might of Indian Navy is a cause of concern for Pakistan’s naval strategists. Pakistan unlike India possesses a short coastline, and maritime territory, but due to its proximity to strait of Hormuz, one of the most robust and busy sea lanes of the world, famous for its oil trade, the significance of Pakistan maritime territory is more than Indian maritime territory. In 1971, Pakistani merchant fleet was obliterated by the Indian Navy assaults on non-combatant ships, reliving the notorious legends of U-Boat assaults on British and US Navy merchant fleets in first and second world wars. The post 1971 offers Pakistan to look outside Karachi and develop farther posts for ship and submarine basing, to thwart any prospect of blockade by the Indian Navy. Pakistan Navy successfully emerges from a fledging force to a fighting machine, with developing more naval bases away from Indian Naval reach. But Indian growing economy is resulting in its acquisition of more and more naval war fighting platforms, to neutralize any long term advantage of the Pak Navy.
Indian Navy PINPOINT Acquisition:
Undersea Warfare Domain:
Having at relatively disadvantageous position vis-à-vis Pakistan Navy in Undersea Warfare, Indian Navy accelerated its acquisition of various Anti-Submarine Warfare platforms, ranging from Sea-based to Air, their acquisition of such advanced naval platforms will definitely have negative impact on Pakistan’s edge against India in undersea domain. The development of INS Kamorta and INS Kadmatt and upcoming 2 ships of the Kamorta Class stealth corvettes (INS Kitan & INS Kavarati), are the most advanced ships to track down undersea objects and eliminate them. The Indian Navy plans to pit a stealth surface corvettes against enemy subs, is a short and long term plan as well, short term in a sense that Indian navy have old fledging submarines, and submarine building will take years, to fix, that problem, Indian Navy is commissioning its home grown fleet of ships into its surface fleet. These advanced ships are contributing to Indian Navy’s lethality and will effect Pakistan naval calculations in any future encounter with India.
Naval Air Arm:
Indian Navy traditionally lacked a superior technology in its naval air arm to disturb Pakistan Air Sea calculations, and detection of its submarines, hidden under the depth of oceans, but the new Boeing P-8I Poseidon coupled with Kamorta class submarines, will definitely effect Pakistani submarine operations in the Arabian Sea, or its more extended area of operations, for intelligence gathering. The Poseidon is the most advanced Naval Air reconnaissance aircraft in the world. Pakistan with its Lockheed P-3 Orion is successfully conducting its routine operations, and was in advantageous position vis-à-vis India, but the presence of Poseidon, will affect this edge enjoyed by Pakistan naval Air Arm.
Surface Fleet Renovation.
The Indian Navy from past ten years is busy in updating and replacing its entire surface fleet with make in India technology. The latest Kolkata Class destroyers are the proof that Indian Navy successfully developed and deployed one of the most advanced ships in its naval fleet. The Kolkata are a class of stealth guided missile destroyers built by the Indian Navy, two of the ships of the Kolkata Class INS Kolkata and Kochi are already commissioned in the Indian Navy, and third and final one will be commissioned in the latter half of the 2016. These destroyers which are stealth as well will add further muscle, confidence and flexibility to the Navy’s operational plans. The recently approved continental shelf by the UNCLOS, not just expanded Pakistan maritime footprints but added an additional responsibility to Pakistan’s Sea defenders to come up with a force that cannot just protect its territorial waters but also ensure their presence along the expanded Pakistani maritime territory to regulate the SLOCs traversing Pakistani continental shelf. Pakistan is said to have the largest amount of shale oil and gas, beneath its seabed. This factor alone can contribute to attracting potential aggressors like India which can deeply its growing naval power, and can disrupt Pakistani plans to extract its ocean wealth.
Naval Propulsion/ Aircraft carriers and SSBNs
Indian Navy from the beginning started operating the first Aircraft carrier in the form of INS Vikrant, which played a key role in the blockade imposed by Indian Navy on Pakistan. The Ex Royal Navy ship was decommissioned in 1997 by the Indian Navy, but the Indian Naval planners thought that it will be folly to lose the experience which they gained from operating an aircraft carrier, thus they decided to buy the decommissioned ship the ex-Admiral Ghorshkov and later renamed as Baku. Thus they started negotiations with India to transform Baku expanded deck into an air strip for its Mig 29, the project took almost 2 decades, and three Government tenures, but finally the Baku was re-commissioned in the Indian Navy INS Vikramaditya, with its addition, the Indian navy can produce a 500 km air surveillance bubble, complicating and disrupting Pakistan Navy’s area of operation. The new Indian Navy SSBNs INS Chakra and others possess a serious threat to the Pakistan diesel and air independent propulsion submarines, because in conflict scenario, Nuclear propelled ship and submarine, can sustain much longer than traditionally fuelled submarine or ship. The naval propulsion will add further lethality to Indian Navy, because they will remain active in the conflict area much longer than the Pakistani navy.
The rapid economic boom of India resulted in its expansion of naval fleet, on the context that India wants to confront the growing prowess of Chinese Navy in its backyard. But Indian Naval expansion is eroding the naval stability in the region. Pakistan cannot beef up the naval acquisition because of its fledging economy. The debt stricken country needs to spend wisely and reinvigorate its economy, so that naval stability can be maintained against the traditional foes. Pakistan’s expanded maritime footprints and the development of Gwadar port, expansion of its future maritime trade and its proximity to various naval and maritime chokepoints, Pakistan needs a robust presence in the Arabian Sea and beyond. The Combined Task Force CTF-151 is a good contribution to fill the traditional absence in the far seas, but Pakistan needs to beef up the construction and acquisition of various naval platforms to maintain stability in the waters.
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