BENGALURU: Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Robin K Dhowan placed emphasis on self-reliance and indigenisation of the armed forces, especially the Indian Navy.
He was speaking at the second annual Admiral R L Pereira Memorial Lecture organised by The Navy Foundation (Bengaluru), along with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), in the city on Saturday.
“The Navy’s blueprint revolves around the ‘Make in India’ concept. In fact, the country is not new to this, as, in 1961, India’s first indigenous ship was built. The Navy, at present, has no foreign orders anywhere. Currently, work on 41 ships and submarines is being carried out at Indian dockyards — both private and government-owned. We will need the support of organisations like Defence Research and Development Organisation and BEL to achieve this,” Dhowan said. He expressed confidence that the force is well equipped to handle any exigency.
When asked about the recent incident wherein a Pakistani vessel was spotted by the Coast Guard, after which it blew up, Dhowan added that India has a vast coastline which needs to be guarded.
“Taking into account just the western part, there are thousands of merchant ships and around 2.4 lakh boats that operate in the area. Keeping all this in mind, it is imperative to ensure that our waters are well guarded. In this regard, there is a National Command Control Communication Intelligence (NC3I) network, of which 20 stations are operated by the Navy. Patrolling has been stepped up while surveillance is being given a fillip in the form of drones and UAVs,” he added.
Padma Bhushan Arogyaswami Paulraj, a retired Commodore and recipient of 2014’s Marconi Prize, said global warming and terrorism are the main factors that can hamper the global security set-up.
Paulraj further said that Indian soldiers need deeper understanding of science and technology to be on par with forces across the world. Former Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Fali H Major, Navy Foundation (Bengaluru) president Commodore (retd) Ray D’Souza, vice-president Commodore (retd) Fali Dubash were present.
‘LCA Project Must be Fast-tracked’
Dhowan said the MiG 29 K (naval variant of the fighter aircraft) has been inducted and is operational. He also added that the Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) is operational, and is based at the Eastern Naval Command at Visakhapatnam while six P8I reconnaissance aircraft have been bought, with two more expected. When asked about the naval version of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), which recently had trials in Goa, Dhowan said, “They (tests) have been satisfactory. However, the project has been delayed. We have asked for it to be fast-tracked as the fleet of LCAs will be used on the INS Vikrant (under construction at Cochin Shipyard), which will be commissioned in 2018.” When asked about the status of INS Arihant, India’s nuclear-powered submarine, Dhowan declined to reply.