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Facing budgetary constraints Indian Navy to prioritize its requirements: Naval Chief Admiral Karmbir Singh

Huma Siddiqui
He said that to cope with the dwindling budget, the Navy keeps balance so that it does not adversely affect its capabilities. (ANI Image)

A top officer of the Indian Navy has expressed concern over the continuing decline in its budgetary allocation and has conveyed its concern about this to the government. Interacting with the media at the annual press conference, Naval Chief Admiral Karmbir Singh said that the Navy had 18 per cent of the country’s total defence budget in the fiscal year 2012-13, which has been steadily decreasing to just 13 per cent in FY 2018-19.

The capital allocation for the Indian Navy is presently Rs 23, 156.43 crore while the IAF got the highest amount totalling Rs 39, 302.64 crore and the Indian Army has got Rs 29,461.25 crore.

He said that to cope with the dwindling budget, the Navy keeps balance so that it does not adversely affect its capabilities.

The concerns come just ahead of the annual budget to be presented in February. The Indian Navy is looking for a hike in its budget between Rs 5000-6000 crore, this would help in taking effective measures for strengthening maritime security in view of the increasing threat from China and Pakistan.

Significantly, in October, Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar had also said that the budget is low and the Navy can demand additional assistance of 20,000 crore from the government, given the needs of modernization of the Navy.

To fight off any unexpected threats or low intensity conflict, the Navy is in need of state-of-the-art weapons, including multirole helicopters.

According to the naval chief the Navy is building 50 ships and submarines, including 48 shipyards. "While the country's first indigenous aircraft carrier will be fully operational by 2022, the Indian Navy plans to include three aircraft carriers in its fleet so that two can always be operational," he added.

In response to a question Navy's plan to meet this cash crunch, the chief said "our planning is done keeping our requirements and funds in mind. We will prioritize our requirements."

Despite the shortage of funds, the first indigenously designed and manufactured aircraft carrier INS Vikrant (IAC-I), which is under construction at Cochin shipyard, will be operational by 2022 with MiG-29K fighter aircraft and advocated for a second indigenously designed and manufactured aircraft carrier.

INS Vikrant

He said that all ship build issues are over and trials would begin now. "We are almost certain that we will take delivery by February-March 2021. Aviation trials would take a year after that."

Though there should be minimum of three aircraft carriers in service so that at any given time two are operational, today India has one operational aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.

To a question about the design consultants, Singh said the Navy is preparing the case and finalising the requirements after which they would go to the government for Acceptance of Necessity (AoN). Only after that design consultancy would be taken up to decide the exact contours. "As of now the Navy envisaged the proposed carrier to be 65,000 tons with Catapult Assisted Takeoff but Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) and full electric propulsion."

LCA for the Indian Navy:

According to the chief, the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) has offered to develop a new twin-engine deck based fighter for the Navy based on the experience of the Naval Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and it should be ready by 2026.

"The Qualitative Requirements (QR) is being made. They said they should be able to push it out by 2026. If it meets our time and QR requirements we will definitely take it," he said.