Saturday, December 11, 2010
Navy retires INS Vagli, India down to 14 subs
The last of India's Foxtrot-class submarines, INS Vagli, will retire after 36 years of operational service on Thursday. But the well-deserved nostalgia over INS Vagli's yeoman service should come with a harsh reality check.
India is now down to just 14 ageing submarines, with only eight to nine operational at any given time. It will get progressively worse. By the time Navy gets the first of the six Scorpene submarines being built at Mazagon Docks in 2015 — the Rs 23,562-crore project is already running three years behind schedule — only 10 submarines will be operational.
Latest projections, in fact, show India will have only five of the existing 10 Russian Kilo-class and four German HDW submarines by 2020. And only two by 2022.
Even if the six Scorpenes manage to roll out between 2015 and 2020, as is now expected, India will have a grand total of just eight to nine diesel-electric submarines by 2022.
This when the requirement is for at least 18 conventional submarines, with both China and Pakistan rapidly bolstering their underwater combat capabilities.
It, once again, underlines India's sheer lack of long-term strategic planning to systematically build military capabilities in tune with geo-political objectives, despite big bucks being spent on defence acquisitions in recent years.