The Indian Navy chief has underscored an alarming shortfall in warships and submarines, adding to the worry caused by earlier reports that the navy’s capital warships — the aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates, corvettes and submarines that constitute its strike power — remain hamstrung by the absence of essential, onboard equipment, such as sonar, torpedoes and multi-role helicopters. True, the navy deserves praise for its year-round presence across the Indian Ocean and its participation in prestigious international exercises such as Malabar. However, these shortfalls mean that the navy would be painfully exposed when it graduates from peacetime exercises to actual combat. The chief of defence staff may have a point when he said the navy cannot afford to buy a third aircraft carrier at this point. However, there is certainly enough money to fill the relatively small operational voids that have, for well over a decade now, rendered horrendously expensive warships unfit for war. There is also concern over the inexplicable shortages of specialist vessels such as minesweepers and anti-submarine corvettes, which are not the most expensive of assets, but are essential to safeguard the fleet. The absence of a Rs 500-crore minesweeper can lead to the sinking of a Rs 5,000-crore frigate by a Rs 500,000 sea mine.
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First Published: Wed, December 09 2020. 00:41 IST