In the backdrop of China's aggressive naval expansion, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh on Monday pitched for higher budgetary allocation for his force, flagging concerns over decline in the Navy's share in defence allocation from 18 per cent in 2012-13 to 13 per cent in 2018-19.
In a reference to Indian Navy driving out a Chinese PLA ship from India's Exclusive Economic Zone in September, the Navy Chief asserted that such activities will be dealt with sternly.
The Navy's long-term capability plan is to have three aircraft carriers so that two carrier battle groups are ready for deployment in the Indian Ocean Region round-the-clock.
In a press conference on the eve of the Navy Day, the Navy Chief said the first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) will be fully operational by 2022 and it will have a fleet of MiG-29K aircraft.
According to plans, he said the second IAC will be 65,000 ton CATOBAR aircraft carrier with electric propulsion and that Navy will shortly approach the government seeking approval for the project.
At present, the Navy is operating Russian-origin INS Vikramaditya which is India's only aircraft carrier.
On China's increasing forays into the Indian Ocean Region, Admiral Singh said seven to eight Chinese ships are usually present in region at any point of time.
Asked why China has not been invited to the Milan maritime exercises along with 41 other countries, he said only like-minded nations will be part of it.
Admiral Singh also assured the nation that the Navy is fully prepared to deal with national security challenges.
On the proposed Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), he said the position should be adequately empowered to implement strategic plans.
Referring to the Navy's modernisation plan, Admiral Singh said it was a fact that the budget for the force has declined from 18 per cent in 2012-13 to 13 per cent in 2018-19. "Our hope is that we get some more funds."
It is learnt that the Navy has already communicated to the Prime Minister's Office the need for adequate funds for modernisation of the force.
On the challenges in the neighbourhood, he said no action of any other player in the region should impact India, and if it does then, the force will deal with it appropriately.
Asked about the situation in the Indo-Pacific region, the Navy Chief said Indian Navy was ready to work with like-minded nations based on common interests of ensuring safe and secure seas and promote rules-based order.
He also said that the quadrilateral coalition of India, the US, Japan and Australia does not have a military role in the Indo-Pacific region at the moment.
The Navy Chief also said India is playing a stabilising role in the Indo-Pacific region.
To a query on the massive expansion of the Chinese Navy, he said they are moving at the pace they are capable of and "we are moving at the place we are capable of".
On whether the Navy has any plan to conduct an exercise with China, Admiral Singh suggested that he was not the person to take such a decision. "It is beyond my pay grade," he quipped.