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Navy's plan to become 170-ship force on track: Vice Chief of Naval Staff

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Indian Navy's plan to become a 170-ship force is on track but some changes in the timelines for it are being made in view of certain delays, Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral Satish Namdeo Ghormade said on Tuesday.

The naval commander said guided-missile destroyer 'Visakhapatnam' and Kalvari-class submarine 'Vela' will be inducted into the Indian Navy by next week in a boost to its combat capability in the face of China's growing forays into the Indian Ocean region.

Announcing the new inductions, he also said that 39 naval ships and submarines are currently being constructed in various Indian shipyards which will significantly boost India's maritime prowess.

The Navy had set a target to become a 170-ship force by 2027 but it is set to miss the deadline. At present, the Navy has around 130 ships.

The Vice Chief of the Naval Staff said that the maritime environment around Indian around is a complex one and the region of most rapid change is undoubtedly the Indian Ocean.

"We all know that the maritime environment is a complex one and it only increases with more number of players involved," he said.

"We live in a time when global and regional balances of power are shifting rapidly and the region of most rapid change is undoubtedly the Indian Ocean Region," the commander said.

Vice Admiral Ghormade said continuous efforts are, therefore, on to ensure that the force levels grow progressively to enhance the capability of the Indian Navy to meet the emerging challenges.

On the status of the Navy's plan on becoming a 170-ship force, he said certain changes are being made in the timeline.

"We are also looking at integrated capability development system which has been introduced and work is progressing well on the tri-service effort to make an integrated system," he said.

"The maritime capability perspective plan has been included into it which will ensure that our process continues. 170 ship Navy will happen as per our prioritisation," he added.

On new inductions, the Vice Chief said destroyer 'Visakhapatnam' will be commissioned on November 21 while Vela will be inducted into the force on November 25.

'Visakhapatnam' is equipped with an array of weapons and sensors, including supersonic surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, medium and short-range guns, anti-submarine rockets and advanced electronic warfare and communication suits, said another official.

The ship has the capability of embarking two integrated helicopters and boasts of a very high level of automation with sophisticated digital networks, combat management systems and integrated platform management systems.

It is the first stealth guided-missile destroyer of the Rs 35,000 crore Project 15B under which a total of four warships are being built. The next ship is set to be commissioned in 2023 while the other two are planned to be inducted by 2025.

While the warship 'Visakhapatnam' will be commissioned by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, the chief guest at the induction ceremony of Vela will be Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh.

Both the platforms have been built at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited.

"The commissioning of Visakhapatnam will reaffirm India's presence amongst an elite group of nations with capability to design and build advanced warships," the Vice Admiral said.

The ship measures 163 metres in length and 17 metres in breadth with a displacement of 7,400 tonnes and can be regarded as one of the most potent warships to have been constructed in India.

Vela is the fourth submarine to be built under Project-75. The remaining two submarines under the project are scheduled to ve commissioned by end of 2023.

Vice Admiral Ghormade said 'Sandhyak', the first of the four survey vessels (Large) is being built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata for the Indian Navy.

Asked whether the lifting of the ban on Italian defence firm Leonardo SpA, earlier known as Finmeccanica, will allow it to take part in the Navy's procurement of heavyweight torpedoes for Scorpene submarines, another official said it would not be possible as Request for Proposal (RFP) for the acquisition has already been issued.

The defence ministry has lifted the ban on AgustaWestland and its parent company Leonardo SpA which were banned in 2014 following allegations of corruption in the VVIP helicopter deal.

Asked about China's delivery of a large ship to Pakistan recently, Vice Admiral Ghormade said Indian Navy's maritime capability perspective plan takes into account various possible threats.

"We are building capability over a period that will meet our requirement across the spectrum of warfare from the low intensity to nuclear warfare," he said.

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