Indian Navy Achieved a Very High Operational Tempo With Greater Emphasis on the Criticality of Maritime Security, Predator Drone Procurement Under Process: CNS Admiral Hari Kumar

Indian Navy, Top Stories

New Delhi: Addressing the media a day ahead of Navy Day celebrations which would be held outside the Capital for the first time at the Eastern Naval Command headquarters in Visakhapatnam, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar expressed that Indian Navy will become ‘Atmanirbhar’ (self-reliant) by 2047.

He said the Navy has given assurances to the government that it will become ‘Atmanirbhar’ (self-reliant) by 2047. “

“The government has given us clear guidelines on Atmanirbhar Bharat. We have given assurances that the Indian Navy will become Atmanirbhar by 2047,” the Navy Chief said.

With increasing threats in land and sea, the Indian Navy procurement of Predator drones from the US is under process, said the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R. Hari Kumar and further added, “We have gained good experiences while operating the leased drones.”

Taking note of the PLA Navy warships of China making regular forays in the Indian Ocean region, the Navy Chief said the Indian Navy has been bolstering its surveillance mechanism to monitor their activities. The procurement proposal for the armed drones has been moved by the Indian Navy and all three services are likely to get 10 drones each.

The drone is the first hunter-killer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for long-endurance and high-altitude surveillance. The MQ-9B has signals intelligence and communications intelligence systems integrated onboard, but it can take any number of other custom sensors as necessary.

The original proposal was to procure 30 MQ-9B Predator armed drones at a cost of over US$ 3 billion to boost India’s surveillance apparatus along the frontier with China as well as in the Indian Ocean region. The MQ-9B drone is a variant of the MQ-9 “Reaper” which was used to launch a modified version of the Hellfire missile that eliminated al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in the heart of Kabul last month. In 2020, the Indian Navy had taken on lease two MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones from General Atomics for a period of one year for surveillance in the Indian Ocean. The lease period has been extended subsequently.

He said the Navy keeps a strong vigil over the movements of various Chinese military and research vessels in the Indian Ocean Region. Elaborating on the forays by Chinese Navy vessels, he said “there are four to six People’s Liberation Army (PLA) navy ships at any time. There are a large number of Chinese fishing vessels along with their research vessels. We keep a close watch on them.”

“This is an important region where a large amount of trade and energy flows through this region. There are around 60 extra-regional vessels. We track these vessels and ensure that they don’t do anything inimical to our interests,” Admiral Hari Kumar said.

Navy Chief R Hari Kumar said the Indian Navy achieved a very high operational tempo in the last one year and there has been greater emphasis on the criticality of maritime security as India marches ahead.

He said the first batch of 3000 Agniveers has been inducted, including 341 are women and from next year women officers will be inducted across all branches and won’t just be limited to seven or eight as is the case currently.

“We’re not inducting women separately. They’re being inducted in the same manner as their male counterparts. It’s a uniform method of selection. They undergo similar tests,” the Navy Chief said.

“They’ll be deployed on ships, airbases, aircraft. They will be trained for everything the way a normal sailor is trained. There is going to be no difference in training. We’re looking at being a gender-neutral force where we only look at capability of the individual,” he added.

Hailing  the commissioning of the indigenously built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant as a “landmark” event, he said it was “a torch-bearer of Atmanirbharta”. The  aircraft carrier was commissioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kochi. “It’s been a landmark event and signifies persistent efforts of generations of naval leadership, designers, planners, shipyard workers, industry, and other supporting agencies and personnel.”

He said that recent events like the Russia-Ukraine War have shown the country that it cannot remain dependent on others for its security requirements and the government has given very clear guidelines towards Atmanirbhar Bharat.

“The CDS General  Anil Chauhan has laid stress on increasing integration, and we have been working on developing theatre commands and integration,” the Navy Chief said.

Earlier, he and Vice-chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral SN Ghormade, along with badminton star and  two-time Olympic medallist P.V. Sindhu received the Navy marathoners who completed a  1,500-km run ahead of the Navy Day celebrations on December 4.

Speaking at the event, he said, “the aim of the run was to  spread the message of physical fitness and what the Navy is all about. Events like this test our endurance,  encourage physical fitness and develop stamina.”

“A physically fit person will naturally be able to protect  the country,” he added.

The Navy chief said, “PV Sindhu represents ‘Nari Shakti’ for the Navy and all elements of physical fitness important  for the armed forces”, adding, “we look at her as a brand  ambassador for us who can encourage our personnel to do better.”