New Delhi: With a view to bolstering coastal security and counter the increasing Chinese interest in the Indian Ocean Region, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Karambir Singh ahead of Navy Day on December 4 said the Navy’s long-term plan is to have three aircraft carriers with the first indigenous aircraft carrier with MiG-29K aircraft becoming fully operational by 2022.
Speaking at the annual press conference, he assured the nation that the Navy is fully prepared to deal with national security challenges.
On the challenges in the neighbourhood, he said no action of any other player in the region should impact us.
“We are ready to work with like-minded nations in the region,” he said.
Seven to eight Chinese ships are usually present in Indian Ocean Region, Admiral Singh noted.
The Navy chief also said India is playing a stabilising role in the Indo-Pacific region.
Asked about 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 pace we are capable of”.
“The Navy’s annual budget allocation has come down from 18 per cent to 12 per cent in the last five years,” he noted.
On the challenges in the neighbourhood, he said “no action of any other player in the region should impact us”. “We are ready to work with like-minded nations in the region,” he said.
The Navy chief said India is playing a stabilising role in the Indo-Pacific region.
He said that a Chinese research vessel was recently driven away from Indian waters near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as it did not have permission to operate there.
“Our stand is that if you have to do anything in our exclusive economic zone (EEZ), you have to notify us and take permission,” Navy Chief said.
According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a country’s EEZ extends to 200 nautical miles from its coast and it has sovereign rights for exploring, exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources in this sea zone.
The Chinese vessel, Shi Yan 1, was found carrying out some activities near Port Blair in September when it was asked to go away.
Admiral Singh said the Navy was keeping track of Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region. “They have been given areas for deep sea mining. Chinese oceanographic research vessels are there in the Indian Ocean Region. At any given time, seven to eight Chinese vessels are there in the region, including the ones involved in anti-piracy role,” he said.
India will be hosting the multi-nation Milan exercise off the east coast next year for which 41 countries have been invited. China, however, has not been invited.
The Navy Chief said India had invited only like-minded countries. “We haven’t even done a passage exercise with the Chinese navy. With the other countries, we have better interoperability,” he explained.
The exercise was earlier staged off Port Blair but has been moved to Vizag as “the east coast has better bandwidth,” he said.
Admiral Singh highlighted that the Navy needed more funds for pursuing its modernisation programme as its share of the defence budget had declined from 18 per cent to 13 per cent during the last five years. He said the Navy had projected the requirement of additional money to the government.