The Indian Navy is seeking a third aircraft carrier and two new fighter squadrons to counter Chinese threat in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). In recent months, Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region has increased and the Indian Navy believes that a third aircraft carrier will help India contain China.
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As per reports from the Times of India, the Indian Navy remains keen to push for a third aircraft carrier and two new fighter squadrons to counter China’s increasing footprint in the IOR. The delivery of India’s second aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Navy is expected to push for a grant of ‘’acceptance of necessity’’(AoN) for the third carrier, the 65,000-tonne IAC-II (INS Vishal). Experts at EurAsian Times believe that the grant may actually pass this time since the government is fast-tracking pending defence projects amidst soaring tensions with neighbours.
To balance the cost of the third carrier, the Navy has also trimmed the number of fighter jets it requested to 36 (two squadrons) from 57. Since indigenous jets won’t be ready till 2032, the deal for fighter jets might include the like of Rafale’s, Grippen’s and F/A-18s and MiG-29Ks.
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The delay of the INS Vikrant has landed a blow to the Indian Navy. According to experts, the delay puts India in danger of losing its decisive edge over China in the carrier strike group arena (CSG).
Beijing already has two function aircraft carriers and is frantically working on to two more. The Chinese Navy aims to have 10 aircraft carriers by 2050 and expects to deploy a CSG in the IOR within the next 5 years. India has one operational aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya.
Beijing aims to increase in its footprint in the IOR to break New Delhi’s sphere of influence over the region. For decades India has enjoyed cordial relations with countries in the IOR and formed a sphere of influence over the region.
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As reported by EurAsian Times earlier, China aims to dominate the Indian Ocean Region by completing the ‘string of pearls’.The theory refers to the network of Chinese military and commercial facilities developed by China in countries in the IOR stretching from the Chinese mainland to the Middle East.
The Chinese government has vehemently denied that such a strategy exists but its actions say otherwise. Beijing has access to outposts in strategic locations in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Djibouti.