Navy chief says the force is on standby to deploy its assets, and units are deployed in the Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, and Red Sea for any assistance; says Navy’s job is to protect national interest
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R. Hari Kumar on Saturday said that the Indian Navy was on standby to deploy its assets for evacuation operations, if the need arose due to the ongoing conflict in West Asia.
“We have our units deployed in the Gulf of Oman, the Gulf of Aden, and also in the Red Sea for any assistance that is required. The country is already providing assistance to Gaza in terms of relief materials,” Admiral Kumar said in response to a query on the role of the Indian Navy in West Asia in the backdrop of the ongoing events in Gaza. He was speaking at the Synergia Conclave 2023 held in Bangalore, where he delivered the keynote address.
Admiral Kumar added that the Indian Navy was on standby in case of any evacuation requirements. “So as far as Gaza is concerned, ships are deployed and we are ready to provide assistance for evacuation, or undertake any task given by the government,” he added.
“As far as India’s national maritime domain is concerned, our job as a Navy is to protect, preserve, promote, and pursue our national interest. Right now, we have adequate resources, we are reasonably well-funded, we got a programme going. We are right now a 130-ship Navy with about 220 aircraft. We have 67 ships and submarines under construction of all sizes,” the Chief of Naval Staff said.
He added that an Acceptance of Necessity (AON) has been given for another 45 ships and submarines, and by about 2035, the Indian Navy would be 165-170-ship force, along with an increased number of aircraft.
The Navy chief said that the “complete takeover by Artificial Intelligence (AI) by 2045 looks a little far-off”, and that the immediate focus would be ‘manned unmanned teaming’.
“We feel that there has to be a man in the loop, so manned unmanned teaming is being taken forward in a big way. We have set up an unmanned squadron in Karwar, and there is a lot of work happening with unmanned air assets, unmanned surface water vessels, unmanned underwater vessels,” the Navy chief said.
Admiral Kumar said the Indian Navy was looking at whether it could have unmanned surveillance aircraft that could operate from aircraft carriers. “We understand that the Royal Navy is also looking at something similar, so we are also interested in it and are working along with them to take this forward,” he said.
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Anil Chauhan, who delivered a special address virtually, said that there was an increasing proclivity to enter conflict to protect perceived national interests. “But most have done so without a clear end state or exit strategy; Afghanistan, Iran, and Ukraine being examples of this. Interstate conflicts occur due to existing but latent disputes; Azerbaijan, Hamas, Russia, and Ukraine are only examples of it. It is important to manage differences and resolve disputes,” General Chauhan said.