Issue: 3-2021 By Jayant Baranwal, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief

The lead article in this issue focuses on India’s role in the Indo-Pacific region. Commodore Praksah (Retd) analyses the voids and suggests ways to go forward. While China has aimed to secure access to strategic ports to gain an economic and strategic advantage, India’s role in the region is increasingly seen as a protector of the international order in the region, particularly as it pertains to maintaining open sea lanes and freedom of navigation. He adds that India does not possess an overarching National Security Strategy that comprehensively assesses the challenges to the country’s security and spells out policies to deal effectively with them.

The modernisation and expanding global foot print of the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is well known. Even US agrees that the PLAN is the largest Navy in the world in numbers. Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha (Retd) traces the expansion and states that China has increased its investment in ports and berths worldwide, totalling to 42 ports in 34 countries beginning with Indian Ocean Region (IOR), which China considers as an opening to the West. The author feels that it is matter of time that Chinese vessels in the Atlantic could siphon some US naval forces from Western Pacific easing pressure on China in East Sea, South China Sea and Taiwan straits, distract the US and stretch them for benefit of China.

In an article on China’s Naval Capabilities and implications for the Indo-Pacific, the author Saloni Salil, believes that the Indo-Pacific region is becoming a hot bed for future battles. The region is now significantly militarised with the South China Sea countries also acquiring small but powerful naval fleet, making the region’s strategic geometrics extremely volatile.

There is another article on PLAN’s growing foot print in the region with special reference to India. The author states that the aim is to encircle India with a string of maritime bases (called string of pearls) from where China’s Defence Forces can operate when required. He stresses that the greater danger lies for India if Pakistan cannot service its debt and accords 99 years lease to China of Gwadar Port Complex which will give China free access to the Indian Ocean and also anchorage for PLAN at Gwadar Port complex for an indefinite time.

The best news for the Navy is that that the RFP for P-75(I) project has been issued. It is the first acquisition programme under the Strategic Partnership Model for construction of six AIP fitted Conventional Submarines at a cost of over 40,000 crore (about $5.3 billion). Read more about it in in this issue.

The issue just about wraps up with the usual News Digest and flag postings. We wish you all happy reading and a very happy Independence Day!