This Friday, India installed a second domestically made aircraft carrier and the largest warship the country has ever built into its naval fleet. This has given a massive push to India towards making the Indian Ocean more militarized.
India considers it a priority to keep the sea lanes of trade guarded and safe in the Indo-Pacific and the Indian Ocean regions. Doing this will enhance trade and benefit the global economy, in turn, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a ceremony in the southern city of Kochi.
Modi introduced the 45,000-ton Indian Naval Ship Vikrant, which was twenty years in the making. The vessel will accommodate 30 aircraft and 1,700 sailors.
New Delhi is also crafting plans to get a third carrier inducted at its naval capabilities.
“Carriers give countries the ability to exert influence by being present at faraway places continuously,” said retired Commodore Srikanth Kesnur, who teaches at India’s Naval College in Goa. “It’s a much-needed shot in the arm when Indo-Pacific is militarizing.”
It is estimated that there will be 125 foreign naval vessels in the Indian Ocean region at any given time. This number is approximately three times the figure deployed in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks when the U.S. launched its attack on Afghanistan.
The waters of India are not accustomed to these many naval vessels together since World War II as both China and the US and its allies deploy more warships in the area.
Reports to the US Congress hint that China is planning a six-carrier navy. One report from the US Department of Defense has warned the “multi-carrier force” of the Chinese navy will have the capability to strike beyond its “immediate periphery.”
The INS Vikrant will fly India’s US-made MH-60R multi-role helicopters that were recently purchased and share MIG-29K naval fighters with the other aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. India has about 40 MIG-29 K fighters.
India’s Navy is in the market for over two dozen deck-based fighters. Both Dassault and Boeing have pitched their fighters.