The Termendies speed at which China has been moving to build up its
navy is causing concern in the Japan, the United States—and in India.
Recent decisions by China’s People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) have
left China-watchers wondering where the Chinese juggernaut will stop.
The latest decision to garner attention has been the apparent decision
by the Central Military Commission—China’s highest military planning
body—to give the green light to the building of two new nuclear-powered
One aircraft carrier—the Kuznetsov class Varyag—is already being
refitted after being taken off Russian hands. All three aircraft
carriers will be available to China by 2017 and will be responsible for
patrolling the South China Sea, Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, thus
signaling to the world that China has indeed truly become a superpower.
So what is India doing to counter the growing Chinese naval might? The
Chinese naval buildup is a matter of deep concern for Indian security
managers. However, New Delhi is busy developing an effective counter.
Two aircraft carriers—the INS Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkov of Russia)
and INS Vikrant—are under construction. In addition, the Indian
government in March 2009 approved Project 15B under which
next-generation warships are in various stages of construction.
Meanwhile, at least three Kolkata class destroyers are under
construction under Project 15A.
But there’s more. The Indian Navy has also launched several new
projects to develop a beefed up fleet of stealth frigates. The lead
vessels will be the Shivalik class of frigates—India’s first such
stealth vessels. The Sahyadri and Satpura are also in advanced stages
of construction, meaning the Indian government is well on its way to
achieving its goal of maintaining a force of more than 140 warships.
Meanwhile, construction work on at least four nuclear submarines is in
full swing, while the indigenous Arihant nuclear-powered submarine has
already been launched (India plans to have at least 30 submarines by
2030 (although this target may be tough to achieve with the submarine
fleet expected to shrink to 16 by 2012 with the decommissioning of two
Clearly, China has set off a naval race in the region. Japan and the
United States, which are set to lag far behind in the Asia-Pacific,
need to stand by India if the international community’s unfettered
access to the South China Sea, Western Pacific and Indian Ocean is to