India’s first locally made aircraft carrier has been found to be non-operational by American naval engineers, according to a report in Wall Street Journal.
The report states that the engineers who inspected the carrier at the port of Kochi in February, expecting it to be battle-ready, said it wouldn’t be operational for up to a decade. They found it having shortcomings like no small missile system to defend itself, a limited ability to launch sorties and no defined strategy for how to use the ship in combat.
India and US have joined hands to counter China’s expanding sway in the Indian ocean.
“China’s navy will be the biggest in the world soon, and they’re definitely eyeing the Indian Ocean with ports planned in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh,” retired Admiral Arun Prakash, the former commander of India’s navy, is quoted as saying in the report.
The inspection formed part of US plans to share aircraft carrier technology with India. In August, both the countries had signed a military agreement sharing logistics. They also plan a joint participation in naval exercises with Japan. Washington has approved proposals by Lockheed Martin and Boeing Co. to make advanced jet fighters in India.
India and US naval agreement has given way to new dynamics to Asia’s geopolitical terrain, with China having diplomatic issues with the joint exercises.
Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar recently reiterated a commitment to indigenous manufacturing, citing concerns that foreign supply of arms and ammunition could be cut off in a time of war. “I think self-dependence is very important,” he said.
China has been speeding up efforts on expanding its military forces. China is strategically investing in ports circling the Indian Ocean in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Pakistan. It is also building it’s first overseas military outpost in Dijboputi.
India had pledged funding for a new port in Iran last year. It has also added two Indian- built carriers to the Russian one it now operates.
US, however, is showing concerns about India’s military strategy. Experts said there have been severe delays on the part of New Delhi in modernising its carriers, jet fighters and nuclear submarines.
Some serious faults have been found in India’s first homemade carrier, INS Vikrant. Its gearboxes, construction, design and jet launching system has fallen short of expectations. But the US Navy has hopes on India’s second homemade carrier which promises advance technologies.