The Indian Navy is planning to lease certain assets in the medium term to mitigate the gap in critical operational capabilities.
“We may also look at operational enablers like utility helicopters and unmanned solutions for operational preparedness of the Navy,” Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar, Vice Chief of Naval Staff, has said.
Though India has the largest coastline of 7,516 km among any other maritime state with its blue water navy ambitions, its underwater capability is nowhere close to its needs. Ideally, the Indian Navy needs at least 24 submarines to meet its 30-year submarine-building plan, which was approved by the cabinet committee on security in 1999, months after the Kargil conflict.
The plan was to induct 12 diesel submarines by 2012 and another 12 submarines by 2030, but repeated delays forced the Navy to rejig the plan.
“For Indian Navy, we will look towards leasing operational support assets and auxiliaries to enhance our operational capabilities and avoid huge investments in manning and maintaining them…Introducing leasing model in the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP 2020) is a path breaking procedural change. It provides the option to reduce short-term capability gaps considering the long gestation period of ship building contracts,” Vice Admiral Kumar said.
The future requirements also include capabilities such as space-based surveillance, robust communication networks integrated with AI, modern aircrafts, etc. “Capability building is a long term and evolving process that includes industrial capability, management of technology and budget for modernisation,” he said.
“We are also continuously working to identify and mitigate the capability gaps through innovative methods and one such option can be leasing of assets,” added Vice Admiral Kumar. “To meet the emerging challenges and responsibilities, there is a wide range of operational capabilities envisaged.”
Elaborating on the merits of the leasing model, Vice Admiral Kumar said that it enables further focus on core competence, removes technological complexities, lowers manpower cost for maintenance thereby reducing the overall cost for acquiring an asset.
Highlighting the opportunity in leasing, he urged the industry to have and maintain a long-term outlook in this sector. “If the requirements of the three services can be met through leasing provisions, it would be a win-win situation for the Indian industry and the armed forces.”
The on-going modernization process, he said, aims to create capabilities to accomplish a range of missions. A wide variety of such capabilities can now be covered through the provision of leasing and Indian industry can play an important role in meeting these requirements, he added.
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