Frantic Race for Aircraft Carriers – Advantage India

September 23, 2019

Welcome to WARN,
Frantic Race for Aircraft Carriers � Advantage India
Ever since China unveiled its first indigenous aircraft carrier, a whirlwind of debates engulfed
the Indian strategic circles. Some lamented the loss of strategic edge enjoyed
by India so long. Some suggested India building more nuclear
submarines instead of the white elephants called aircraft carriers. Some pointed out the vulnerability of the
aircraft carriers and the possibility of billions of rupees sinking into the sea along with
the sinking of the carriers. But all these inferences are fallacious and
can easily be discounted. Before jumping to any conclusion, one should
take into consideration the changing and volatile strategic landscape of the globe which includes
the rise of China as a superpower along with the rise of PLA Navy, the ever-increasing
number of Chinese bases in Asia, Africa & Latin America, the crystallizing anti-China Quad
consisting of the US, Japan, Australia & India, and the soon to be operationalised LEMOA between
the US & India. Regarding the temporary loss of strategic
edge by India, India�s reported overdrive to test & build carrier-killing missiles using
the Brahmos, Shaurya & K-15 platforms can be cited. This will effectively deter the Chinese carrier
battle group. Aircraft carriers are undoubtedly a visible
symbol of a nation�s strength, an instrument of power projection & sea control and a vehicle
of immense firepower. Aircraft carrier is a huge psychological weapon
which induces fear in the minds of the adversaries. Though nuclear submarines are potent deterrent,
they should and cannot be compared to the carriers. In fact, they are not mutually exclusive,
rather they are complementary. Regarding vulnerability, it can be affirmed
that aircraft-carrier is supported by a carrier battle group which include submarines & minesweepers. Besides the carrier itself has air defence
system to protect itself. India will get Israeli system for its first
indigenous aircraft carrier. Again Japan, the leading submarine hunter,
is training India in the field of anti-sub warfare. Besides the Malabar Exercise will include
anti- sub warfare. So it will not be easy to sink Indian air
craft carriers. Besides destroying carriers will entail a
huge retaliation. Considering the rise of China and its repeated
incursion into the Indian Ocean, India has already factored the possibility of a sea
war with China & no platform can be more potent than aircraft carrier. Besides, China still lacks the sophistication
in its aircraft carriers technology as well as in its carrier-based fighters. India has already secured approval from the
US for the much coveted EMALS & AAG technology which the French, Japanese & Brazilian navy
has sought. The EMALS technology will allow India to launch
unmanned aircraft from carriers too. Thus the carriers will be a potent platform
for hybrid warfare. Besides, India has the chance to select the
US built F35C 5th generation stealth fighter, also called the flying computer, as its carrier-borne
fighters. Again as reported, if India goes for nuclear
propulsion for its IAC II Vishal, the nuclear reactor design and building will prove to
be valuable experience for India in building N-reactor for its nuclear submarines. The apparent revival of the democratic quad
consisting of the US, Japan, India & Australia and the soon to be operationalised LEMOA between
the US & India, and later a LEMOA clone between India & Australia ——- will necessitate
the existence of Indian aircraft carriers on the Indo-Pacific waters. This will ensure inter-operability among the
four. Again in case of an Indo-China war scenario,
aircraft carriers will be used to block oceanic trade routes used by China. In case of huge natural catastrophes like
Tsunami, flood or cyclone, aircraft carriers can be the most useful tool for humanitarian
assistance. So the aircraft carriers are not white elephants. Rather they are futuristic vehicle which will
witness futuristic & innovative uses. It is for this reason that Russia, France,
Britain, Italy and the US are rushing after the carriers.

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