New Delhi launches first home-built aircraft carrier; bolsters defenses along the China border.
India is fortifying its borders and bolstering its naval defenses amid the growing Chinese military threats. On Friday, New Delhi commissioned the nation’s first home-built aircraft carrier as it seeks to counter China’s growing naval buildup in the Indo-Pacific.
The aircraft carrier “262m (860ft) long and almost 60m (197ft) tall – is the first aircraft carrier India has designed and built on its own. It has the capacity to hold 30 fighter planes and helicopters,” the BBC reported. “India’s other aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, can carry more than 30 aircraft.”
The launching of a domestically produced aircraft carrier — which takes the number of India’s aircraft carriers up to two — also highlights that New Delhi is moving away from Russia, the country’s largest military supplier. According to some estimates, about 70% to 85% of India’s military systems are of Russian origin.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu Nationalist “government has put emphasis on building a domestic defense hardware industry to reduce the country’s huge dependence on foreign weaponry – India is among the world’s largest arms importers,” the U.S. weekly Defense News noted.
Despite these advances, India faces the world’s most formidable navy in the Indo-Pacific region. China has three aircraft carriers in service; the fourth is in the pipeline.
Beijing is ramping up its naval capabilities at a rapid pace. China’s “People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has surpassed the United States Navy in total battle force ships, approximately 360 to 297, with future projections expecting the gap to grow,” foreign policy journal The Diplomat noted in April 2021. “By 2025, the PLAN is predicted to field as many as 400 vessels whereas the United States plans only to field 355,” the periodical added.
India Bolsters Border Defenses
After deadly clashes with the Chinese military two years ago, India is bolstering infrastructure leading up the borders. In July 2020, New Delhi accused the PLA of attacking Indian border posts, killing at least 20 soldiers, and occupying a strategic valley in the country’s northern Kashmir region.
China refuses to recognize the 2100-mile border it shares with India and has made territorial claims on the Indian side of the border. The Chinese military also occupies around 15,000 square miles of Indian territory following the war of 1962 waged under Mao Zedong’s reign.
On August 27, the Indian broadcaster NDTV reported New Delhi’s beefing up of border defense:
An Indian Army official on Saturday said that massive infrastructure development is being done along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in order to make surveillance more efficient as the close watch of hideouts become difficult due to the mountainous terrain and forest area.
Besides ensuring security, peace and tranquillity, the Indian Army is also engaged in infrastructure development. The Army patrols day and night on the remotest route along the border with China which does not even have proper road connectivity making the task even more difficult.
In view of the face-off between Indian and Chinese forces in April-May 2020 along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh, the Army is working to further strengthen its borders.
[Indian Army spokesman Major Thakre] said massive infrastructure development is being done in order to make surveillance more efficient. He said the mountainous terrain and forest, surveillance and close watch of hideouts become difficult.
India, U.S. Troops to Hold Himalayan Combat Training
Amid simmering military conflict with China, India seeks closer defense cooperation with the United States.
Under President Donald Trump’s watch, New Delhi joined the U.S.-led Asia-Pacific alliance revived by Washington as a counterweight to Chinese militarism. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue initiative, also known as the “Quad,” is a four-nation geostrategic alliance comprised of the U.S., Australia, Japan, and India. The coalition has created a framework for security cooperation, including joint defense exercises and access to each other’s military bases.
Next month, Indian and U.S. troops are set to conduct joint mountain combat training in the Himalayan mountain ranges. “The military drill will take place from October 18 to 31 at an altitude of 10,000 feet in Uttarakhand’s Auli [northern India] and will focus on high-altitude combat training,” Indian newspaper The Hindu reported earlier this month, citing U.S. defense sources.
China, which is currently holding joint military exercises with Russia in the Russian Far East, has been angered by the prospect of a U.S.-India drill on the Indian side of the border. “We firmly oppose any third party to meddle in the China-India border issue in any form,” a PLA spokesperson complained.DONATE
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