defence mechanisms

India is lagging far behind China in submarine race

India is rushing to counter China by building conventional and nuclear submarines with German, French and Russian help. But China’s lead is large and growing.

recent visit by an advanced Chinese Yuan-class submarine to Karachi, Pakistan, after traversing the Arabian Sea, worried Indian authorities concerned about China’s growing undersea-warfare capabilities – more than four times as large as India’s.

The submarine, with 65 crew, spent a week in Pakistan, refuelling and restocking, before sailing back to China. Yuan-class submarines are diesel-electric, but unlike Indian conventional submarines, which must surface to “breathe” and charge batteries, they are capable of staying submerged for weeks.

India now plans to lease a second nuclear attack submarine from Russia and the government has just approved a Rs 90,000-crore ($14 billion) plan to build six nuclear attack submarines in Vishakapatnam. But as Admiral P Murugesan, vice chief of naval staff, told The Economic Times last week: “We have started work, but we are still at the pen-to-paper stage.”

India is rushing to counter China by building conventional and nuclear submarines with German, French and Russian help. But China’s lead is large, growing and it plans to export its undersea expertise.

Particularly disconcerting for India are reports that China plans to sell eight Yuan-class submarines to Pakistan, at a time when Indian submarine forces are, according to this report, in “a state of crisis” and the country jittery about Chinese submarine power.

A conventional Chinese submarine berthed at Colombo’s port twice during 2014, sparking concern in India, leading to a Sri Lankan assurance it would not do anything against Indian interests.

Chinese Navy clearly ahead of India

India has 14 submarines – including one nuclear attack submarine, INS Chakra, leased from Russia in 2012 for 10 years – against China’s 68 and Pakistan’s five.

Most of India’s conventional submarines are more than 20 years old and are reaching the end of their service life, according to this report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence (2014-15), which said it was “dismayed” at the “snail-pace” of commissioning naval vessels.

The Indian Navy has commissioned two submarines and decommissioned five submarines over the last 15 years, Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar said in a reply to the Rajya Sabha.

China launched or commissioned more than 60 naval ships and crafts in 2014. A similar number is expected through the end of 2015.

The Indian Navy has 141 vessels, including 127 surface ships and 14 submarines. The Chinese Navy has more than 300 surface combatants, submarines, amphibious ships and missile-armed patrol craft.


Sources(1) for India, (2) for China, (3) for Pakistan


Under the sea too, Chinese superiority

The Chinese submarine force currently includes 59 conventional or diesel-electric attack submarines and nine nuclear submarines. Of the nine nuclear submarines, five are nuclear attack submarines and four are ballistic-missile submarines.

Nuclear-powered submarines are of two types: attack submarines and fleet ballistic missile submarines.

Attack submarines are smaller and faster compared to their ballistic-missile counterparts. SSNs are designed to attack enemy ships and submarines using torpedoes and shore facilities with cruise missiles with conventional high-explosive warheads. SSBNs carry ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads.


SourceIndian Navy


India’s first nuclear submarine was leased in 1988 from the Russian Navy and returned in 1991. The present nuclear submarine, INS Chakra, is considered one of the deadliest non-American attack boats in the world.

India has 9 Sindhughosh-class or Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines. They were built under a contract between Russia’s Rosvooruzhenie and the Indian Ministry of Defence. The other four are German-made Shishumar-class diesel-electric submarines (Type 1500).

India strives to expand submarine fleet

India plans to add 15 submarines: six conventional French-designed submarines, build six nuclear attack submarines (as we said earlier) and three nuclear ballistic-missile submarines.

The plan to build six French-designed Scorpene-class submarines is called Project 75. The first diesel-electric submarine of this class – INS Kalvari – was launched on April 6 2015 and is expected to be inducted into the Navy by 2016. The other five will be delivered to the Navy by 2020.

The Scorpene is a state-of-the-art conventional submarine, which incorporates advanced stealth characteristics that make detection difficult. The submarine features anti-ship missiles and advanced torpedoes.

Two submarines are to be built at the collaborator’s yard abroad (DCNS, France) and four within the country (three at Mazgaon Dock, Mumbai and one at Hindustan Shipyard, Vishakapatnam).

India’s first indigenously built nuclear-propelled strategic submarine, INS Arihant (Destroyer of the enemy), was launched in 2009 and is currently under trial. The SSBN gives India a nuclear triad of missiles that can be launched by air, from land and under the sea.

Another indigenous SSBN, INS Aridhaman, is also under construction, and work on a third will start soon, according to this report.

China already has three Jin-class SSBNs in service, according to this report, and may have eight in service by 2020.

A cheaper, quicker option: grow anti-submarine capabilities

To counter China’s growing submarine clout, the defence ministry on July 14, 2015, cleared a proposal to purchase four US-built P-8I long-range, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) maritime patrol aircraft.

India already has five such aircraft, according to this report.

In May 2015, INS Kavaratti, a fourth indigenously-built ASW corvette, was launched. It has state-of-art weapons and sensors, including a medium-range gun, torpedo tube, rocket launchers and a helicopter.

India is in the process of finalising a contract with the US’ Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation for 16 S-70B ASW choppers. The deal has been pending for the last 15 years.

Most Indian ships lack ASW helicopters at a time of China’s growing under-sea dominance.

This article was originally published on IndiaSpend, a data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit.

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Some of the worst decisions made in history

From the boardroom to the battlefield, bad decisions have been a recipe for disaster

On New Year’s Day, 1962, Dick Rowe, the official talent scout for Decca Records, went to office, little realising that this was to become one of the most notorious days in music history. He and producer Mike Smith had to audition bands and decide if any were good enough to be signed on to the record label. At 11:00 am, either Rowe or Smith, history is not sure who, listened a group of 4 boys who had driven for over 10 hours through a snowstorm from Liverpool, play 15 songs. After a long day spent listening to other bands, the Rowe-Smith duo signed on a local group that would be more cost effective. The band they rejected went on to become one of the greatest acts in musical history – The Beatles. However, in 1962, they were allegedly dismissed with the statement “Guitar groups are on the way out”.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Decca’s decision is a classic example of deciding based on biases and poor information. History is full of examples of poor decisions that have had far reaching and often disastrous consequences.

In the world of business, where decisions are usually made after much analysis, bad decisions have wiped out successful giants. Take the example of Kodak – a company that made a devastating wrong decision despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Everyone knows that Kodak couldn’t survive as digital photography replaced film. What is so ironic that Alanis Morissette could have sung about it, is that the digital camera was first invented by an engineer at Kodak as early as 1975. In 1981, an extensive study commissioned by Kodak showed that digital was likely to replace Kodak’s film camera business in about 10 years. Astonishingly, Kodak did not use this time to capitalise on their invention of digital cameras – rather they focused on making their film cameras even better. In 1996, they released a combined camera – the Advantix, which let users preview their shots digitally to decide which ones to print. Quite understandably, no one wanted to spend on printing when they could view, store and share photos digitally. The Advantix failed, but the company’s unwillingness to shift focus to digital technology continued. Kodak went from a 90% market share in US camera sales in 1976 to less than 10% in 2012, when it filed for bankruptcy. It sold off many of its biggest businesses and patents and is now a shell of its former self.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Few military blunders are as monumental as Napoleon’s decision to invade Russia. The military genius had conquered most of modern day Europe. However, Britain remained out of his grasp and so, he imposed a trade blockade against the island nation. But the Russia’s Czar Alexander I refused to comply due to its effect on Russian trade. To teach the Russians a lesson, Napolean assembled his Grand Armée – one of the largest forces to ever march on war. Estimates put it between 450,000 to 680,000 soldiers. Napoleon had been so successful because his army could live off the land i.e. forage and scavenge extensively to survive. This was successful in agriculture-rich and densely populated central Europe. The vast, barren lands of Russia were a different story altogether. The Russian army kept retreating further and further inland burning crops, cities and other resources in their wake to keep these from falling into French hands. A game of cat and mouse ensued with the French losing soldiers to disease, starvation and exhaustion. The first standoff between armies was the bloody Battle of Borodino which resulted in almost 70,000 casualties. Seven days later Napoleon marched into a Moscow that was a mere shell, burned and stripped of any supplies. No Russian delegation came to formally surrender. Faced with no provisions, diminished troops and a Russian force that refused to play by the rules, Napolean began the long retreat, back to France. His miseries hadn’t ended - his troops were attacked by fresh Russian forces and had to deal with the onset of an early winter. According to some, only 22,000 French troops made it back to France after the disastrous campaign.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to sports, few long time Indian cricket fans can remember the AustralAsia Cup final of 1986 without wincing. The stakes were extremely high – Pakistan had never won a major cricket tournament, the atmosphere at the Sharjah stadium was electric, the India-Pakistan rivalry at its height. Pakistan had one wicket in hand, with four runs required off one ball. And then the unthinkable happened – Chetan Sharma decided to bowl a Yorker. This is an extremely difficult ball to bowl, many of the best bowlers shy away from it especially in high pressure situations. A badly timed Yorker can morph into a full toss ball that can be easily played by the batsman. For Sharma who was then just 18 years old, this was an ambitious plan that went wrong. The ball emerged as a low full toss which Miandad smashed for a six, taking Pakistan to victory. Almost 30 years later, this ball is still the first thing Chetan Sharma is asked about when anyone meets him.

So, what leads to bad decisions? While these examples show the role of personal biases, inertia, imperfect information and overconfidence, bad advice can also lead to bad decisions. One of the worst things you can do when making an important decision is to make it on instinct or merely on someone’s suggestion, without arming yourself with the right information. That’s why Aegon Life puts the power in your hands, so you have all you need when choosing something as important as life insurance. The Aegon Life portal has enough information to help someone unfamiliar with insurance become an expert. So empower yourself with information today and avoid decisions based on bad advice. For more information on the iDecide campaign, see here.

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