New Delhi: The Indian Navy is aiming to have a 200-ship fleet by 2027 as per a maritime capability perspective plan in order to guard interests and assets of the nation in waters around them, a top Naval officer said today.
The Navy, which has 137 ships and submarines under its command, has been at the forefront of indigenisation, and is also in "exploratory talks" with Russia to see if some of the ships can be built with their collaboration so as to "expedite" the process.
"There is a maritime capability perspective plan. As per that, there are certain number of ships that we have to build by a particular timeline. Today we have 137 ships and submarines... Our aspiration is to become a 200-ship Navy (by 2027)," Vice Chief of Navy Vice Admiral P Murugesan told reporters here when asked about the force's aims.
On cooperation with Russia, he said the Navy was in talks for 3 Grigorivich-class frigates, an improved version of the six Talwar-class frigates the Navy obtained between 2003-13.
"As of now, it is only in exploratory domain. As and when decided, it will be under make in India," he clarified.
The Vice Chief noted that the road ahead is not easy as on an average for every 2-3 ships inducted, one from the existing lot retires due to age, and underlined that navies have to be maintained and they cannot be created overnight.
"It is a catch up game. It will take time and it will not be very easy. I would like to see 200 ships. Wherever our trade and interest are taking place, we should take care of our needs in those areas," he said adding that India does not need 1,000 ships for that.
Murugesan confirmed that a high-level committee of the Defence Ministry has submitted its report identifying shipyards capable of executing the about-Rs 60,000 crore project of building the next six conventional submarines under Project P75I. A Request for Proposal (RFP) would be issued soon in this regard.
He also mentioned that an RFP would also be issued for the procurement of two deep-sea rescue vessels.
Asked if the Navy will go in for additional Scorpene submarines apart from the six being built currently in Mumbai, he said the answer can only be guesswork at the moment as the Navy will have to look into the entire capacity, capability and other ongoing projects like P75I and the building of six nuclear submarines sanctioned early this year.
The officer said the six nuclear submarines to be built will be finished in lesser time than what other navies normally take.
Asked about the delay in procurement of torpedos and helicopters for the Navy, he said everything was under process.
He refused to comment on India's nuclear submarine Arihant, which is expected to undertake missile test later this year.
The Vice Chief also refrained from disclosing details about the Long Range Surface-to-Air Missile, the next generation Barak missile, saying it would be "proved" soon.
The missile, being built in collaboration with Israel, is set to be test fired from a ship soon.
Asked how the force was preparing against cyber attack, he said an elaborate organisation has been set up within the Navy to tackle the threa