Indian Navy Slashes Procurement as Protests and a Weakening Economy Spell a Rocky Road Ahead

DESPARDES Report — Indian Navy(IN) is scaling back its modernization programs, as financials and economic slump bite the national budget.

The report comes as foreign investors show concern on growing legal entanglements due to near-collapse of more than a dozen banks and a layoff frenzy grips India Inc — it may worsen in 2020.

A Pakistani defense official says the cutbacks will hit hard as IN is already facing short fall in Aircraft Carriers, Mine Counter Measure Vessels (MCMVs), Landing Platform Docks (LPDs) and Fleet Support Ships (FSSs). The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he’s not authorized to comment officialy.

According to a latest report, IN has scaled back its expansion program from 200 warships Navy by 2027 to 175 Ships. The cutback comes as India espouses to become part of the Quad for Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy. Quad’s adhoc group includes India, US, Japan and Australia. At the same time India has been making waves to counter growing Pak-China influence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) — Delhi considers IOR its frontyard.

The cutback comes amid reports its effort to localize defense peocuremenr via ‘Make In India’ faces handicaps. Last year in October, Christophe Jaffrelot, a Senior Research Fellow at the CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS opined that while a new arms race is underway in the region, India suffers from a clear disadvantage: it still has not created a proper arms industry, hence its dependence on foreign suppliers.

Pakistan — one of its rivals Delhi considers beside China– on the other hand, is said to be incrementally ahead — even though its dependency on foreign iron remains, an independent expert says.

What India is pulling back on procurement of combat systems include:

  1. IN budgetary allocation was Rs 412.59 billions against a demand of Rs 643.07 crore, not adequate to pay for acquisitions already signed.
  2. Mine Counter Measure Vessels (MCMVs) procurement has been cut from 12 to 8.
  3. Acquisition of Kamov KA 31 early warning helicopters has been reduced from 10 to 6.
  4. Number of additional P8 I LRMPs has been reduced from 10 to 6.
  5. Cadet Training Ship program has been shelved.
  6. Acquisition of 4 Landing Platform Docks (LPDs) has been terminated.

PM Modi’s decision to finalize a $5 billion weapons deal with Russia to purchase the high-tech S-400 missile defense system is also said to be in the crosshairs.

According to an analyst, the deal could potentially expose Delhi to American sanctions, according to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) legislation signed by President Donald Trump in August 2017.

The Diplomat recently published “Can India walk the talk on the Indo-Pacific?” and analyzed whether India is ready to be the net security provider in the Indian ocean.

Given the developments, “I doubt”, says an analyst.

CNN analyst says protests and a weakening economy spell a rocky road ahead for Narendra Modi.

And a former Pakistani ambassador who has authored several books including one on India and Pakistan says, “With each passing day, India gets closer to economic collapse, and India’s friends in the Western media are (now) compelled to take notice — belatedly” (though). “Too little, too late!”