Rajnath Singh launches two warships in Atmanirbhar Bharat push

He said that if a country wants to safeguard its national interests, it should project its military prowess in areas far beyond the mainland
Minister of defence Rajnath Singh at the launch of the warships. (PTI)
Minister of defence Rajnath Singh at the launch of the warships. (PTI)
Updated on May 17, 2022 04:44 PM IST
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NEW DELHI: Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday launched two indigenous warships at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) in Mumbai.

The launch comes at a time when self-reliance in defence is a top priority for the government, and when the power dynamics in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) are changing with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) making concerted efforts to increase its footprint.

In his address at the launch, Singh said that if a country wants to safeguard its national interests, it should project its military prowess in areas far beyond the mainland.

“If a country has aspirations to become a regional or global power, it is necessary to develop a strong naval force. The government is making all efforts in this direction. We want to make a strong, secure and prosperous India, which is recognised as a global power,” he said.

The two warships — guided-missile destroyer Surat and stealth frigate Udaygiri — are expected to be commissioned into the Indian Navy by the end of 2024, officials familiar with the navy’s modernisation said.

A warship’s launch marks a significant milestone in its construction and refers to the vessel entering the water for the first time. Surat is the fourth destroyer of the P15B class of warships, while Udaygiri is the second frigate of the P17A class. The warships have been designed by the Directorate of Naval Design (DND) and built at MDL.

Singh described the warships as an embodiment of the government’s commitment to enhance the country’s maritime capability, with a focus on achieving ‘Aatmanirbharta’ (self-reliance) at a time when the world is witnessing disruption in global supply chains due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and Covid-19.

“Udaygiri and Surat are shining examples of India’s growing indigenous capability. The warships will be among the most technologically advanced missile carriers in the world and will cater to present as well as future requirements. In the times to come, we will not only fulfil our own needs but will also meet the ship-building requirement of the world.”

He said the two warships will add might to the navy’s arsenal, and demonstrate India’s strategic strength as well as the power of self-reliance to the world.

Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar (retd) said the launch of the two platforms cemented India’s status in an elite group of nations with the capability to build such large and sophisticated warships.

The two warships were launched a month after the launch of Vagsheer, the navy’s sixth and last Kalvari-class submarine being built in India with French help. The Kalvari-class diesel-electric attack submarines were built in the country with technology transfer from French firm Naval Group under a 23,562-crore programme called Project 75, and four of them have already been commissioned into the navy.

At Tuesday’s launch, Singh said the navy would play an even more important role in times to come because of the evolving security scenario in the Indian Ocean and the Indo-Pacific region. He lauded the navy for being at the forefront of self-reliance in the defence sector. He said more than two-thirds of the navy’s modernisation budget was spent on indigenous procurement during the last five years.

“To support the ‘Make in India’ initiative, 80% of AoNs [acceptance of necessity] on a cost basis have been awarded to Indian vendors, amounting to an investment of nearly 1.75 lakh crore back into the Indian economy,” Kumar said.

Under India’s defence procurement rules, AoN by the defence acquisition council is the first step towards buying military hardware.

Singh said the indigenous aircraft carrier ‘Vikrant’, which is scheduled to be inducted into the Indian Navy this year, was a major milestone on the path to ‘Aatmanirbharta’. He hoped the carrier would increase India’s reach from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean. Built at the state-owned Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), Vikrant has put India in a select league — only the US, the UK, Russia, France and China have the capability to build aircraft carriers.

Maritime affairs expert Rear Admiral Shekhar Mital (retd) said the launch of the two warships illustrated the strides India has taken in indigenous shipbuilding. “It has been possible because of the navy’s vision backed by the defence ministry and the industry. The navy has enhanced its capability significantly with indigenous platforms.’’

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Sunday, July 03, 2022