Indian launches reflect its sea ambitions, says Chinese daily

Beijing, Aug 12 (IANS) India's successive launching of its first nuclear submarine and aircraft carrier along with other launches in recent years is being viewed by Chinese experts as a development reflecting New Delhi's upgraded naval capability and its ambition to dominate the India Ocean.

INS Vikrant, which is India's first indigenous aircraft carrier and weighs 37,500-tonne, was launched in Kerala's Kochi city Monday.

New Delhi has to strike a balance between dominating the Indian Ocean and domestic economic and social development; otherwise its maritime ambition may only remain an impractical dream, reported China Daily citing Song Xiaojun, a military commentator in Beijing.

Building an aircraft carrier battle group, according to some Chinese experts, has always been India's military strategy, which has been carried out systematically through overseas purchases and domestic development.

"The new indigenous carrier will further strengthen India's naval power," Wang Daguang, a researcher of military equipment based in Beijing, said. "It will also add some bargaining chips with the world's major military vendors such as Russia."

Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the People's Liberation Army Naval Military Studies Research Institute, opined that the Indian navy would be more capable of patrolling distant oceans when the carrier is in service.

"India's first self-made carrier, along with reinforced naval strength, will further disrupt the military balance in South Asia," Zhang said, adding that India was very likely to quicken its pace to steer eastward to the Pacific.

INS Vikrant is set for extensive trials in 2016 before being inducted into the navy by the end of 2018, the Chinese daily said citing reports.

"The deck is designed to enable aircraft such as the MiG-29 to operate from the carrier," the daily said citing an Indian navy official.

The 6,000-tonne Arihant was first unveiled in 2009 as part of a project to build five submarines armed with nuclear-tipped missiles and torpedoes. It is powered by an 85-megawatt nuclear reactor and can reach a speed up to 44 km an hour, according to Indian defence officials.

The Indian navy inducted a Russian-leased nuclear submarine into service in April 2012, joining China, France, the US, Britain, and Russia in the club of countries with nuclear-powered vessels.

--Indo-Asian New Service

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