Rani Gaidinliu – 13-year-old freedom fighter from India

The Indian Navy created a Naval Aviation Directorate in 1948, five years before the inauguration of the first Sea-land aircraft. wikimedia

Sure enough, the Indian Navy created a Naval Aviation Directorate in 1948, five years before the first Sea-land aircraft was inducted. However, due to the vicissitudes of a limited budget versus huge public spending demands from all sectors, the Navy’s requirement for a strong air weapon and aircraft carriers was reduced in 1950 to only a Fleet Requirements Unit (FRU) with 12 aircraft.

Despite the vagaries of the defense budget, Indian naval aviation has followed a sure growth path – from Sea-land aircraft to Firefly, Vampire, Alize, Sea Harrier and Mig 29K; from Super Constellation to IL 38, Tu 142, Dornier and P 8I; a variety of helicopters and increasing infrastructure, technology base and quality workforce.

Transport aviation is ostensibly the barometer of a navy’s aeronautical prowess. Perhaps this is the reason why those who have it desire to keep it and those who do not have it desire it. The operational history of the RI carriers illustrates the capabilities of the carriers. The late Vice Admiral GM Hiranandani accurately recounted the deployment of INS Vikrant during the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War in his book Transition to Triumph: The Indian Navy. In this war, INS Vikrant dominated the Eastern Maritime Theater where it repeatedly struck ports in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), destroyed around 60,000 tons of merchant ships and sunk a number of warships. Pakistani. In short, Vikrant was instrumental in enforcing a maritime blockade on East Pakistan.

India is preparing to secure its maritime interests in a gradually evolving global strategic stage, there is the emergence of a complex security scenario in the Indian Ocean region (IOR) and beyond. wikimedia

In recent years, aircraft carriers have proven their capability in various conflicts such as the First Gulf War in 1990 (Operation Desert Storm), the War on Terrorism in Afghanistan in 2001 (Operation Enduring Freedom) and the Second Gulf War. Gulf in 2003 (Iraqi Operation Freedom). Significantly, carriers have played an equally crucial role in containing and managing non-war situations, demonstrating national will and supporting friendly countries. In the context of India, the possible roles of aircraft carriers could be the support of the land battle, the security of maritime lines of communication, the protection of vital interests abroad and the defense of island territories. Indian Navy Captain Gurpreet Khurana elucidated these roles in an article titled “eAircraft Carriers and India’s Naval Doctrine”.

While the most advanced navies accept the importance of aircraft carriers, critics have often referred to these versatile platforms as a “self-licking ice cream cone” and “white elephant”, stressing the need for a large number of escorts to protect the aircraft carrier. Lee Willet refuted these criticisms in the book “British Naval Aviation: The First Hundred Years”. He draws attention to the fact that “no aircraft carriers have been sunk since 1945 and the vulnerability of aircraft carriers is not a military matter but a lasting one for budgetary and joint battles”. Former Navy Chief Admiral Arun Prakash believes that instead of needing protection from a large number of escorts, the aircraft carrier actually offers protection to the force that can l ‘to accompany.

While the debate over the profitability of aircraft carriers is likely to continue, their role and needs in naval warfare cannot be overstated. The United States, for example, was only able to respond to the Korean crisis on time because it had aircraft carriers that were readily deployable on call. Likewise, it was the aircraft carriers HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible that enabled the United Kingdom to defend the Falkland Islands.

In an incisive article titled “Lessons from Modern Warfare: What the Conflicts of the Post-Cold War Years Should Have Taught Us”, Benjamin Lambeth concludes that aircraft carriers can replace ground air power and that they are sometimes the only option available to wield air power. .

As India prepares to secure its maritime interests in an increasingly evolving global strategic stage, a complex security scenario emerges in the Indian Ocean region. wikimedia

Very often, however, aircraft carriers supplement land air power, as evidenced by the performance of the US Navy aircraft carriers in Operation Iraqi Freedom. These characteristics of bridge-based air power are essential for India’s maritime security. With ever increasing maritime trade, overseas investment, and the presence of a large Indian diaspora across the globe, there is no way to ensure the security of our maritime interests other than assured reach within remote regions and the ability to react quickly to a development crisis. The navy, through its mobility, scope, durability and versatility, can preserve our maritime interests overseas as well as at home in our maritime areas and island territories. However, when ships are deployed beyond the range of land-based aircraft, they require the support of on-board aircraft. This ability of aircraft carriers to protect their own forces and project their power ashore is what makes them a key component of naval power.

As India prepares to secure its maritime interests in an increasingly evolving global strategic stage, a complex security scenario emerges in the Indian Ocean region (IOR) and beyond. The rise of an assertive China and its profound repercussions in the economic, geostrategic and cultural fields symbolize the turbulence of world affairs in general and Indo-Pacific in particular. The rapid modernization of the Chinese navy – which is now the largest navy in the world, according to a report released earlier this year by the US Department of Defense – is a major concern for its neighbors. The Chinese Navy currently operates two aircraft carriers and is building two more that are said to be much larger and more efficient. The consequences of such exponential growth in China’s naval capacity will most likely have consequences for India’s maritime security.

The pan-IOR Vision for Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) articulated by the Prime Minister of India requires a robust and agile navy, capable of ensuring the security of the seas in our areas of maritime interest and of meet a wide range of potentials. crises in the region. Aircraft carriers are the sine qua non of such a navy which aspires to protect fundamental national interests. It is through the insight of the first officers of the Navy and the constant guidance and course corrections of their successors, that the Indian Navy today has built a credible and effective air weapon. This must be preserved and reinforced in order to forge an adaptive capacity to meet emerging regional maritime challenges.

(Article originally published on IANSlife) IANS / SS

Keywords: Aeronautics, Indian, maritime, India, aircraft carrier

Thelma J. Longworth

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