Category Archives: Littorals

Jade Necklace: Naval Dimension of Chinese Engagement with Coastal Nations Across the Oceans

(Published IndraStra Global, 17 Dec 2017; for complete interactive experience visit )

“Be extremely subtle even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.”  

 Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Over a period, Chinese analysts have zeroed upon various countries/islands, which they consider inimical by being under the influence of the United States of America due to trade, military or common political goals. These include; countries/islands in Central Asian Region, Mongolia, India, and Diego Garcia in the outer periphery; Hawaii, Singapore, & Vietnam in the next closer circle; followed by Guam, Australia and New Zealand due to vicinity of second island chain; and Philippines (now tilting in favor of China), ROK & Japan within or around the first island chain. The aim of this article is to provide a naval perspective into the Chinese maritime engagements with nations having seacoasts.

Western Pacific Stand-Off Defenses-Carrier Killer DF-21 D and Guam Killer DF-26

In 2010, The US DoD acknowledged that the Dong-Feng 21D (DF-21D) Chinese anti-ship ballistic missile with a range of 1450 km had attained an initial operating capability. This missile can target a moving aircraft carrier from land-based mobile launchers and has maneuverable re-entry vehicles (MaRVs) with a terminal guidance system. It is understood that this missile is capable of destroying an aircraft carrier with a single hit. The emergence of DF-21D has led the US Navy to rework the ‘carrier support’ warfare approach with respect to China and recommence building of its ballistic missile defense destroyers.

In 2015, China displayed The Dong-Feng 26 (DF-26). It is an intermediate-range ballistic missile produced by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). The DF-26 has a range of 3,000–4,000 km, and is said to have nuclear, conventional, and anti-ship strike variants. It is capable of targeting  American military installations at Guam therefore, it has earned the tag of the “Guam Express” or “Guam Killer”. Guam provides the US a strategic base to target the Asian continent with B-52s, F-35s, and F-22s. It also provides basic operational turnaround facilities for carriers and submarines.

Security Concerns-East China Sea

“China’s long-term goal is to build a real ‘blue’ water navy with global reach” – Song Zhongping, Military Commentator

China has built a pier for warships near a military base site close to the disputed Senkaku Island [2] in the East China Sea. A new 70 to 80-meter long pier for warships has been constructed on one of the islands in the Nanji island chain. It lies close to Wenzhou and is nearer to China than the nearest base of Japan. It is understood that a Coast Guard base is being constructed at Wenzhou, which would lend effective support to vessels for monitoring the Senkaku islands.

Security Concerns-South China Sea and Indian Ocean Region

The naval strategy of countries with large coastlines and hostile maritime neighbors invariably factors in submarines and anti-submarine warfare. A modern submarine is a potent multi-role asset that can carry out ISR, special ops, offensive missions, sea denial, and SLOC protection among others. In case it carries strategic weapons, it acts as an important leg of the nuclear triad. Undersea warfare by deploying submarines and/or other unmanned underwater systems is considered crucial in anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) environments. Considering the offensive capability a submarine bestows upon the nation operating it, there is some merit in also examining the likely basing /sale by China of conventional submarines and its associated high technology in the IOR.

South China Sea (SCS) – In early 2016, Satellite photographs had revealed that China had deployed two batteries of eight HQ-9 surface-to-air missile launchers as well as a radar system, on Woody Island.[3] HQ-9 is a new generation medium-to-long-range, active radar homing, track via missile SAM. Infrastructure for aircraft, runways, and missiles is visible on Subi reef, Fiery Cross reef, and Mischief reef as well. China has continued building a network of artificial islands and turning them into mini military bases.

Submarine Operations: It is understood that complete control of SCS is considered essential by China to provide its expanded submarine fleet unrestricted and unobserved access to the Pacific Ocean from their base in Yulin, Hainan. The underwater channels and straits in SCS facilitate clandestine movement of the submarines through the first and second island chains. It is also understood that China State Shipbuilding is likely to construct the “underwater great wall” a sonar surveillance system with ship and submarine sensors for effective monitoring of foreign vessels in the SCS.

Indian Ocean Region

Djibouti Naval Base – China’s support facility for PLA Navy at Djibouti about 8 km from the US military base is it’s most ambitious and first of its kind foray in having a military base outside of China. The facility would have ship and helicopter maintenance facilities, weapon stores, and support infrastructure for a small contingent of PLAN personnel [5]. This development is of prime importance for India in view of Djibouti’s vicinity to Gwadar as well as the fact that it has been placed under the Western Theatre Command [6] at Chengdu, which would have integral naval assets as well as assets from the PLA Rocket Force  (which controls strategic assets) of China.

Pakistan – In August this year, it was reported that Pakistan is likely to acquire eight attack submarines [8] from China. They are probably export versions of Type 039 and Type 039A/041 (with Air Independent Propulsion). Primary weapons for these submarines are the 533 mm Yu-4 torpedoes, it is also possible that they can fire the Yu-6 wire-guided torpedoes. The torpedo tubes are capable of firing the YJ-8 anti-ship cruise missile, AScM, with a range of 80 km. The submarine can carry a mix of torpedoes, missiles, and mines. The Type 041’s weapon package includes the YU-6 wire-guided torpedoes, mines, and the YJ-8 AScM. It could in the future field the supersonic YJ-18 missile.

Bangladesh –  First of the two Chinese submarines [9] was delivered to Bangladesh on 14 November 2016. The Type 035G diesel-electric submarines, carry torpedoes and mines and are capable of attacking enemy ships and submarines.

Thailand – The Royal Thai Navy is likely to finalize [10] the purchase of three Chinese submarines after dithering over it for some time.

Malaysia – The Royal Malaysian Navy, RMN is planning to buy up to ten littoral mission ships [11] (patrol craft) from China. It is also likely that Malaysia may consider Chinese submarines as a replacement for its HDW submarines in future. It is expanding the RMN Kota Kinabalu submarine base with workshops and air defense systems [12].

Berthing Facilities for PLA Navy in IOR

Myanmar– Construction of two deep-water ports at Kyaukphyu by a consortium headed by CITIC group of China [13] would provide China access to the Bay of Bengal and hence to the IOR. The government has earmarked 1708 hectares for the Kyaukphyu SEZ, with two deep-sea ports, industrial zone, and a housing project.

Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka is trying to breathe life into the Hambantota port and infrastructure project by handing over controlling interests to a Chinese consortium [14].

Maldives – There are indications that Maldives may let the China build a seaport at Gaadhoo Island [15 in the southern atoll. The location of the island is significant as it sits at the entrance to the one-and-a-half degree SLOC channel.

Pakistan – Gwadar port was inaugurated in November 2016 [16] with 250 containers carrying Chinese goods shipped on Chinese ships to the Middle East and African countries.

Tanzanian and Kenyan Ports – Bagamoyo port of Tanzania will be operated by China Merchant Holdings. Lamu port in Kenya is being developed by the China Communications Construction Company [17], and China Roads and Bridges Company is going to construct a modern port in Kisumu [18], Kenya (Lake Victoria).

Access to IOR of Chinese Mechanized Forces

Maj. Gen Bakshi, a strategic analyst has brought out the following two important facets of CPEC in his recent article [19].

The alignment of the CPEC corridor includes two major loops that come close to the Indian borders in Punjab and Rajasthan where major tank battles had been fought during the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars. These loops in the CPEC grant a military bias to the otherwise proclaimed trade route.

The Chinese army in its thrust on rapid modernization has mechanized its formations to wheel/track based formations that make them very agile. It also allows them to bring their tremendous firepower to Indo-Pak borders through CPEC in the case of any conflict.

Needless to assert that the same firepower can be transshipped rapidly to Gulf, Europe and African coast if required.

Security Concerns-Elsewhere

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The following table accessed from SIPRI highlights the types of weapon systems exported by China during 2014 and 2015.

TIV of arms exports from China (Weapon Systems)-2014-2015
Generated: 10 December 2016
Figures are SIPRI Trend Indicator Values (TIVs) expressed in US$ m. at constant (1990) prices.
Figures may not add up due to the conventions of rounding.
A ‘0’ indicates that the value of deliveries is less than US$0.5m
For more information, see
Source: SIPRI Arms Transfers Database
2014 2015        Total           
Aircraft 215 409 624
Air defence systems 52 64 116
Armoured vehicles 302 384 686
Artillery 94 27 121
Engines 1 1
Missiles 197 206 403
Sensors 30 10 40
Ships 470 865 1335
Total 1360 1966 3326

The following table accessed from SIPRI provides arms export by China during 2014 and 2015.

TIV of arms exports from China to nations-2014-2015
Generated: 10 December 2016
Figures are SIPRI Trend Indicator Values (TIVs) expressed in US$ m at constant (1990) prices.
Figures may not add up due to the conventions of rounding.
A ‘0’ indicates that the value of deliveries is less than US$ 0.5 m
For more information, see
Source: SIPRI Arms Transfers Database
   2014 2015                     Total
Algeria 68 254 322
Angola 1 1
Bangladesh 245 474 719
Bolivia 20 20
Cameroon 74 74
Djibouti 8 7 14
Egypt 1 1
Ethiopia 2 2
Ghana 13 13
Indonesia 39 33 72
Iran 9 9 19
Iraq 17 17
Jordan 1 1
Kenya 7 10 16
Myanmar 267 288 554
Nigeria 57 58 115
Pakistan 394 565 959
Peru 13 13
Saudi Arabia 8 8
Seychelles 10 10
South Sudan 12 12
Sudan 32 27 59
Syria 5 5
Tanzania 26 20 46
Thailand 8 8
Trinidad and Tobago 16 16
Venezuela 77 147 223
Zambia 8 8
Total 1360 1966 3326

-It is interesting to note from the above table that 24 countries out of the 28 countries to which China has exported Arms and Ammunition have a maritime border!

-Further, the only four land locked countries that receive arms and ammunition from China have contiguous boundaries with Coastal nations, which in turn are beneficiaries of Chinese arms export. (Bolivia-Peru; Ethiopia-Kenya & Djibouti; South Sudan-Kenya; Zambia-Tanzania)

-it can be seen that the list covers nations in Asia, Gulf, both coasts of Africa, and Latin America. This intern implies ease of berthing facilities for Chinese Naval vessels in ports of these nations.

Gateway to Europe 

“The cooperation at Piraeus port is not just an economic collaboration but has strategic characteristics. Greece, via the Piraeus port, can indeed become China’s gateway into Europe to the benefit of China and Greece,”  Pitsiorlas, Chairman of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund privatization agency.

Greece – The ancient Greek port of Piraeus and one of the largest in Europe, located in the Mediterranean basin has been acquired by COSCO Shipping of China after purchasing 51 percent stake in the port [20]. COSCO Shipping is scheduled to construct a second container terminal for Chinese exports to Europe. The sale another Greek port Thessaloniki; which is being eyed by Chinese companies; is currently put on hold.

Turkey – In September 2015, Chinese state-owned shipping, and logistics company COSCO Pacific, along with China Merchants Holdings International and CIC Capital, had acquired a majority stake in one of the largest container terminals of Turkey, namely Kumport at Ambarli coast of Istanbul [21].

Thus, China has established a critical foothold in Europe by acquiring the Piraeus port as well as the Turkish container terminal in Kumport as part of its strategic One Belt One Road strategic initiative.

Chinese Foray into, Antarctica, and the Arctic (Bering Sea)  

“China’s rapid Antarctic…expansion reflects Beijing’s desire to become a maritime, and polar, great power” – Prof Anne-Marie Brady, Antarctic specialist

China is setting up its first Air Squadron [23] in Antarctica to support its ongoing scientific explorations. China is also a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty that bans the military activity in the region, but there are many dual capability missions, which can aid military research and operations in face of contingencies.

In September 2015, in a first of its kind mission five PLAN ships sailed in the Bering Sea off Alaska [24], interestingly, the PLAN ships were in the area during the visit of President Barack Obama to Alaska. With global warming likely to open the Northern Sea Route sooner than later, China is keen to utilize this opportunity as the route cuts down the distance and passage time to Europe. However, since Canada claims sovereignty over the said waterways, this could pose “the biggest direct challenge to Canadian sovereignty in the Northwest Passage,” [25] according to Professor Rob Huebert, of University of Calgary.

Global Outlook of PLAN – Chinese Navy has undertaken modernization of its Naval fleet to meet its Global Navy focus as part of its geopolitical strategy. As analyzed in a Wikistrat report, “Chinese Navy ships have transited the Red Sea and Suez Canal, the Mediterranean, the Cape of Good Hope, the Bosporus, the Panama Canal, the Strait of Magellan, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and have made port calls all along both the east and west coasts of Africa, Bulgaria, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Australia. Chinese warships have sailed into American territorial waters near the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska in the Bering Sea” [26].


“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.” -Sun Tzu, The Art of War

A global strategic net has been cast by China by creating fundamental structures for sea trade and commerce. China has been carrying out calibrated development of its maritime capability in mercantile shipping, fishing, undersea exploration & exploitation, and the Navy. It is likely that by 2025 the world would have to come to terms with the global maritime status of China as also the blue water capability of PLAN. The attendant security issues and concerns would follow.

It is no longer a string of pearls in the IOR, it is a studded ‘Jade Necklace Across the Oceans’ that stares at the developed world in defiance today.


  • Preclude confrontation given the precarious global economic situation and nuclear deterrence
  • Preclude submission given the dispositions of the existing and emerging power centers
  • Preclude peaceful co-existence, as it is utopian under the existing circumstances where national interests have prevented even an internationally acceptable definition of terrorism
  • Could include rapid building up of a robust coalition to create two distinct power centers, provided the United States is able to synergize its economic might with those of the like-minded nations and tamper the perception that it is a global hegemon.

Time to act is now!

 “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”  – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

  Publication Details:

Kulshrestha, Sanatan. “FEATURED | Jade Necklace: Naval Dimension of Chinese Engagement with Coastal Nations Across the Oceans” IndraStra Global 02, no. 12 (2016) 0032 | | ISSN 2381-3652|




























Plugging Gaps in Strategic MDA

(Published SP’s Naval Forces, Oct 2016-Nov 2016, Vol 11 No.5)

Plugging Gaps in Strategic MDA


Maritime Domain Awareness is “the effective understanding of anything associated with the global maritime environment that could impact the security, safety, economy or environment of U.S. This is accomplished through the integration of intelligence, surveillance, observation, and navigation systems into one common operating picture (COP) that is accessible throughout the U.S. Government.

National Security Presidential Directive 41, 2004

The oceans are complex mediums whose nature provides ample opportunity for an enemy to avoid detection—weather, sea states, and coastal land mass all present considerable challenges to modern sensors. Peacetime economic use of the seas complicates this problem enormously. The oceans are the world’s foremost (and most unregulated) highway, home to a vast and wide variety of international neutral shipping that possess no apparent threat. Determining the enemy in such a crowded and complex environment is difficult during conventional war, but during an asymmetric conflict such as the global war on terror (GWOT), it is a formidable task. Oceans demand a much higher level of awareness than that is normally required in a conventional naval conflict. This is recognised by the formal definition of MDA as articulated by the US government vide their definition of MDA quoted above

It is apparent that the goal of MDA is far more than simply looking for potential maritime enemies poised to attack India. The implications of “Anything associated” with the maritime environment that can influence the security, safety, economy, or environment” go far beyond a classic maritime threat. As per the US interpretation, these include smuggling of people or dangerous cargoes, piracy, proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), identification and protection of critical maritime infrastructure, oil spills, weather, and environmental concerns among other events.

Maritime events that could potentially affect India are not the only wide-ranging element of MDA it is also essential that threats be identified as they evolve. The global nature of MDA activities occurring overseas and in foreign ports is very much a part of MDA. MDA must therefore be exercised over all oceans worldwide, and potentially cover all maritime interests that ultimately effect India. Putting in place an effective MDA is a herculean task viewing the range of potential security challenges and enormous geographic area represented by the maritime domain. MDA’s core is applying the vessel tracking process to a layered defence model centred on the coastline of India, the ultimate goal of which is to detect potential threats as early and as far away from the Indian coastline as possible. As there is no single high value unit to protect, MDA “layers” are expanded to include an entire coastline with the overall goal of coordinated surveillance. Not all areas in these “layers” are considered equally, but rather additional attention is given to areas that are potential targets for the terrorist/enemy.

Gaps in Strategic MDA. MDA’s goal is to obtain a sense of global awareness that reaches beyond the confines of the tactical and regional levels. If MDA was simply a defensive strategy against a known military or terrorist threat, it could be obtained by forming defensive layers around India. However, as an informational/awareness system, its goals are far broader, seeking to understand all potential maritime threats to India, many of which could originate overseas in an inoffensive manner. Strategic MDA requires a broad perspective and capabilities at the highest levels of analysis, intelligence, and policy. The Government of India has put in place a formidable plan for MDA, and the individual systems are being setup prior to final integration and fusing of data. It is expected that the MDA would be fully functional in a year or so. However, a broader oceanic horizon needs to be factored in while acquiring futuristic technological capabilities. This should be inclusive of not only extensive and broader spatial operating arena, but also much wider and intensive foray in to the verticals below the surface to the sea bed and above up to periphery of the atmosphere. Unless implications of this nature are anticipated and factored in, technological forecasts themselves would trail behind the rapid advancing pace of technology and the synergies being achieved due to harmonization and adaptation inter and intra scientific fields. Therefore, it is imperative that holistic perspectives into the information consciousness arena include the oceanic domain awareness as well as it’s connect with India’s security and MDA.

The coast and Open Ocean are critical domains for the security of a nation with sea as boundaries, both at home and abroad. National-security operations in the ocean take place globally and often require continuous, near real time monitoring of environment using tools such as autonomous sensors, targeted observations, and adaptive modeling. These capabilities, combined with improved understanding of the ocean environment enabled by other ocean science research activities, will support accurate ocean-state assessments and allow future forces to conduct joint and combined operations in near shore and deep-ocean, anywhere and at anytime.

Thus, it can be surmised that currently the MDA focuses upon the maritime security scenario specific to naval operations; there is a need to look into the overarching oceanic environment. This would require sophisticated sensors and computational capabilities. There is therefore a requirement to fuse the tactical, and regional components with strategic knowledge based architecture.

This expansion will require advancing sensor and technology capability and/or development, particularly for autonomous & persistent observations. Data collected by the observing systems must be accessible through a comprehensive national data network, through either a single system or a distributed network. Developing this data network will require new methodologies that address gaps in data collection, sharing, and interoperability of technologies, and should permit integration of existing research into operational systems.

Technology Perspective

Asia-Pacific is a vast region and therefore data generation and collection is a humongous and costly task. The coverage and resolution provided by manned resources and satellites remains grossly deficient considering the large area, time needed, and multitude of tasking requirements. This gap can be plugged by utilizing the autonomous Aerial, surface and underwater systems. These could provide persistence, mobility, and real time data. The manned systems could thereafter be deployed more selectively.

 “…[t]he main advantage of using drones is precisely that they are unmanned. With the operators safely tucked in air-conditioned rooms far away, there’s no pilot at risk of being killed or maimed in a crash. No pilot to be taken captive by enemy forces. No pilot to cause a diplomatic crisis if shot down in a “friendly country” while bombing or spying without official permission” 

Medea Benjamin, 2013

In essence, the autonomous unmanned systems provide the advantages of large area coverage, prolonged deployment, low risk, much lower acquisition & operating costs, direct tasking and near real time data reporting. In case of surface and under water systems however the transit times are higher than the Aerial systems.

Aerial Systems. The Lockheed Martin High Altitude Airship (HAA™) is an un-tethered, unmanned lighter-than-air vehicle that is being designed to operate above the jet stream in a geostationary position to deliver persistent station keeping as a surveillance platform, telecommunications relay, or a weather observer. It will provide the military with, ever-present ISR, and rapid communications connectivity over the entire battle space. The airship is estimated to survey a 600-mile diameter area and millions of cubic miles of airspace.

Global Hawk is the long-range, high-altitude ISR UAV of the US Air Force manufactured by Northrop Grumman. It can fly for up to 32 hours at altitudes as high as 60,000 feet, with a range of 12,300 nautical miles, providing imaging and signals intelligence, as well as communications support, to troops around the world.

The US Navy will continue with Triton MQ-4C UAV of Northrop Grumman. It can stay aloft for over 24 hours at 17,000 m. It has speeds of up to 610 km/h. Its surveillance sensor is the AN/ZPY-3 Multi-Function Active Sensor (MFAS) X-band active electronically scanned array AESA radar with a 360-degree field-of-regard, capable of surveying 7,000,000 sq km of sea.

Sensors Packages. The ARGUS-IS, is a  DARPA project contracted to BAE Systems and is a type of  of wide-area persistent surveillance system. It is a camera system that utilizes hundreds of mobile phone cameras in a mosaic to video and auto-track every moving object within a 36 square mile area. ARGUS-IS provides military users an “eyes-on” persistent wide area surveillance capability. The system streams a million terabytes of HD video per day. The enormous amount of data can be stored  indefinitely and subjected to review as and when required. It is understood that ARGUS can be easily deployed on UAVs. The software utilized by ARGUS-IS is Persistics developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. It is a data compression program, which can compress the raw wide area video data from aircraft and UAVs by 1000 times and achieve a reduction of pre-processed images by a factor of ten

Autonomous Surface and Sub Surface Vehicles. ASV unmanned Marine Systems of UK manufacturer C-Enduro, which is a long endurance autonomous surface vehicle, used to safely and cost effectively collect data at sea. Built to operate in all marine environments, C-Enduro uses energy harvesting technology combined with a self-righting hull. It can house different sensor packages like, keel mounted sensors, CTD lowered by winch, meteorological sensors, Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler ADCP, Multi Beam Echo Sounder MBES, side-scan sonar, acoustic modem, ASW (towed array or dipping), and electronic warfare.

Thales, is involved in the Defence Science Technology Laboratory (DSTL research programme MAPLE (Maritime Autonomous Platform Exploitation). The MAPLE programme is developing the future architecture for Unmanned Systems Command and Control, by enabling multiple unmanned platforms, such as unmanned air vehicles (UAV), unmanned surface vehicles (USV), and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV), and their payloads to be innovatively commanded and controlled from a single control station.

Wave Gliders; due to their unique design; provide advantages of; indefinite, long range mission endurance; all weather operations; unlimited ocean area coverage; real time data acquisition; multiple sensor payloads; low acquisition & operating costs, and autonomous operation. The main manufacturer is Liquid Robotics. One of Liquid Robotics wave glider, the SHARC is designed to meet unique requirements of Defense and National Security applications. Over 200 Wave Gliders have been delivered internationally.

The principle of operation of Ocean Gliders involves small changes in buoyancy and wings to achieve forward motion. Control of pitch and role is done by adjusting ballast. It uses GPS as well as internal sensors for navigation. It can travel thousands of miles at depths of up to 1000m. There are three established manufacturers of sea gliders , namely iRobot who make Seaglider, Teledyne Webb manufacture Slocum Glider and Bluefin Robotics who make Spray Glider. ACSA, a French glider firm, has recently launched the SeaExplorer, a streamlined, wingless glider. A glider called Sea Wing, has been developed at the Shenyang Institute of Automation, in China, by Yuan Dongliang of the country’s Institute of Oceanography. It was tested last year and operated successfully in the western Pacific at depths of up to 800 meters. Japanese researchers, too, are building gliders. One is a small, low-cost version called ALEX that has independently movable wings and the other is a solar-powered device called SORA.

Data Analytics. The use of autonomous systems for  MDA is an imperative for India. However, it would also be important for military officials to make sense of the vast amount of data that is being generated. A simple full day UAV mission can provide upwards of 10 terabytes of data of which only about 5% is analyzed and the rest stored. Currently, analysts are restricted by the download speeds of data depending upon their locations. Untagged data leads to downloading of similar data from other sources by the analyst to firm up their conclusions. ISR data from different sources is stored in different locations with varying access levels, this leads to incomplete analysis. Single network domain providing access to data at multiple levels of security classification is not yet available. This is leading to a synergetic relationship with digital industry where in military no longer develops its own hardware and software denovo, but harnesses and modifies the ‘commercial of the  shelf’ (COTS) items. Some common technologies in the data analytics ecosystem are, Apache Hadoop, Apache Hive / Apache Pig, Apache Sqoop, In-memory Databases, NoSQL Databases and MPP Platforms. Some of the firms working in this space with the military are Palantir, Sap, Oracle, Teradata, and SYNTASA. Security of collected and processed data also would require adequate attention, this could be dovetailed with the cyber defense effort of the armed forces.

Major gaps in the Indian MDA infrastructure can thus be plugged by the use of autonomous systems along with the associated data analytics and data protection platforms.

Dimensions of Submarine Threat in the Littorals –A Perspective

(Published :  “FEATURED | Dimensions of Submarine Threat in the Littorals –A Perspective by RADM Dr. S. Kulshrestha (Retd.), INDIAN NAVY.” IndraStra Global 01, no. 11 (2015): 0408. ISSN 2381-3652,)

Dimensions of Submarine Threat in the Littorals –A Perspective


The littorals present a very complex environment in which the platform, weapon and the target interplay is dependent upon the real time and archival understanding of the medium parameters. The article aims to provide a perspective into the extent of the littoral underwater submarine threat and the constraints which hamper its successful prosecution. It also brings out the fact that the Blue water Navy would have to enhance its environmental understanding and modify its approach towards anti submarine operations to reduce likely attritions during littoral conflicts. The article brings out the imperative need to dove tail fundamental environmental research and Indian Naval requirements to tackle the threats in littorals.


 “…the very shallow water (VSW) region is a critical point for our offensive forces and can easily, quickly and cheaply be exploited by the enemy. The magnitude of the current deficiency in reconnaissance and neutralization in these regions and the impact on amphibious assault operations were demonstrated during Operation Desert Storm.”

Maj. Gen. Edward J. Hanlon Jr., Director of Expeditionary Warfare, Sea Power, May 1997

A blue water navy’s ability to execute manoeuvre in littorals is severely compromised due to confined sea spaces, lesser depths, heavy traffic, threats due to lurking quiet diesel submarines, coastal missile batteries, swarms of armed boats, deployed mines and threats from the air. The definition of a littoral region encompasses waters close to the shores as well as greater than 50 nm at sea. The Indian Navy, like all the other blue water navies has not been fundamentally positioned for close combat encounters. It is has generally been expected that sea warfare would have standoff distances of at least 50/60 km if not more between adversaries   (outside range of torpedoes and guns). If Carrier groups and anti ship cruise missile (ASCM) cruisers are deployed, the standoff can be up to a couple of hundred kms (ASCM and Air craft limits). However today littorals present an inevitable close quarter engagement situation with CSG remaining well clear of coastal missile batteries and aircraft operating from shore based airfields. In case of countries like China, the CSG may even remain a thousand km away to save itself from a barrage of carrier killer missile like the Don Feng 21 D with a range of over 2000 kms[i].

 Thus littorals have withered away the advantage of the CSG and the big ships as manoeuvring in close quarters is not feasible any more. The lighter ships would have to fight in the littorals with a much larger risk of attrition from the diesel electric submarine, mines, swarm of boats and shore based assets. The blue waters represent large swaths of sea with adequate depths for operations, and much less uncertainties in the sensor – weapon environment. The littorals are confined zones with reducing depths and a very adverse sensor environment. This has drastically compressed reaction times leading to requirements of great agility for the men of war.

 A worthy defender is always considered to be in an advantageous position in the littorals, fundamentally due to the intrinsic knowledge and experience in operating in his home environment. It constitutes what the US DOD calls an access denial area likely to impinge upon the US national interests in the Vision 2004 document this has been articulated as “To win on this 21st Century battlefield, the U.S. Navy must be able to dominate the littorals, being out and about, ready to strike on a moment’s notice, anywhere, anytime[ii] The Indian Navy has in all probability identified areas in Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean where it may have to engage in littoral conflicts either singly or in concert with coalition of navies, should such a contingency arise. On the other hand 26/11 had opened the coasts to attack by terrorists and the Government of India has initiated efforts to tighten its coastal security. As to the plans of defending own littorals against a formidable expeditionary force, nothing much is known in the open domain, in all likely hood it remains a simplistic defensive model due to insufficient focus and the inevitable funding. The fact remains that ocean rim state navies today are focussing more on littoral capability than building a blue water navy. Indian Navy has to consider the littoral capability seriously whilst modernising and achieve a balance, depending upon its current and future threat perceptions. The blue water force has to have an embedded littoral component force so that the IN can operate in littorals far away from her home ports.

 The major under water threats comprise of mines and undetected diesel submarines. However as far as mines are concerned, they are every coastal country’s weapon of choice as they are economic, easy to lay but very hard to detect and sweep. They are the psycho sentinels of defence, since unless their existence is proved it has to be assumed that waters are mine infested and have to be swept before warships can attempt a foray in to the littorals[iii]. The clearing of mines for safe passage is a very time consuming and intensive exercise which introduces significant delays in any operation, while taking away element of surprise and granting time to adversary to plan tactics. Therefore in case delays are not acceptable, littoral operations would have to cater for some attrition on account of mines as well as navigation hazards posed due to sunken or damaged ships on the sea route.

 The aim of this article is to derive a perspective in to the fundamental dimensions of the littoral medium, platform and weapon with respect to the underwater submarine threat which constitutes the most potent hazard to a powerful navy.

Operating Littoral Environment

The littorals comprise of different types of zones in which a Navy has to operate. These include continental shelf, surf zones, straits and archipelagos, harbours and estuaries. The main thrust of naval operations hinges upon the underwater acoustics (sonic ray plots) which provide not so accurate measure of effectiveness of Sonars. In the continental shelf not much is known about the tactical usage of bioluminescence, plankton or suspended particles and other non acoustic environmental information. Quantifiable effect on performance of different sensors and weapons under various conditions is also not available to the Commander to help him deploy them optimally. Further predictions about conditions for naval operations in continental shelf areas of interest are at best sketchy and no reliable database exists to provide correlation between various environmental conditions that may be encountered. In the surf zone region (within 10 m depth line till the beach), temporal and spatial environmental data is required for effective planning of naval operations however, there are large variations in acoustic data over short and long term. Archipelagos and straits are subject to; swift changes in currents and water masses due to restricted topography, dense shipping, fishing and human traffic which complicate planning. Most of the harbours are estuarine in nature and present a highly intricate and variable environment (tides, currents, wave amplitudes etc) warranting a holistic approach to understand the same.

Thus it can be seen that carrying out missions in littorals also involve other aspects of environment in addition to the uncertain under water acoustics which have a direct bearing on the missions. These aspects include real time and archival data bases of; meteorological surface conditions required for efficient operation of IR, Electro optical, and electromagnetic sensor and weapon systems; under water topography, accurate bathymetry, bottom composition, and detailed assessment of oceanographic water column environment for under water sensors and weapons.

The availability of overarching oceanic environmental knowledge would provide insight into enemy submarine operating/hiding areas, location of mines and underwater sea ward defences. Currently the Indian Navy does not have the capability to carry out exhaustive littoral environmental scanning let alone field any sensor or weapon system that can adapt to the dynamic littoral environment and carry out missions with conviction. In fact, even for own littoral zones this type of information is not available which would enable effective deployment of static or dynamic defences.

Effect of Environment on Propagation of Sound in Shallow Waters

A brief description of the acoustic environment in shallow waters is relevant at this stage. The main factor affecting acoustic propagation in deep oceans is the increase in pressure of water column with increasing depth as the temperature remains nearly constant. The speed of sound increases with depth and the sound waves finally hit the bottom and reflect upwards. In shallow waters the rays tend to refract, that is bend upward without going to the bottom. This phenomenon takes place when the refracted sound velocity equals the sound velocity emitted by the source. On reaching the region of the source they again refract towards the depths and this process continues.[iv] In very shallow waters the sound rays are reflected upwards from the bottom. The amount of sound energy reflected upwards depends directly on the nature of the sea bottom. Harder the sea bottom better is the reflection and vice versa.[1]In shallow waters it is clear that the sound speed depends mainly on the temperature which in turn depends upon the amount incident solar radiation, wind speeds, wave action etc.

It can therefore be inferred that the acoustic signal in shallow waters is dependent upon factors like temperature, sea surface, nature of sea bottom, waves and tides, in-homogeneities and moving water masses amongst others. These present a very complex effect on the acoustic signal by altering its amplitude, frequency, and correlation properties. Further, multipath reflections from the bottom, as well as surface put a severe constraint on signal processing. The understanding of the underwater sound propagation remains unsatisfactory to this day. The complex interplay of acoustics, oceanography, marine geophysics, and electronics has bewildered Navies searching for submarines or mines in the shallow waters. Two fundamental issues that of beam forming and lining up the sonar are discussed in the subsequent paragraphs.

 Zurk et al[v] in their paper “Robust Adaptive Processing in Littoral Regions with Environmental Uncertainty” have addressed a real time problem in underwater, i.e. the dynamic nature of the sensor, target, medium and the interfering element’s geometry. The moving sensor, target and medium causes difficulties for adaptive beam former sonars which are designed to assume a certain level of stationary conduct over a specified time period . The time period required is dependent upon the number of elements in the array and the coherent integration time. Since large arrays give much better resolution  they have a larger number of elements, leading to a moving source transiting more beams during a given observation period. If target is in motion, the target energy is distributed over many beams weakening the signal and degrading the accuracy of targets location. The arrays with larger volumes thus have larger probability of motion losses. Some techniques to reduce these errors include sub-aperture processing, time-varying pre-filtering of the data, and reduced-dimension processing.

 Naval sonar systems have become more and more complex over time and require expert operators. Optimising sonar line ups has become essential in a littoral environment where the acoustic properties change rapidly over time and space domains. With the sonar automatically determining the optimal line up based upon desired inputs from the operator and the sensor feeds of operating environment, the sonar operator would be able to give his full attention to the task of detection, identification and classification of the targets. The necessity of   autonomous environmentally adaptive sonar control is imperative in littorals because of the tremendously large number of objects which may be present below the water line and skills of the operator would be put to test to sieve out the elusive submarines.

 Warren L.J. Fox et al. “Environmental Adaptive Sonar Control in a Tactical Setting.”[vi]  Have addressed the issue of sonar line up and have recommended neural networks for generating acoustic model simulations required.  Control schemes for Sonars are of two types, namely acoustic model-based and rule-based. Model-based controllers embed an acoustic model in the real-time controller. In acoustic model based controllers, acoustic performance predictions are inputted in to the controller, based upon available estimates of the existing environment, which in turn, gives the feasible sonar line ups. The choice of line up depends upon the chosen parameters for the operation. In the rule based controller, a generic set of operating environmental conditions are defined by the sonar and acoustic experts, which are then subjected to acoustic modelling and the sonar equations to generate the best possible line up. The existing environmental conditions would have to be assessed in real time prior to selection of the best line up available as per design. This approach however may not account for the large number of varying environments that are the hallmark of different littorals, and lead to discrepancies in results. Thus it appears that acoustic model based controller may be a better choice, as it largely takes care of the prevailing conditions at sea, than the rule based one, but it requires much more computational power and time to assess the situation prior to lining up the sonars. Warren L.J. Fox et al[vii] have recommended a method of training artificial neural networks for use in a sonar controller for ships as well as unmanned under water vehicles, to emulate the input/output relations of a computationally intensive acoustic model. Artificial neural networks are much faster and utilise far lesser computational capacity.

 The Submarine Threat in Littorals

 The shallow waters pose a serious problem for under water acoustics, they remain unfriendly to current sensors like towed arrays, variable depth sonars and air dropped sonobuoys due to depth limitations, deployment of torpedoes ( both ship and air launched) and depth charges. Shallow waters with close proximity to land also pose difficulties for radars and magnetic anomaly detectors thus providing a relatively safe operating area for small diesel electric submarines. Detection of surface craft by submarines in passive sonar mode is much easier because of their higher acoustic signatures. The surface ships would perforce resort to active sonar transmission as their passive capabilities are degraded in littorals. This in turn makes them more acoustically visible.

 The littoral submarine however has a limited period of quiet operation under water of a couple of days, as it has to either surface or snorkel for recharging its batteries by running its diesel generator sets. The battery capacity drainage is directly proportional to the running speeds, faster the submarine travels quicker is the discharge and hence larger is the discretion rate, which is the charging time required. Interestingly it is this discretion rate, which allows the submarine to be vulnerable to detection. During charging, the radiated noise of diesel generators, the IR signatures and the likely visibility of the snorkel make it susceptible to observation by trained crews. The submarine therefore prefers to lie in wait, barely moving or just sitting at the bottom for the prey to arrive.

 Development of Air independent propulsion technology (AIP) has enhanced the submerged time of submarines by a great extent (from a couple of days to about two weeks). The AIP is dependent upon availability of oxygen on board. The AIP while granting more submerged time to a submarine unfortunately provides the same level of acoustic signature as a snorkelling submarine, thus making it prone to detection.[viii]

 Fuel cell technology has been successfully interfaced with AIP and Siemens 30-50 KW fuel cell units have been fitted in the German Type 212A submarines since 2009, it is said to be much quieter , provides higher speeds and greater submerged time.

 The weapons for the submarines include mines, torpedoes and the submarine launched missiles. The technology ingress in computing, signal processing, hull design and materials have benefitted the submarine, its sensors, weapons and fire control systems. These advances coupled with vagaries of the acoustics in shallow waters have made the diesel submarine a very potent and lethal platform. While many countries have AIP submarines, of interest to India is the acquisition of these submarines by Pakistan[ix] since the Indian Navy does not operate an AIP submarine. The Indian Navy today even lacks the adequate numbers of diesel electric submarines required.

 The Unmanned Submarine (Unmanned Underwater Vehicle; UUV)

 An UUV generally is a machine that uses a propulsion system to transit through the water. It can manoeuvre in three dimensions (azimuth plane and depth), and control its speed by the use of sophisticated computerised systems onboard the vehicle itself. The term Unmanned underwater vehicle includes, remotely operated vehicles, Paravane, sea gliders and autonomous underwater vehicles.

It can be pre programmed to adhere to course, speed and depths as desired by the operator, at a remote location and carry out specific tasks utilising a bank of sensors on the UUV. The data collection can be both time and space based and is referenced with respect to coordinates of the place of operation. It can operate under most environmental conditions and because of this, they are used for accurate bathymetric survey and also for sea floor mapping prior to commencing construction of subsea structures. The Navies use them for detecting enemy submarines, mines, ISR and area monitoring purposes etc.

 The UUVs carry out their routine tasks unattended, meaning there by that once deployed the operator is relatively free to attend to other tasks as the UUV reaches its designated area of operation and starts carrying out its mission, be it survey, search, or surveillance.

Compared with many other systems, UUVs are relatively straightforward, with fewer interoperable systems and component parts, facilitating reverse-engineering of any components that might be restricted in the commercial market place. All of these factors, however also increase the likelihood that even a low tech littoral adversary could easily field offensive, autonomous UUVs, this in turn leads to seeking rapid developments in UUVs by major navies.

 UUVs are on the verge of three developments which would accelerate their induction into modern navies. First is the arming of UUVs to create Unmanned Combat Undersea Vehicles (UCUVs). This is virtually accomplished with UUV designs incorporating light weight torpedoes as weapons of choice. Heavier UUVs are contemplating missile launchers and/or heavy weight torpedoes as weapons in their kitty. However these appear to be interim measures, as a new class of weapons specific to unmanned vehicles are already under advanced development. These include much smaller and lighter missiles, torpedoes and guns firing super-cavitating ammunition.

 A second potential technology development is radically extended operational ranges for these armed UUVs. Already, the developed countries have invested in programs to create long-range underwater “sea gliders” to conduct long-range Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment (IPOE) missions[x]. While the technologies enabling the “sea glider” approach probably do not provide the flexibility and propulsion power to enable armed UUVs, such programs will significantly advance the state of UUV navigation and communications technologies. Leveraging these advancements, other nascent technologies such as Air-independent-propulsion (AIP) or Fuel Cell propulsion or perhaps Aluminium/Vortex Combustors, could provide the propulsion power necessary to effectively deploy armed UUVs even well outside of the operating area limitations of conventionally powered submarines.

 Finally, “autonomy” for these armed, long range UUVs will allow them the flexibility to conduct operations far away from the home port. Artificial intelligence (AI) based autonomous control systems are being developed at a frenetic pace, fuelled principally by demand for improved UAVs. Such developments will directly contribute to UUV autonomy, but in fact, are not actually necessary for the majority of “sea denial” missions envisioned for UCUVs. Even with current state of missile seeker technology, UCUVs would only need enough autonomy to navigate to a known area of operations (a port, choke point, or coastal location) and launch, and the missile would do the rest. For more complex missions, weapons could be guided by an on-site observer, for instance on a trawler or even ashore, in real-time or near-real-time. In short, there are a remarkably small number of “hard” technology barriers standing in the way of the long range, autonomous, armed and capable UUVs. There is little reason to think that this capability will be limited to high end, navies only. Thus networked operations of unmanned vehicles with PGMs are going to become the lethal weapon combo for the future.

 A request for information has been floated by the Indian Navy to meet its requirement for at least 10 autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). These AUVs are to be developed and productionised within four years of contract finalisation. The Navy has opted for a special category MAKE for the armed forces under the Indian Defence Procurement Procedure for high technology complex systems designed, developed and produced indigenously .Modular payload capability of the AUVs have been asked for, where in  payloads like underwater cameras for surveillance reconnaissance and high definition sonars can be mounted.

  UUVs in various configurations and roles such as communication and navigation nodes, environmental sensors in real time or lie in wait weapon carriers are going to be the choice platform in the littorals. These are expendable if required, economically viable, and offer flexibility in design as being unmanned they can have much lesser degree of safeties.


 “The Navy’s defensive MCM capabilities in deep water are considered fair today, but they are still very poor in very shallow water (VSW) – not much better in fact than they were some 50 years ago.” [xi]

Milan Vego.

 The naval mine is a relatively cheap, easy to employ, highly effective weapon that affords weaker navies the ability to oppose larger, more technologically advanced adversaries. The mere existence of mines poses enough psychological threat to practically stop maritime operations, and thus deny access to a desired area at sea. Further they can be used as barricades to deter amphibious forces and cause delays in any naval operation in the littoral. Thus, a mine doesn’t have to actually explode to achieve its mission of access denial. North Koreans were able to deter and delay arrival of U.S Marines sufficiently to escape safely, by mining Wonsan Harbour in October of 1950 with about 3000 mines.

 Mines are classified based upon their depth of operation, methods of deployment or the way they are actuated. The versatility of deployment can be gauged by the fact that mines can be laid by majority of surface craft, submarines, crafts of opportunity and aircrafts/ helicopters. Mines have been used by countries and non state actors alike with dangerous effects and thus continue to pose a credible threat to Navies as well as merchant marine.

   Types of mines are based upon the depth at which they are deployed. As per the  21ST Century U.S. Navy Mine Warfare document[xii] the underwater battle space has been divided into five depth zones of, Deep Water (deeper than 300 feet), Shallow Water (40-300 feet), Very Shallow Water (10-40 feet), the Surf Zone (from the beach to 10 feet) and the Craft Landing Zone (the actual beach). Mines are of three basic types namely, floating or drifting mines, moored or buoyant mines and bottom or ground mines.

  Drifting mines float on surface and are difficult to detect and identify because of factors like visibility, sea state and marine growth etc. Moored mines are tethered mines using anchoring cables to adjust their depths. These can be contact or influenced based mines. Bottom mines are most difficult to locate as they can also get buried under sediment layer which cannot be penetrated by normal sonars.

Mines can be actuated by contact, influence, and by remote or a combination thereof. With modular Target Detection Device (TDD) upgrade kits, the older contact mines can be easily upgraded to actuate by influence methods. The influence needed for actuation could be pressure, acoustic or magnetic or a desired combination. In addition ship counters and anti mine counter systems are also being incorporated in to the mines to make them much more potent and lethal.

Mine technology has kept a step ahead of the ships designs for low acoustic and magnetic signatures, and many countries are engaged in development and production of naval mines. Non metallic casings, anechoic coatings, modern electronics and finally reasonable costs have made mines a choice weapon for poor and rich nations alike. It is estimated that about 20 countries export mines while about 30 produce them. Sweden Russia, China and Italy are the leading exporters. Mine MN 103 Manta from SEI SpA of Italy is one of the most exported mines in the world with about 5,000 Mantas in inventories throughout the world.

 It is estimated that China has in its inventory about a hundred thousand mines of various vintages and from the WWI simple moored contact mines to modern rocket-propelled mines with advanced electronic systems for detection and signal processing. [xiii]

 The submarine torpedoes are an embodiment of a synergetic mix of engineering disciplines ranging from mechanics, hydraulics, electronics, acoustics, explosive chemistry etc. to sophisticated software and computing. Their development has therefore involved differences in propulsion designs from steam engines to electrical motors to thermal engines and rocket motors. The control and guidance systems have also evolved from simplistic mechanical/ hydraulic to sophisticated electronic and onboard computer based systems. The guidance has further diversified in to self guided and wire guided varieties. The simple straight runners have given way to active passive homers and wake homers to attack moving targets. The warheads have moved from minol based to TNT/RDX/Al and now on to insensitive explosives with a life of over 40 years. The warheads over the years have been fitted with simple contact exploders, to acoustic influence and magnetic influence proximity fuses. The diameter of the torpedoes has ranged from 324mm to 483mm to 650mm, and before settling for internationally acceptable 533mm. Interestingly with the advent of microelectronics space has never been a constraint for the torpedo and electronic/ software updates always get comfortably accommodated in the torpedo.

A major technical feature that sets apart a torpedo from a missile is the fact that a practice torpedo is recoverable for reuse; this enables excellent weapon capability assessment, crew training as well as analysis of vital firing geometry. Some of the noteworthy heavy weight torpedoes are the American Mk 48 Adcap, the Italian Blackshark, the German DM2A4 and the Russian 53-65 K oxygen torpedo.

The torpedo has been evolving with leaps in technology but some characteristics towards which the heavy weight torpedoes are headed include; faster speeds (~over 60 Kts), Quieter signature, better reliability in detection, enhanced ranges of operation (>100 Kms),smarter electronics, and increased lethality.

The cruise missile owes it origins to the German V1/V2 rockets and mainly to the fact that manned aircraft missions had proved to be very expensive during the wars (loss of trained fighter pilots as well as expensive aircraft). Unfortunately the cruise missile development until the 1970s resulted only in unreliable and inaccurate outcomes which were not acceptable to the armed forces. Cruise missiles overcame their inherent technical difficulties and owe their tremendous success and popularity to some of the technological advances in the fields of; firstly, propulsion, namely small turbofan jet engines which resulted in smaller and lighter airframes; secondly miniaturisation of electronic components, which led to much smaller on board computers thus to much better guidance and control abilities and finally,  high density fuels and much better explosives and smaller warheads.

  Cruise missiles have become weapons of choice at sea because of their ability to fly close to the sea surface at very high speeds (sub-sonic/supersonic), formidable wave point programming and lethal explosive capabilities. These make the missiles very difficult to detect and counter at sea. Some of the naval cruise missiles worth mentioning are the Brahmos, the Tomahawk, the Club and the Exocet family.

It appears that the trend towards hypersonic scramjet cruise missiles will continue to gather momentum and such missiles could be in the naval inventories by 2020. Coupled with hypersonic missiles would be real time target data updating and guidance by extremely fast computers and satellite based systems. The kinetic energy of hypersonic cruise missiles would be a lethality multiplier against targets at sea and therefore such a missile would be a formidable weapon without a credible countermeasure as on date. The costs continue to increase with new developments; however maintenance requirements appear to be reducing with canisterised missiles.

As Far as weapons are concerned the Indian Navy has a fairly reliable capability in mines, torpedoes and cruise missiles, however the numbers appear deficient for the defensive role in own littorals.

The submarines today can launch such missiles from their torpedo tubes or from vertical launchers which can also be retrofitted. In fact the submarines can launch torpedoes, missiles, UUVs and also lay mines comfortably. Thus making them, the toughest of platforms to counter.


“The marriage of air independent, nonnuclear submarines with over-the-horizon, fire and forget antiship cruise missiles and high endurance, wake homing torpedoes . . . [means that] traditional ASW approaches, employing radar flooding and speed, are not likely to be successful against this threat.”[xiv]

                                                                                    Rear Admiral Malcolm Fages

 The dimensions of submarine threat in the littorals, discussed briefly above encompass the underwater acoustic environment, the developments in submarine technology, the underwater unmanned vehicle, and the weapons. The discussion has brought out the potent danger an undetected submarine in littorals presents to the aggressor.

The Navy today faces a deficiency in an all inclusive understanding of the undersea environment in the coastal areas due to which it is difficult to counter the diesel electric submarine threat in the littorals. This deficit would not allow correct positioning and deployment of sensors for timely detection of the underwater peril. Research and development is also needed in the quality of sensors such that they are embedded with real time environmental information and can calibrate themselves accordingly for best results. As far as other environmental sensors are concerned, like those dependent on zoo plankton behaviour or bioluminescence fundamental research needs to be initiated with naval needs in focus. The acquisition of submarines and UUVs should be fast tracked if Indian Navy wants to be a credible littoral force.


[1] The speed of sound is given by the equation (available in text books):-C(T,P,S)=1449.2+4.6 T+0.055 T2+1.39 (S−35)+0.016 D(1)

Where: C is in m/sec, T in ° Celsius, D in metres and embodies density and static pressure effects. S in parts per thousand.

The speed of sound is dependent upon temperature and depth because the S, the salinity is nearly constant at 35 ppt for sea water.


 [i] G D Bakshi China – Dong Feng 21-D: A Game Changer?    ( Accessed 20 Oct 12)

[ii] VISION | PRESENCE | POWER 2004, A Program Guide to the U.S. Navy, Chapter 1 ( Accessed 17 Oct 12)

[iii] US Navy DOD document, Concept for future naval Countermeasures inlittoral power projection 1998. ( Accessed 23 Oct 12)

[iv] Robert J. Urick, Principles of Underwater Sound 3rd Edition Peninsula Pub (August 1, 1996)

[v] Lisa M. Zurk, Nigel Lee and Brian Tracey, “Robust Adaptive Processing in Littoral Regions with Environmental Uncertainty” in Impact of Littoral Environmental Variability of Acoustic Predictions and Sonar Performance, ed. Nicholas Pace and Finn Jensen [Bruxelles, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishing, 2002], 515. ( Accessed 30 Oct 12)

 [vi]  Warren L.J. Fox et al. “Environmental Adaptive Sonar Control in a Tactical Setting.” in Impact of Littoral Environmental Variability of Acoustic Predictions and  Sonar Performance, ed. Nicholas Pace and Finn Jensen [Bruxelles, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishing, 2002], 595

 [vii] Ibid.

 [viii] Benedict, Richard R. “The Unravelling and Revitalization of U.S. Navy Antisubmarine Warfare.” Naval War College Review 58, no.2, (Spring 2005), ( Accessed 27 Oct 12)

  [ix]  Rajat Pandit, Pak adding submarine muscle as India dithers, The Times of India Apr 11, 2011.

 [x] K. L. Mahoney and N. D. Allen Glider Observations of Optical Backscatter in Different Jerlov Water Types: Implications to US Naval Operations, Research paper, 2009. Naval Oceanographic Office, Stennis Space Center, MS 39522 USA

 [xi] Milan Vego. “Future MCM Systems: Organic of Dedicated, Manned or Unmanned,” Naval Forces 26, no.4,(2005).

[xii]  21ST Century U.S. Navy Mine Warfare,

[xiii]  Scott C. Truver. TAKING MINES SERIOUSLY Mine Warfare in China’s Near Seas, Naval War College Review, Spring 2012, Vol. 65, No. 2

 [xiv] Malcolm I. Fages, Rear Adm., USN; remarks at Naval Submarine League Symposium, June 2000, as published in Submarine Review (October 2000), p. 34.


The Naval Gun Continues to Reign!


(Published SP’s Naval Forces Aug-Sept 2015)

A naval warship is a platform that is meant to last at least 25 years and have flexibility to upgrade its systems with changes in technology during this period. It would therefore be worthwhile to look at some of the formidable modern warships and their armament packages to get a perspective in to trends in the coming decades. Starting with the US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) the second LCS, Coronado has been designed for littoral warfare and is being equipped to tackle anti-submarine warfare, mine warfare and anti surface warfare. It is being outfitted with reconfigurable payloads called ‘mission packages’. The Coronado is being constructed by M/s Austal USA, in Alabama, USA. Apart from the mission modules, it carries Evolved SeaRAM (Raytheon) 11-cell missile launcher, 4 × .50-cal guns (2 aft, 2 forward) and 57 mm gun (Mk 110, of BAE Systems). The US Navy’s Zumwalt class guided missile destroyers have been designed as land attack, multi mission ships. These ships boast of an integrated power system, which can power rail gun or free electron laser guns of the future. The main armament consists of, 20 × MK 57 VLS modules (Raytheon) with a total of 80 launch cells, Tactical Tomahawk(Raytheon/ McDonnell Douglas) 1 per cell,RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM-Raytheon) 4 per cell, Vertical Launch Anti-Submarine Rocket (ASROC- Lockheed Martin) 1 per cell, 2 × 155 mm/62 caliber Advanced Gun System (BAE), 920 × 155 mm rounds, 70–100 LRLAP rounds(Lockheed Martin), 2 × 30 mm Mk 46 Mod 2 Gun Weapon System (General Dynamics).

The Russian Navy’s Steregushchy class multipurpose corvettes are meant for littoral combat missions including those of anti submarine warfare, anti surface warfare and naval gunfire support. The armament package includes, 2 x 4 Uran Kh-35 (SS-N-25), 12 x Redut VLS cells, 1 x Kashtan CIWS-M, 2 x 4 330mm torpedo tubes for Paket-NK anti-torpedo/anti-submarine torpedoes, 2 × 14.5mm MTPU pedestal machine guns, 2 x AK-630М CIWS, and 1 x 100mm A-190 Arsenal or 130mm A-192 naval gun. The PLAN’s type 052D guided missile destroyer (Kunming class) is under construction at
Changxingdao-Jiangnan Shipyard (JNCX). The main armament consists of YJ-18 or YJ-83 anti-ship missiles, CJ-10 LACM, CY-5 series ASW missiles, 64 VLS, HHQ-9 series long range SAM, DK-10A medium range SAM, 1 x HHQ-10 short range SAM in 24-cell launcher, 6 torpedo tubes, 1 x H/PJ-12 CIWS, 2 x 30 mm remote controlled guns, and 1 x H/PJ-38 130mm dual purpose gun.

The Swedish Visby class corvettes have been designed by Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) and built by Kockums AB. They carry, 4 × 400 mm torpedo launchers for Type 45 (Saab) torpedoes, 8 × RBS15 Mk2 (Saab Bofors) AshM, and 1 × Bofors 57 mm Mk3. The Indian Navy’s project 15 B, Visakhapatnam class stealth guided missile destroyers, would carry, 4 × 8-cell VLS for a total of 32 Barak 8missiles, 2 × 8-cell Universal Vertical Launcher Module (UVLM) for 16 BrahMos anti-ship and land-attack missiles, 4 × 533 mm Torpedo tubes, 2 × RBU-6000 anti-submarine rocket launchers, 4 × AK-630 CIWS, 1 × 127 mm gun Oto Melara SRGM (likely).

Lastly, the Global Combat ship of the Royal Navy has been designed for 13000 km range at 15 knots with an endurance of 60 days. Its versatile design caters for anti piracy, anti terror, maritime security, and HADR missions. Its armament includes; 3 × 8-cell strike-length Mk 41 VLS (Martin Marietta/ Lockheed Martin) suitable for Tomahawk, ASROC and LRASM; 8 × 6-cell CAMM VLS (MBDA) canisters for a total of 48 CAMM (MBDA) missiles; Sting Ray torpedo system(GEC Marconi-likely); 2 × Phalanx (General Dynamics) CIWS; 2 × 30mm DS30M Mk2 (MSI Defence Systems) guns; 2 × Miniguns; 4 × General purpose machine guns; and 1 × BAE 5 inch Mk 45 naval gun.

The Naval Gun

The most striking thing about the armament packages of the formidable warships mentioned above is the fact that the Naval Gun continues to form an integral part of the firepower of these warships.

The Swedish Bofors 57 mm MK 3 gun is a dual-purpose naval gun designed and produced by AB Bofors. It has a rate of fire of 220 rounds per minute with a 40-round magazine within the turret. It features a new lightweight gun turret and a new gun barrel of   monobloc steel with a new servomechanism. This makes the gun respond rapidly and engage sea-skimming missiles with faster rate of firing. The Ammunition for the Bofors 57 mm gun is produced by Bofors, Sako Limited in Finland, and Nammo in Norway. BAE Systems AB also offers the Bofors 57 mm 3P all-target programmable ammunition, this allows three proximity fusing modes as well as settings for time, impact, and armor piercing functions. It has the flexibility to choose ammunition mode at the time of firing. Further, it has the ability to engage ground, air, and surface targets. This year BAE has announced a new round the Mk 295 Mod 1 Ordnance for Rapid Kill of Attack Craft (ORKA) with single shot kills of air and surface targets.

The Russian AK-130 is a twin-barreled gun with a rate of fire of 20-86 rounds per minute and a range of over 20 km. PLAN’s  H/PJ38 is a single barrel 130 mm gun. It is copied from the Soviet AK-130 and is considered more reliable and powerful than the original. The Chinese carried out the crucial improvement of adapting the gun to fire both separate and semi-fixed rounds. China has also developed a variety of sub-caliber rounds for the H/P J38.

The BAE Systems AGS & MK45 Mod 4 127/62, the Oto Melara 127/64 gun & the 76mm Super Rapido continue to be the most advanced guns today.

BAE’s Advanced Gun System, AGS, is designed for delivering precision munitions at a high rate of fire and at over-the-horizon ranges. It includes an automated magazine, the ammunition uses a separate propellant canister for both conventional and guided munitions. Projectiles include ballistic projectiles as well as guided land & surface attack munitions using course correcting fuses (CCF). The rate of fire of Long Range Land Attack Projectiles, LRLAP is 10 rounds per minute.

BAE Systems Mk 45 Mod 4 is 5-inch (127-mm) 62-caliber gun mount used in the U.S. Navy . The enhanced gun system has significantly improved capabilities for Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS), as well as overall gunfire mission performance. Upgrades have been carried out, which enable Mk 45 to handle and fire high-energy munitions. It also optimizes performance of new and existing ammunition types. As per BAE, firepower flexibility of the Mk 45 Mod 4 naval gun system is achieved with the combination of several features such as, Multi-mission ammunition inventory, mixed ammunition load capacity, Remote round-to-round selectivity, and  advanced fire control adaptability.

The Oto Melara 127/64 Lightweight Vulcano constitutes;  the large caliber 127/64 LW Gun assembly,  the Automated Ammunition Handling System, the Naval Fire Control Support, and  the VULCANO  family  of ammunition. It is a medium caliber naval gun meant for surface fire and naval gunfire support as its main role and anti-aircraft fire as its secondary role. The compactness of the gun feeding system makes it possible to install it on medium size warships also.  It has a modular automatic feeding magazine with four rotating drums, each holding 14 ready-to-fire rounds. It is thus able to fire 30/35 rounds per minute. The Fire Control System calculates the ballistic trajectories, programs the fuses and, it updates GPS data when the GPS-guided VULCANO rounds are fired.

Status of Ammunition Development

In addition to the standard round the 127 mm Oto Melara can fire the VULCANO, which is a steerable sub-munition with tail fins and canards. The VULCANO range comprises of; the BER (Ballistic Extended Range) with a range of 70 km;         GPS / Inertial Navigation System;   GPS / INS / Infra-red Imaging; and GPS / INS / Semi Active Laser (SAL).

The GPS/INS ammunition is used against fixed targets, with high accuracy. In case of the GPS/INS/SAL round, Diehl provides the miniaturized, shock-resistant Semi-Active Laser seeker and Oto Melara supplies the projectile. The SAL guides the shell to engage small, fixed, moving, and re-locatable targets with very high accuracy. The addition of a SAL seeker to the GPS and inertial navigation guidance makes this variant of the round extremely accurate. With external laser designation of the target, it can even engage moving targets with high accuracy. The IIR seeker is used for anti-ship role. The built-in IIR seeker scans the surface of the sea to detect and track the heat signature of the enemy vessel a few miles before entering the target zone. On acquiring the target, it can maneuver to counter evasive measures if any. The 4AP (4 Action Plus) fuse of the Vulcano is a microwave fuse, which can detonate on impact, time, airburst, or proximity. The development of the BER variant has been completed. The guided variants, are more or less in their final leg  of the development phase.

BAE’s Standard Guided Projectile – Multi Service is a 127mm shell with GPS/INS guidance, propelled by a rocket booster. It has an in flight retargeting feature which is enabled by GPS feed to the shell. This enables it to engage even small moving targets. It has a range of up to 100 km with a CEP better than 10 m. It has a 16.3 kg warhead.

Oto Melara’s ‘Strales’ for its 76.2 Super Rapido Gun is a guidance kit, having a radio frequency beam antenna for use when firing the DART (Driven Ammunition Reduced Time of flight). It is a guided, sabot-discarding high speed round meant to engage airplanes, missiles and fast attack crafts. The DART comprises of a 2.5 Kg pre fragmentation tungsten cube warhead located in the rear, whereas the front portion is free to rotate with two canard wings. The tail has backward looking radio receivers and six fixed wings for line of sight guidance. It has the 3A PLUS programmable fuse. The DART can fly 5 km in 5 seconds. The development of STRALES kit has already been completed and it has been installed on the Italian aircraft carrier Cavour. Oto Melara has also developed  the Stealth gun shield, made of carbon fiber, with foldable gun barrel and sliding cover. It would be fitted on the new FALAJ-class corvettes of the UAE.

Ongoing Research

Composite Gun Barrel.       Texas Research Institute Austin, Inc. is researching in to the requirements of US Navy for a low-cost, lightweight, composite outer wrapped rifled barrel design suitable for firing high-energy projectiles from the Zumwalt destroyer advanced gun system. The rapid firing of high-energy projectiles using high-temperature propellants causes high dynamic barrel pressurization loads, rapid heating of the barrel, and increased fatigue & wear on the barrel bore. The US Navy requires a composite outer wrapped actively water-cooled barrel design using high-performance composite materials to provide a gun barrel with superior dynamic strength, fatigue, wear, and heat dissipation characteristics. Texas Research Institute Austin, Inc., is developing a polymer composite filament-wound outer wrapped gun barrel design that will meet requirements of the advanced gun system. Use will be made of developments of lightweight, high-temperature, fatigue-resistant, filament-wound composite applications in the offshore oil and gas, marine, automotive, and aircraft industries.

Development of Materials and Processes That Eliminate Large Gun Barrel Wear & Erosion from Advanced Propellants & Projectiles.        Materials & Electrochemical Research, Tuson, have  demonstrated that molybdenum-rhenium (Mo-Re) alloys exhibited negligible erosion and wear in terms of weight loss, as compared to chromium plated gun steel. Research is now being carried out to optimize the Mo-Re ratio versus vented bomb erosion and wear, followed by mechanical property characterization including fatigue life.


It is apparent that the shipbuilders and war planners have decided that no warship should be without the Naval Gun ! This is due to the compelling reasons that; guns can engage various targets like air, surface, land and FAC; they act as a contingency to missile systems; guns have short reaction time, and can engage selected land targets; they practically operate in most weather conditions; they have a sustained bearing on targets, they are not prone to jamming; and  they can engage a number of low flying missiles due to absence of dead zones.

Further the reason for the naval gun to remain relevant in the modern warships despite the missiles lies in the advent of long-range precision guided ammunition. Micro-miniaturization of guidance electronics and developments in gun propellants, has ensured very high accuracy of rounds at extended ranges and at costs, which were unthinkable a decade ago. The development of the precision guided ammunition implies that targets can be selectively engaged with great accuracy, maneuvering targets can be attacked, quick reaction times are available, and costs of engagement can be substantially reduced. Thus for the next two decades it appears that the naval gun would continue to be a major component of a warship’s outfit.

52.India’s Bridges of Friendship in the Indian Ocean Region

(Published in World news report and Tazakhabarnews, 21 May 2015)

Two incidents in the recent past reflect the benevolent relationships India shares with countries in the Indian Ocean Region. First was supply of fresh water to Maldives through INS Deepak and INS Sukanya when the Maldivian desalination plant caught fire and the Maldives faced an unprecedented fresh water crisis. The second was evacuation of Indian and foreign citizens form Yemen involving Indian Navy, Indian Air Force, Air India, and passenger liners.

India has placed considerable emphasis on developing a security presence in the northeast Indian Ocean. There are several dimensions to this: first, India’s direct security presence in the Andaman Sea, second, its bilateral security relationships in the region and third, its aspirations to gain a security role in the Malacca Strait. While India aspires to play a significant security role in Southeast Asia it has given particular focus to the Malacca Strait, the key maritime choke point between the Indian and Pacific Ocean. India’s Andaman  and Nicobar islands, which run north-south through the Andaman Sea form a natural base for projecting power into the Strait and beyond into the South China Sea.

India has deep links with Singapore, which now acts as India’s primary economic, political and security partner in Southeast Asia. Singapore sees India as having an important security role in the region, acting as a balance to other extra-regional powers, including China, the United States, and Japan. India and Singapore conduct extensive security cooperation, including broad-based security dialogues, joint exercises, intelligence sharing, and cooperation in defense technology. At the invitation of the United States, India took a security role inside the Malacca Strait through the provision of naval escorts for high value commercial traffic, as part of the U.S. led Operation Enduring Freedom.

India has also been developing its security relationship with Indonesia; a Defence Cooperation Agreement was signed in 2001. There are biannual “coordinated” naval patrols; between the Indian and Indonesian navies in the Six-Degree Channel at the northern entrance to the Malacca Strait; to keep extremist groups from using these routes. These patrols comprise Indian and Indonesian vessels and aircraft, coordinated out of India’s Joint Operations Command in the Andaman Islands.

In November 2009, Australia and India concluded a joint security declaration, providing a framework for increased cooperation, security issues such as maritime policing (piracy and maritime terrorism, illegal fishing, people trafficking etc), disaster management, and anti-terrorism and there seem good prospects for closer security relations in coming years.

India-Malaysia defense relations have steadily grown over the years. A MOU on Defence Cooperation was signed in 1993. Malaysia-Indian Defence Cooperation meetings at the level of Defence Secretary from Indian side and Secretary General from Malaysian side are held regularly; Malaysia participates in the biennial MILAN event regularly. Indian navy and coast guard vessels make regular friendly port calls each year at Malaysian ports.

Thailand, and India have agreed to continue strengthening defence relations including exercises and joint patrolling.

Vietnam has also welcomed Indian Navy ships in their region, which would enhance India and Vietnam military relations. Vietnam has also sought Indian support for a peaceful resolution of the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

India and Japan also have close military ties. They have shared interests in maintaining the security of sea-lanes in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean, and in co-operation for fighting international crime, terrorism, piracy, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The two nations have frequently held joint military exercises and co-operate on technology. India and Japan concluded a security pact on 22 October 2008.

In June 2012, India, a major importer of arms and military hardware purchased eight warships from South Korea.

The first Republic of the Philippines–India Security Dialogue was held in Manila on 12 March 2004. The Philippines and India agreed to establish a security dialogue that would serve as a policy forum for sharing security assessments and for reviewing and giving direction to co-operation in bilateral/regional security and defence matters.

In August 2009, a security agreement was formalised with Maldives that will significantly enhance India’s capabilities in the central Indian Ocean. India has been granted use of the former British naval and air base on Gan Island, part of the southernmost group of islands in the Maldives. (Lying around 1,000 km south of India and around 700 km north of Diego Garcia). As part of the agreement, India is also building a system of 26 electronic monitoring facilities across the Maldives archipelago.

India has cordial relations with Iran due to India being a major importer of Iranian oil and the fact that  it is now actively engaged in developing container terminals at Chahbahar port. Since 2003, India has entered into several defence agreements with Oman dealing with training, maritime security cooperation and joint exercises. The Indian Air Force uses the Thumrait air base for transit purposes and Oman has offered the Indian Navy berthing facilities in support of anti-piracy patrols. In 2008 India also entered into a security agreement with Qatar which, according to some reports, includes Indian security guarantees. The agreement, deals among other things with maritime security and intelligence sharing. India has a cordial relationship with Yemen since diplomatic ties were established in 1967.

The south western Indian Ocean forms the gateway between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. India’s security relationships in the region are anchored by its close relationship with Mauritius, the island territory that lies around 900km to the east of Madagascar. India has long-standing and close political, economic and security associations with Mauritius. Since 2003, the Indian Navy has also provided maritime security through periodic patrols of Mauritian waters including anti-piracy patrols in 2010.

The Indian Navy has assisted Seychelles with maritime security in the EEZ under a 2003 defence cooperation agreement under which it provided anti-piracy patrols in early 2010. In July 2007 the Indian Navy opened an electronic monitoring facility in northern Madagascar at the head of the Mozambique Channel and reportedly has also been granted “limited” berthing rights in Madagascar for Indian naval vessels. The Indian Navy has also acted as a maritime security provider for Mozambique, in 2006, India and Mozambique entered a defence cooperation agreement that envisages joint maritime patrols, supply of military equipment, training, and technology transfer in repairing and assembling military vehicles, aircraft and ships.

India’s maritime security relationships in the southwestern Indian Ocean are also buttressed by growing maritime security relations with France and South Africa. Since 2001, the Indian Navy has conducted annual exercises with the French navy, which operates out of Reunion and Djibouti. India also has a growing presence in Antarctica, with three active research stations.

From the above it can be visualized that India has built a reasonable number of bridges of friendship in the Indian Ocean Region which have helped in enhancing its image as a benign friend in need.

51. French Influence in the Indian Ocean Region – A Perspective

(Published in IndraStra Global – Strategic Information & Intelligence Forecasting, 20 May 2015)

France has continued to cultivate and nurture its influence in the Indian Ocean Region through its geographical presence, naval ties and interdependencies developed through military equipment sales.

France has its out posts at Mayotte & La Reunion and military bases in Djibouti and Abu Dhabi. The Mayotte archipelago consists of two major islands and a number of small islets between NE Mozambique and NW Madagascar in the Mozambique Channel. Though geographically it is a part of the Comoro Islands, its people preferred accession to France in 2009. The Foreign Legion detachment in Mayotte has strength of 270 personal and can act as a rapid reaction force. This contingent exercises mainly with Madagascar armed forces, adds to security and maritime surveillance of the Mozambique Channel and can be used for humanitarian assistance tasks in the area. Mayotte has an EEZ of 63,078 sq kms. Reunion (La Reunion) is an island ~120 kms SW of Mauritius and East of Madagascar. Reunion provides a convenient access to sea lines of communications (SLOCS) in eastern and southern coast of Africa. France maintains a small naval presence at Reunion islands through its naval base at Point des Galets, which has a frigate, a support ship and some patrol craft. Reunion has an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 31, 5058 sq kms.

Republic of Djibouti is strategically located in the horn of Africa, with Gulf of Aden and Red Sea as its eastern borders. It shares its borders with Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea. Djibouti’s location offers a controlling position over the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Its Camp Lemonnier military base (ex France) has been leased to USA and is being upgraded by an investment of $1.4 billion to house over 1000 US Special Forces. France, under a defence treaty, pays €30 million/year for keeping up to 3000 troops under the Forces Françaises de Djibouti. France has also stationed marine, air force and army units at Djibouti with fighter aircrafts at Ambouli airport. Djibouti provides a military access to SLOCS between Red Sea and Indian Ocean, which carry the bulk of French energy supplies. Interestingly, since 2012, China too has got a foothold in Djibouti, as its China Harbour Engineering Company is executing a $64 million project of constructing an ore terminal for export of salt to SE Asia.

In 2009, France signed an agreement with Emirates to operate a military base at Abu Dhabi. The naval base is at port Mina Zayed and can berth French naval ships except aircraft carriers. The air force base is at Al Dhafra which can house fighter aircraft. The Army base (Urban Combat Training and intelligence) is at Zayed and the famous 13th Démi-Brigade de la Légion Étrangère has been relocated to this base from Djibouti, without diluting the French military presence at Djibouti. Abu Dhabi is located near the junction of Straits of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. This base provides France access to the SLOCS in Persian Gulf and ensures safety of its oil supplies.

In 2011 France has signed an agreement with Kenya for cooperation in the fields of international security, economic partnership, and scientific collaboration amongst others. France has also gifted a patrol boat for helping Kenya in its fight against sea piracy. France has nurtured its relationship with South Africa with which it holds regular military exercises. Both countries are looking for greater cooperation in ensuring maritime security in association with other countries. France, Mozambique and South Africa carried out ‘Operation Oxide’ an anti-piracy naval exercise in 2011.

In addition to the above, the French presence also comprises of its Territory of the French Southern and Antarctica Lands , which have Scattered Islands (around Madagascar),Crozet Islands (South of Madagascar), and the St. Paul, Amsterdam and the Kerguelen Islands in southern Indian Ocean. Further, south, it has its claims in the Antarctica.  The Combined EEZ of all the French territories in the Indian Ocean amounts to nearly 1 million sq kms! The claimed EEZ in the Antarctica region is about 1.7 million sq kms.

Thus it can be seen that France has a significant strategic presence from Emirates in the Persian Gulf, Djibouti in the Gulf of Aden, off Madagascar and down to the Kerguelen islands in the Southern Indian Ocean Region. Further, it has ensured that its national interests in its energy supply lines and the extensive EEZ are carefully monitored and guarded.

The French sphere of influence in the Indian Ocean region has been shaped by a combination of its own energy and EEZ security requirements as well as by forging long-term relationships with countries through supply of military equipment. Its major competitor today is the United States, with which it has friendly relations. However, with China ramping up its own influence in the region by providing lucrative arms deals, affordable infrastructure and a rapidly growing PLA Navy, France would face a serious contender since it is unlikely that it would be able to match the attractive financial packages offered China in the IOR.

48.Airborne Anti Submarine Warfare

(Published SP’s Special Supplement to Aero Inida 2015;19 Feb-21 Feb 2015)

Standoff antisubmarine capabilities continue to be of vital interest to the Navies across the world. The current environment of littoral warfare has once again brought in to sharp focus the threat of the lurking diesel submarine and the means of tackling it by the use of helicopters and aircraft. Some of the noteworthy anti submarine warfare platforms are discussed in brief in the succeeding paragraphs.

The Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone is a twin-engine, multi-role shipboard helicopter being developed by the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation. CH-148 is designed for shipboard operations and is intended to replace the CH-124 Sea King. It has a metal and composite airframe. A number of safety features such as flaw tolerance, bird strike capability, and engine burst containment have been incorporated into the design. It  is equipped to search and locate submarines during ASW. The Integrated Mission System and the Sonobuoy Acoustic Processing System are being developed by General Dynamics Canada. The sonar is an L-3 HELRAS, the radar is a Telephonics APS-143B, the Electro Optic System a Flir Systems SAFIRE III, and the ESM a Lockheed Martin AN/ALQ-210. CMC Electronics provides the flight management system CMA-2082MH Aircraft Management System. It carries 2 x MK-46 torpedoes on a bomb rack BRU-14 mounted in folding weapons pylons and a door-arm mounted general-purpose machine gun.


The Agusta Westland AW101 is a medium-lift helicopter used in both military and civil applications. It has a digital automatic flight control system (AFCS) manufactured by Smiths Aerospace. This allows the operation of a four-axis (pitch, roll, yaw, and collective) autopilot and the automatic stabilization system, and is linked in with the aircraft’s flight management systems. The AFCS is a dual-duplex system using two flight computers to provide redundancy and fault-tolerance.

The AW101’s navigation system includes a GPS receiver and inertial navigation system, VHF Omni directional radio range (VOR), instrument landing system (ILS), Tactical air navigation system TACAN, and automatic direction finding. The Mk1 and Mk3 are equipped with a Doppler velocity system (DVS) which provides relative ground velocities; the DVS is also linked into the AFCS as part of the auto stabilization system. For safety, the aircraft is equipped with obstacle and terrain avoidance warning systems and traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS).

The AW101 is equipped with the Blue Kestrel search and detection radar, which is capable of 360 degree scanning and can detect small targets as far as 25 nautical miles. Royal Navy Merlins are equipped with the AQS901 anti-submarine system for processing sonographic data from sonobuoys to detect and target submerged submarines. Most variants of the AW101 are equipped with self-defense systems such as chaff and flare dispensers, directed infrared countermeasures (infrared jammers), ESM (electronic support measures in the form of RF heads), and a laser detection and warning system. Two hard points are present on the underside of the airframe on which it can carry four Sting Ray torpedoes or Mk 11 Mod 3 depth charges.


The Airbus/Agusta Westland produced NH90 is designed to fulfill a NATO staff requirement for a multi-role, medium-sized military helicopter for both land and maritime operations. NH90 is the first helicopter in the world to be equipped with full fly-by-wire flight controls. NH90 is either fitted with Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322 or General Electric T700E power plants.

The NH90 features a range of customizable avionics systems, dependent on customer selection and purpose. On some models, Thales Group provides various parts of the avionics, such as the glass cockpit, full-color multifunction displays, tactical mission and encrypted communication systems, the TopOwel helmet-mounted sight/display, IFF, and navigation systems, and the electrical power generation system. The naval NFH variant is outfitted with dipping sonar and sonobuoy processing equipment.

The Boeing P-8 Poseidon is a military aircraft developed for the United States Navy by Boeing Defense, Space & Security. The P-8 conducts anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and shipping interdiction, along with electronic signals intelligence (ELINT) role. The P8 can carry torpedoes, depth charges, SLAM-ER missiles, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and other weapons. It is able to drop and monitor sonobuoys. It is designed to operate in conjunction with the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle.

ASW Armament

The ASW armament carried today by maritime aircraft and helicopters includes lightweight torpedoes, depth charges, and bombs.

Air Dropped Depth Charges and Bombs. Depth charges have again come into focus because of the ASW threat in littorals. These can be very effectively utilized for flushing out the lurking diesel submarines. Two depth charges are worthy of mention, these are the MK11 depth charge of UK and the BDC 204 depth charge of Sweden.

The Mk 11 depth charge was developed by British Aerospace (now BAE Systems) for air delivery from maritime aircraft and helicopters. The Mk 11 depth charge was designed for shallow water operations against submarines on the surface or at periscope depths. It is fully compatible for carriage and release from a wide range of ASW helicopters and fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft. The Mod 3 version incorporates a 4 mm mild steel outer case and nose section, which is designed to withstand entry into the water at high velocities without distortion. It has been cleared for carriage on Lynx, Merlin, NH90, Sea King, and Wasp helicopters.


The BDC 204 depth charge was developed by Bofors Underwater Systems (now Saab Dynamics) for air delivery from maritime aircraft and helicopters of the Swedish Navy. The depth charge can be deployed in patterns, with different depth charges set to detonate at different depths to achieve profound shock and damage to submarines. They have been cleared for carriage on the Boeing Vertol 107 helicopter and CASA C-212 Aviocar maritime patrol aircraft.

Air Launched Torpedoes. Few of the prominent air launched torpedoes are described below.

Stingray is a LWT manufactured by BAE Systems. It has a diameter of 324mm, weight of 267kg, and length of 2.6m. Its speed is 45kts with a range of 8km and its warhead is 45kg of Torpex. It can dive up to 800m.Stingray is fed with target data and other associated information prior to its launch, after entering water it searches for target autonomously in active mode and on acquiring the same, attacks it. It is carried by Nimrod aircraft. Stingray Mod1 is reported to have a shaped charge warhead and improved shallow water performance.

Mk46 Mod5 torpedo is the mainstay of US Navy’s air launched lightweight torpedoes. It is manufactured by Alliant Tech systems. It has a diameter of 324mm, length of 2.59m, with a weight of 231kg.It runs on Otto fuel, has a range of 11km with a speed of 40kts, and can dive upto365m. It has a PBXN-103 warhead of 44kg. It has an advanced digital computer control system with a built in logic and tactics for search and re-attack. It has effectively performed in both deep and shallow waters and can attack both the nuclear as well as the smaller diesel submarine. Over 25000 MK46 torpedoes have been supplied to customers until date. Interestingly the Chinese YU-7 torpedo is said to have been developed from the MK46 Mod2.

The Mk 54 Lightweight Torpedo is a hybrid of technologies taken from MK 46, MK48 and MK50 torpedoes. It is supposed to have homing and warhead of the MK50 and propulsion package of the MK46 torpedo. It has incorporated COTS processing technologies for an advanced guidance and control system. It is stated to have sophisticated shallow water capabilities for littoral threats. The MK54 torpedo has been finalized for P8i aircraft by India.

The A244/S developed by WAAS and currently manufactured by the Euro Torp consortium is a 324mm diameter, 2.8m long, and 244kg weight torpedo. It has a cruise/surge speed of 30/39kts, with a range of 6km and depth up to 600m. Its Homing head can function in mixed, active, or passive modes. It has special signal processing to distinguish target from decoys.

A244/S Mod.3 is the latest upgrade of the A244/S. It has more powerful propulsion battery, with an increased number of cells, which ensures a 50% increase in the endurance of the weapon to13.5 km. It has an Advanced Digital Signal Processor module to counter sophisticated torpedo countermeasures .The homing head has preformed multiple transmission and reception beams and multi-frequency operating capability. It can classify and track several targets simultaneously, and discriminate between the target and countermeasures.


 MU90/Impact is in mass production for 6 major NATO and Allied Countries. The MU90/IMPACT torpedo is 323.7mm ‘NATO Standard’ caliber, 2.85 mm long with a weight of 304 kg. It is powered by an Aluminum-Silver Oxide seawater battery using dissolved sodium-dioxide powder as electrolyte with a closed-loop electrolyte re-circulation system, the torpedo is propelled by an electronically controlled high-RPM brush-less motor driving a skewed multi-blade pump jet propulsor allowing a continuously variable torpedo speed automatically selected by in built logic of the torpedo. The control and guidance electronics has embedded operational and tactical software including the signal processing, the data processing, and the torpedo guidance algorithms, which enable the MU90 to continuously self-adapt its configuration and tactics. The inertial system is based on ‘strap-down’ technology enabling all-attitudes capability including bottom following capability. The warhead consists of V350 explosive, fully insensitive, shaped charge warhead, with an impact type exploder incorporating two mechanical and six electrical independent safety devices.

 Low Cost Anti Submarine Weapon (CLAW) A200/A is a miniature torpedo developed by WASS. LCAW has been developed as an intermediary between air launched torpedoes and conventional depth charges. It is a low cost option, which provides propulsion and guidance to a depth charge without the costs of a torpedo. The air dropped version A200/A is deployed from aerial sonar buoy dispensers. The weapon is primarily designed to engage targets in shallow water, like midget submarines. The A200/A version has a length of 914.4mm, weight of 12kg, and a diameter of 123.8 mm. The warhead is a 2.5kg PBX shaped charge and the LCAW has an operating depth from 15m to300m. It has a speed of about 18kts with a range of 2km.

Indian Navy

The Indian Navy has ordered 8 in number of the P-8I Neptune version of the Boeing P-8 Poseidon. The aircraft includes six additional body fuel tanks for extended range from Marshall Aerospace; three of the tanks are located in the forward cargo compartment and three in the rear. In-flight refueling is via a receptacle on top of the forward fuselage, just aft of the cockpit. In order to power the additional electronics, the P-8 has an 180kVA electric generator. The P-8 uses data fusion software to combine its various sensors for target tracking.

The Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) Data Link II communications allows the P-8I to exchange tactical data between Indian Navy aircraft, ships, and shore establishments. The P-8I features an integrated BEL-developed IFF system. India has purchased AGM-84L Harpoon Block II Missiles and Mk 54 All-Up-Round Lightweight Torpedoes for the P-8I. The Indian Navy inducted its first P-8I on 15 May 2013. The second and third P-8Is were received on 16 and 22 November 2013 respectively. In 2014, several Indian Navy P-8Is conducted search operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The aircraft carries Raytheon APY-10 multi-mission surface search radar and is likely to have Advanced Airborne Sensor surface search radar and SIGINT package in the follow on program. It has 5 internal and 6 external stations for AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER, AGM-84 Harpoon, Mark 54 torpedo, missiles, mines, torpedoes, bombs, and a High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon system.

India’s Navy has selected Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX), to fulfill the  Multi-Role Helicopter requirement for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare (ASW/ASuW). Negotiations will now commence to procure 16 S-70B SEAHAWK helicopters, with an option for eight additional aircraft, along with a complete logistics support and training program. The Indian Navy S-70B variant will include avionics and flexible open architecture Weapons Management Systems that integrate advanced sonar, 360-degree search radar, modern air-to-surface missiles, and torpedoes for the ASW role. A blade and tail fold capability will facilitate shipboard storage.

Indian Navy has a requirement for 120 Helicopters (NMRH) in the 9-12.5 tons category. The NMRH is envisaged to carry out the ASW as well as the ASuW roles. Indian Navy is also interested in procuring 56 light utility helicopters for ASW and other support roles in the 4.5-ton class. In addition, there is a need to build an Indian Multirole Helicopter domestically in collaboration with HAL in the 12-ton class