Category Archives: Strategy

Hybrid warfare-The Naval Dimension

(Published IndraStra Global 01 Jan 2017,

 It is so damn complex. If you ever think you have the solution to this, you’re wrong, and you’re dangerous. You have to keep listening and thinking and being critical and self-critical.

Colonel H.R. McMaster, 2006

In his monograph, Strategic Implications of Hybrid War: A Theory of Victory[1],Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Lasica posits that hybrid force actors attempt to combine internal tactical success and information effects regarding enemy mistakes through the deliberate exploitation of the cognitive and moral domains. In this manner, he describes hybrid warfare simultaneously as a strategy and a tactic because of the blending of conventional, unconventional, criminal, cyber and terrorist means & methods. A hybrid force is thus able to compress the levels of war and thereby accelerate tempo at both the strategic and tactical levels in a method faster than a more conventional actor is able to do. In this theoretical model, the hybrid actor will always gain a perceived strategic advantage over the conventional actor regardless of tactical results. David Sadowski and Jeff Becker, in their article “Beyond the “Hybrid Threat: Asserting the Essential Unity of Warfare,[2]” assert, that the idea of simply seeing hybrid warfare as a combination of threat categories or capabilities fails to appreciate the complexity of the hybrid approach to warfare. Rather, they argue that the essential aspect of hybrid warfare is the underlying unity of cognitive and material approaches in generating effects. Such a unity of cognitive and material domains allows for flexibility in a strategic context in which social “rules” can be redefined in an iterative process to the hybrid’s advantage in terms of legality and military norms.

Majors Mculloh and  Johnson in their monograph ‘Hybrid warfare’[3] have said that hybrid war may be best summarized as a form of warfare in which one of the combatants bases its optimized force structure on the combination of all available resources—both conventional and unconventional—in a unique cultural context to produce specific, synergistic effects against a conventionally-based opponent.

 Don’t ever forget what you’re built to do. We are built to solve military problems with violence.

– A Former Brigade Commander in Op Iraqi Freedom

Therefore, it will not be wrong to say that Hybrid warfare in naval context is a violent conflict utilizing a complex and adaptive organization of regular and irregular forces, means, and behavior across a predominantly maritime domain among others to achieve a synergistic effect, which seeks to exhaust a superior military force.

Alternatively, put simply, it is naval irregular warfare plus cyber war and any other component that emerges in future. CIA has succinctly brought out the contrasting dimensions of Modern versus Irregular warfare in the following table:

Contrasting Dimensions of War[4]
Modern Irregular
Organized Informal
Advanced technology At-hand technology
Logistics-dependent Logistics-independent
National direction Local direction
Coherent doctrine Ad hoc doctrine
Decisive battle Raids and skirmishes
Soldier Warrior
Allies Accomplices
Segregation Integration

Littoral areas and cities in vicinity of the coast could be important sites of future conflict, and both have characteristics that make them more complex than the high seas, and hinterland. Adversaries will increasingly exploit these complex environments to degrade technological advantages of regular forces. Given the close proximity of many cities to the coast as well as abundance of unmanned coastal areas, maritime hybrid is a distinct possibility requiring active involvement of the Navy and the Coast guard. In case of a maritime hybrid war the normal components of the Navy would continue to play an important part in the littorals and in open seas for interdiction of adversary’s irregular assets like floating armories and mercenary flotillas.

Maritime forces are often utilized primarily in support of ground operations, but it is seen that; in environments with a maritime component; maritime operations tend to have a noticeable comparative advantage over land-based operations in terms of mobility, freedom of maneuver, and the ability to impose a smaller or less visible footprint on land. The maritime forces could easily choke supplies through the sea route to reach adversary, protect own maritime trade and fishing in the area, provide logistic and fire support to forces on land from the sea, close escape routes and so on. One important point is that vital external maritime support can be conveniently obtained from friendly nations at sea for ISR, communications and fighting cyber war. The supporting ships could be operating as close as just 12 miles off the coast or hundreds of mile in open seas without violating any regulations.

Now it would be appropriate to look at a few of the salient features of 26 Nov 2008 Mumbai attack as relevant to subject at hand. The Mumbai attack has been analyzed in great depth by various agencies (for e.g. Rand’s ‘Characterizing and Exploring the Implications of Maritime Irregular Warfare’[5] and ‘The Lessons of Mumbai[6]’) and individuals, therefore an attempt is being made here to highlight the main findings of some of these studies. In addition to the meticulous planning, reconnaissance, likely pre-positioning of weapons & ammunition, the major innovation on the part of the terrorists was the real-time exploitation of the international media. Each of the terrorists carried a BlackBerry smart phone to monitor CNN and BBC Internet coverage of the attack in real time. They then immediately adjusted their tactics to increase the amount of media coverage that the attacks would receive. It is believed that the major efforts made by the terrorists to kill U.S. and British civilians were part of the plan to garner more international press coverage.

The case of the LeT attacks in Mumbai illustrates the advantages that could accrue to an adversary from a maritime approach to a target. A maritime approach allows operatives to avoid border crossings and airport security, it offers opportunities to hijack a local vessel so that attackers can blend in with the normal local coastal traffic, and offers terrorist teams extra time for pre-attack planning as well as extra time for rest just before the attack commences. Finally, a maritime insertion allows terrorists to select very precise landing sites and infiltration routes.

The case of the LeT attacks in Mumbai also illustrates the disadvantages that can accrue to a terrorist enemy from a maritime approach to a target. First, once a full blown, large-scale assault has started, it can be very difficult to extricate the operatives. Second, the transport of large explosives aboard fishing vessels and trawlers is risky; thus, maritime terrorist strikes might be limited to relying on small arms to do their damage. Third, some kind of reconnaissance cell would have to be sent to the target city well in advance of the attack, providing an opportunity for a skilled intelligence agency to mount surveillance on the reconnaissance cell and break up the plot before the assault team could embark. Moreover, a maritime approach does not allow the terrorist team to disperse until it lands ashore. Even if the operatives approach in two or three different small boats, the interception of just one of the boats could drastically reduce the team’s numbers and effectiveness.

The fact remains that despite low technological instrumentation, a non state/state sponsored actor coming from open sea, could carry out effective surveillance & reconnaissance regarding the characteristics of targets at land/sea that could be attacked in future. Maritime Hybrid War may graduate to pose bigger economic threat than a military one. Furthermore, these economic costs could be imposed with relatively minor investments from the adversary.

What is worrisome is that now the Hybrid threat can emerge from anywhere in the vast oceans; be it floating armories, mercenary flotillas, or innocuous vessels carrying legitimate cargo with an embedded cyber war-waging cell. The maritime hybrid threat has to be interdicted using Naval and marine assets preferably before it reaches the shores and synergizes with other elements into a full-scale hybrid war. Even though the Indian Government has strived to put in place a very robust MDA there are intelligence gaps, which remain among the various agencies involved which could lead to slipping in of threatening elements physically or otherwise.

“The categories of warfare are blurring and do not fit into neat, tidy boxes. We can expect to see more tools and tactics of destruction — from the sophisticated to the simple — being employed simultaneously in hybrid and more complex forms of warfare.”

Professor Colin Gray

Cyber War

A word about the maritime dimension of cyber war would be proper at this stage. In recent years, there has been considerable discussion of the phenomenon of cyber warfare, its methods, and its ramifications. In essence there are three objectives that can be achieved by cyber-offensive activities: espionage (infiltrating the target’s information storage systems and stealing information), denial of service attacks (preventing Internet usage), and sabotage (infiltrating systems reliant on Internet connections and causing functional damage via malevolent programs). The media largely focuses on the use of computer programs as weapons in the cyber domain, but an attack on Internet infrastructure especially the submarine optical fiber cables is no less an option for terrorists, and often more devastating and effective. In fact, thousands of miles of more than 200 international submarine cable systems carry an estimated 99% of all the world’s trans-oceanic internet and data traffic. Widespread disruption to undersea communications networks could sabotage in excess of $10 trillion in daily international financial transactions, as stated by Michael Sechrist in a 2012 paper ‘New Threats, Old Technology Vulnerabilities in Undersea Communications Cable Network Management Systems[7]’ published by the Harvard Kennedy School. It is pertinent to note that satellites carry just about 5% of global communication traffic.

Even partial damage has extensive consequences because of the resultant jamming of traffic on the limited remaining connection. It is true that the diplomatic and military effects of having Internet communication with world at-large cut off would not be significant, but the direct and indirect economic consequences could be extremely expensive to our economy, especially with the transfer of much data to online cloud services that are actually placed abroad.

What bigger Hybrid threat can be posed at sea than the cutting off the subsea internet cables at time, place, and depths of one’s choosing or cutting off undersea facilities like VLF communication nodes and hydrophones? Would it not be an example of extreme denial of service weapon? Incidentally, such capabilities do exist with some nations today.

Two other aspects of hybrid war, which merit immediate attention of the maritime forces, are onslaught of sensors and swarm warfare.


One very important aspect of the Hybrid warfare is transparency in every field because f utilization of various types of sensors. This ubiquitous sensing revolution promises enhanced awareness of physical, social, and cyber environments by combining three technological trends: the proliferation of ever cheaper and more capable sensors into virtually every device and context; large data aggregation and ready access to it using vast cloud-based archives; and cross-spectral data fusion & sense-making algorithms running on increasingly powerful processors. All of these trends are accelerating, at exponential rates. For instance, as brought by Capt John Litherland, USN (ret), in his paper ‘Fighting in the Open: The Impact of Ubiquitous Sensors on the Future Maritime Battle space’[8]:

-The worldwide total number of sensors has increased tremendously and will pass the one trillion mark, or more than 100 sensors for every person on earth.

– Mass production of electronics has led to significant enhancements in Sensing capabilities. Every smart phone today has a complete inertial, electronic and satellite navigation system comprising just a minor component of its price. Incidentally, a smart phone today hosts of many  of the sensors such as, accelerometer, temperature, gravity, gyroscope, light, linear acceleration, magnetic field, orientation, pressure, proximity, relative humidity, rotation vector and temperature[9].

-The worldwide digital data generation rate now exceeds one ZB (1021 bytes) per year and global storage exceeds 10 ZB.

-The ability to fuse and make sense of unstructured data from disparate sensors and incommensurable formats is being addressed by use of advances in processing capability and data handling algorithms.

-The advent of sensors has however, made the battle space transparent. Today, the warfare has to adapt to this transparency and let go traditional concepts of concealment and camouflage. Stealth technologies are unable to cope up with concealing signatures of the multitude of sensors being used across various domains, be it in the air, on the surface or under water. Navies today can no longer spring a surprise on the adversary because it is not feasible to operate blind in a battlefield littered with multi-spectral sensors, dispersed spatially, and operating in broadband.

The Indian Navy (IN) has to prepare for this aspect of hybrid warfare. The Indian Navy could utilize some of the concepts out lined by Litherland in his paper quoted above[10] :

– Dispersal – IN forces must disperse over as much of the maritime battle space as possible.

– Deception – IN must strategize on targeting the adversary’s sensor complex across multiple spectra with noise, false targets, and cyber attacks.

– Range – IN must gainfully implement Net Work Centric warfare to bestow ‘crippling effects’ at large distances when dispersed.

– Speed – together with range, the speed at which kinetic and non-kinetic effects can be imposed on the adversary will also be a critical factor in Naval war.

Unless the Indian Navy starts preparing now to fight in the Age of Sensors, it risks becoming vulnerable in the event of a hybrid war.


Seminal work has been done on Swarm warfare by Prof. John Arquilla  and David Ronfeldt in their various writings (Swarming and Future of Conflict[11], Countering and exploiting Swarms[12], etc.) the present section derives from their thought processes. Swarm warfare has become the dominant doctrinal concept of certain navies like the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, which has about fifty missile and torpedo boats, along with other light coastal craft, all of which train to employ ‘ESBA’ i.e. like a swarm of bees tactics. The IRGC Navy also has several bases on small islands in the Persian Gulf, from which they can “swarm by fire” with the Chinese missiles in their inventory. China’s PLA Navy regularly practices swarm tactics with its missile, torpedo, and gunboats.

For the Indian Navy, comprised as it is of a number of high-value vessels, swarms pose a considerable and rising threat. Swarm attacks are likely not only from small boats, but also from aircraft, submarines, and drones. At present, the author is unaware of any fitting response by the Indian Navy focused on the use of counter-swarms of drones, and robots. The Indian Navy should also consider responses; as suggested by Prof  Prof. John Arquilla[13];  by designing swarms of much smaller craft like large numbers of jet-ski-sized drones or autonomous weapons whose goal would be to seek out and destroy incoming swarms with rockets, or by ramming and self-detonating. Small and swift Weapons could pose a far superior swarming threat to hybrid adversaries. IN could also think of small undersea swarming systems which are already on the design board to meet demands of clearing minefields, engaging enemy submarines, and carrying out ISR missions. Similarly, small aerial swarm weapon systems could prove exceptionally useful in dealing with air defense of carrier strike groups.


So ‘ere’s to you fuzzy-wuzzy, at your ‘ome in the Soudan; You’re a pore benighted ‘eathen, but a first class fightin’ man. 

Rudyard Kipling

Starting with the fundamental definition of Hybrid war in maritime context as “Naval irregular warfare plus cyber war and any other component that emerges in future”, the implications of cyber, sensors, and swarm warfare have been discussed in this article. However, new types of hybrid threats would keep surfacing and the IN has to be ready for them when called upon to counter them.

Hybrid war, being inherently nebulous and dynamic in nature, calls for constantly adapting naval doctrines and technologies to meet the emerging maritime hybrid threats.

(Based upon a talk ‘Maritime and Air Dimensions of Hybrid War’ delivered by the author during ‘National Seminar: Hybrid Warfare’ on 02 Nov 2016 under aegis of Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi)













[13] ibid

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|




























Proactive Defense Infrastructure Planning of Indian Island Territories A Conceptual Case Study of Lakshadweep (Minicoy and Suheli Par Islands)

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

ANALYSIS | Proactive Defense Infrastructure Planning of Indian Island Territories

IndraStra Global  4/05/2016 03:28:00 PM  Featured , India , Indian Navy , Maritime ,Sea Lanes of Communications , South Asia

Proactive Defense Infrastructure Planning of Indian Island Territories

A Conceptual Case Study of Lakshadweep (Minicoy and Suheli Par Islands)

By Rear Admiral Dr S. Kulshrestha (Retd.), Indian Navy  and Rahul Guhathakurta, IndraStra Global


The strategy for coastal and offshore security has been articulated in the document “Ensuring Secure Seas: Indian Maritime Security Strategy” of the Indian Navy. The strategy envisages ‘to reduce, counter and eliminate the threat of armed attack by sub-conventional groups, and also influx of arms and infiltration by armed attackers from the sea, against coastal and offshore assets’.

The chapter “Strategy for Conflict’ covers the actions for coastal and offshore defense. Essentially the operations will be carried out by the Indian Navy in synergy with the Indian Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and other security agencies.

Defending India’s Coast, Offshore Assets, EEZ and Island Territories.

India has a formidable naval force with both blue water and littoral capabilities; it also has a credible Coast guard, which would work in unison with the Indian Navy in times of war. Further India has put in place a powerful template for marine domain awareness, intelligence and protection of the coastal and offshore areas, in the aftermath of the terrorist attack of 26 Nov 2008. Some of the measures include; setting up of Multi Agency Centres (MAC) for intelligence inputs and reports; registration of fishing vessels by states; placing in orbit Indian Regional Navigation Seven Satellite System and satellite GSAT 7 ; setting up of a coast wide radar chain; raising Marine Police force, Marine Commandos Rapid Reaction Force and a Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB);setting up layered patrolling; putting in place The National Command Control Communication and Intelligence network (NC3IN) etc.

Prominent Gaps in Coastal and Offshore Defence

Thus, the layered defence of Indian coast and its offshore areas consists of Indian Navy, the coast guard, the marine commando & Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB) and the marine police. All these are info-linked for maximum advance knowledge and in a way form a net worked coalition. However, there apparently is a gap as far as setting up the coastal and offshore area defences per se is concerned. It lacks the delay, denial, disruption, and demoralizing (D4) capability, which is essential in today’s environment. This capability should be acquired by leveraging the perceived threats presented by the submarine, mines, small craft and cruise missiles.

The defence plan should be an asymmetric and proactive approach to defence with defining it as a zone that comprises two segments of the defence environment:-

·                     Seaward- the area from the shore to the open ocean, which must be defended to thwart expeditionary forces at sea.

·                      Landward- from the shore to the area inland that can be supported and defended directly from the shore.

The existing gap in Indian defences can be obviated with very potent defence elements by including:-

·                     Comprehensive assessment of threats from expeditionary forces to ports/ harbors.

·                     Procurement of midget/ miniature submarines with torpedoes and mine laying capability along with arrays of underwater sensors for environment, intrusion information, navigation and communication.

·                     Procurement of UAVs/USVs with intelligent software for remote operations as swarms.

·                     Procurement of Unmanned Underwater Sensor and Weapon Carriers capable of transmitting integrated underwater picture to fixed or mobile stations, firing torpedoes and laying mines.

·                     Procurement and laying of cable controlled mine fields, other mine fields across various depths zones.

·                     Coastal extended reach anti ship cruise missile batteries.

·                     Coastal gun batteries with ability to carry out precision attack on surface ships at ranges greater than 50 km.

·                     All systems networked for an ironclad protection of the Indian Coast and offshore assets and territories.

·                     Development of weapons specific for use in coastal areas and

·                     Development of systems for collection of oceanographic information.

A robust Indian coastal and offshore defense plan and its implementation is an essential element of economic wellbeing of India, as it would ensure security of sea trade, shipping, fishing, marine resources, and offshore assets as well as security of the EEZ.

Rights of a Coastal State w.r.t. EEZ

Within its EEZ, a coastal state has sovereign rights for exploring, exploiting, conserving, and managing natural living and non-living resources of the waters superjacent to the seabed and its sub soil. Further, it can exploit and explore production of energy from water, winds, and currents. The EEZ remains an open zone with freedom of innocent passage for all. The EEZ legal regime is different from that governing territorial waters and high seas, and contains certain characteristics of both.

However, in a recent judgment regarding the Enrica Lexie (Italian marines) case, the Supreme Court of India has declared the region between the contiguous zone and the 200 nautical miles in to the sea as ‘High Seas’. The Supreme court has said that Article 97 of the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is not applicable as shooting was a criminal action and not a navigation accident.

China has been maintaining its right to regulate foreign military activities in its EEZ, as it feels that it has the right to prevent any activity that threatens its economic interests or security. It also asserts that its domestic laws have jurisdiction in its EEZ. The Chinese law requires foreign entities to obtain prior approval to carryout resource exploitation, fishing, and marine research. As far as military activities are concerned, it holds them as prejudicial to ‘peaceful purposes’ provision of the Laws of the Seas Convention. This interpretation has led to a number of minor standoffs between it and the United States of America.

India is also one of the countries, which mandate prior permission before any maintenance, or repairs are carried out to the submarine cables running on the floor of its EEZ.

With respect to military activities by foreign militaries in the EEZ, India along with Bangladesh, Brazil, Cape Verde, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Uruguay require obtaining of prior permission. North Korea has prohibited any such activity within 50 nm of its territory and Iran has completely prohibited the same.

As far as oceanographic surveying is considered, again some countries require prior permission, in fact, China registered protests against the activities of USNS Bowditch and India against HMS Scott and USNS Bowditch, which were gathering military data by undertaking oceanographic survey. Coupling the above with increased proliferation of submarines in the region, the instances of clandestine underwater and ASW surveys would only increase. There are bound to be incidents involving intruder submarines in future and states would therefore be monitoring activities in their EEZs diligently.

EEZ Security Components

Two essential components of effective EEZ security management comprise of surveillance and deterrence. Some of the drawbacks of EEZ surveillance systems in use today include; inability of patrol boats to carry out surveillance, since their missions are area denial, SAR or interdiction; UAV’s have much better sensor packages but need a large infrastructure for 24/7 surveillance; HF radars are affordable but need very large areas for installation; Microwave radars suffer from limited horizon; and patrol aircraft incur huge costs. Since radars have difficulty in automatically identifying unknown and devious small vessels and the electro optic systems are heavily weather dependent, there is requirement for add on sensors to carry out effective monitoring of EEZ. In fact, a complete EEZ surveillance system should be able to cater to all the facets of EEZ activity be it , terrorism, drug and human trafficking, piracy, smuggling, coastal security, Search and rescue, sea traffic control, pollution control, illegal fishing, illegal arms supply and exploitation of natural resources of solar, air, wave, minerals, oil and gas. For such an extensive requirement a cooperative, synergetic and system of systems approach between various agencies involved would be paramount.

The surveillance platforms would include the following:-

·                     Unmanned undersea vehicles, sonar arrays, patrol submarines, and other under water sensors.

·                     Remotely operated vehicles, unmanned surface vehicles, offshore platforms, sensors for activity monitoring, and patrol boats.

·                     Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS), communication networks, control centers, pollution monitoring centers, surface and navigation radars, and electro-optic systems.

·                     Unmanned Ariel Vehicles, patrol aircraft, helicopters, aerostats, and sensors.

·                     Observation and communication satellites.

Coming to the deterrence capability in the EEZ, it has to be a non-military option during peacetime, which brings the discussion to deployment of Non Lethal Weapons (NLW) and the need to develop them for the EEZ environment. Conflicts in the EEZ are definitely going to be unconventional and it would be difficult to distinguish the adversary from the neutrals or friendly vessels. This may lead to conflicts where use of lethal weapons may not be permissible. Non-lethal weapons would provide tactical as well as strategic benefits to the EEZ protection force in the global commons. NLW would enable options for de-escalation of conflicts, avoid irretrievable consequences of using lethal options, and result in deterring activity without loss of lives and damage to material. NLWs have to be cost effective and easy to operate, as different varieties in varying numbers would be required. However to ensure a calibrated approach, across the spectrum of conflict, there is also a need for NLWs to be doctrinally integrated with the regular naval forces to enable them to tackle a developing situation in the EEZ.

Defense of Island Territories

The defence of the Island territories has to be structured as a mix of the Coastal and EEZ defence plans. The defence plan in case of the Islands should be an asymmetric and proactive approach to defence with defining it as a zone that comprises three segments of the defence environment:-

·                     Seaward- the area from the shore to the open ocean, which must be defended to thwart expeditionary forces at sea.

·                     Landward- from the shore to the area inland that can be supported and defended directly from the shore.

·                     From the Sea-  from the sea by warships and submarines in case, an incursion has already been made on an unprotected/ inadequately protected island. As well as drawing from offensive infrastructure at the islands in the vicinity.

The surveillance and defense components have to be drawn from the coastal and EEZ defense plans and augmented by use of warships and submarines at sea.

“Even if Chinese naval ships and submarines appear regularly in the Indian Ocean, so what?” he asked. “As the largest trading nation in the world, maritime security in the Indo-Pacific cannot be more important for China. The Chinese navy has to protect its overseas interests such as the safety of personnel and security of property and investment. Much of these are along the rim of the Indian Ocean.” – Zhou Bo, honorary fellow, Academy of Military Science, Beijing, Jul 2015

An Academic Case Study of Proactive Defense Infrastructure at Two Lakshadweep Islands (Minicoy and Suheli Par)

The Lakshadweep islands lie between 8° – 12 °3′ N latitude and 71°E – 74°E longitude about 225 to 450 km from the Coast of Kerala. There are 12 atolls, 3 reefs, and five submerged banks. In all, there are 36 Islands, with a total land area of 32 sq km; Lakshadweep islands have a lagoon area of 4200 sq km and 20,000 sq km of territorial waters. It provides a large swath of 4, 00,000 sq km of Exclusive Economic Zone.

Map 1: Proximity Analysis of Minicoy Island and Suheli Par with respect to SLOCs (Interactive map available at


Minicoy is the southernmost island in the Lakshadweep. It lies between 8° 15’ to 8° 20’ N and 73° 01’ to 73° 05 E with an area of 4.4 sq km including the Viringli islet. Minicoy is separated from the rest of Lakshadweep by the nine-degree channel and from the Maldives by the 8° channel. It is an independent oceanic island that does not belong to either the Maldives or the Lakshadweep bank.

Map 2: Minicoy Island Naval Air Station: The Concept (Interactive map available at

Suheli Par

It is located at 10°05′N 72°17′E / 10.083°N 72.283°E / 10.083; 72.283, 52 km to the SW of Kavaratti, 76 km to the south of Agatti, 139 km to the west of Kalpeni and 205 km to the NNW of Minicoy, with the broad Nine Degree Channel between them. There are two uninhabited islands, Valiyakara at the northern end with a lighthouse ARLHS LAK-015, and Cheriyakara on the southeastern side. These two islands have a long sandbank Suheli Pitti between them.

Map 3: Suheli Par Naval Air Station: The Concept (Interactive map available at

As a purely academic exercise, a proactive defense infrastructure has been studied for placement on Minicoy and Suheli Par using GIS and other architectural tools available as open source. The primary study is based upon the following documents:

·                     Draft Approach Paper For The 12th Five Year Plan (2012‐2017), Earth System Science Organization Ministry of Earth Sciences

·                     Notification under section 3(1) and section 3(2)(v) of the environment (protection) act, 1986 and rule 5(3)(d) of the environment (protection) rules, 1986 declaring coastal stretches as coastal regulation zone (CRZ) and regulating activities in the CRZ. New Delhi, the 19th February 1991(as amended up to 3rd October 2001)

·                     Report of the Working Group on Improvement of Banking Services in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep by RBI, 12 May 2008

·                     Socioeconomic Dimensions And Action Plan For Conservation Of Coastal Resources Based On An Understanding Of Anthropogenic Threats. Minicoy Island – UT Of Lakshadweep Project Supervisor: Vineeta Hoon. Centre for Action Research on Environment Science & Society, Chennai. 2003.

·                     Report on Visit to Lakshadweep – a coral reef wetland included under National Wetland Conservation and Management Programme of the Ministry of Environment & Forests. 30th October – 1st November 2008

·                     Report on BSLLD (Urban) Pilot in Lakshdweep, 2014. Directorate of Planning and Statistics, Lakshadweep.

·                     CZMAs and Coastal Environments- Two Decades of Regulating Land Use Change on India’s Coastline. Center for Policy Research, 2015.

·                     Integrated Island Management Plan (IIMP) for Minicoy island.

·                     Lakshadweep Development Report

Criterion for selection of the island of Minicoy and Suheli par

Some of the criterion for selection of the islands of Minicoy and Suheli par are:

Minicoy and Suheli Par would synergistic-ally straddle the 9-degree channel, one of the most important SLOC not only for India, but also for the Indo-Pacific region and also for China. The security of the SLOC would be ensured pro-actively by developing the defense structure at both islands.

·                     Minicoy is inhabited and Suheli Par is not, thus providing two distinct classes of islands.

·                     Minicoy is geologically different from other islands in the Lakshadweep.

·                     Both have large lagoons.

·                     Both need to be developed for prosperity and connectivity of the region with main land.

·                     Both have poor connectivity with mainland.

·                     Both can provide security structures for EEZ and its regulation

·                     Main Features of Proactive Defense of Islands.

The main features of the conceptual structures include:

·                     Airstrips for use by tourists as well as defense.

·                     Small harbor facilities

·                     Submarine piers

·                     Mini/midget pens

·                     Staging facilities

·                     Coastal gun and missile batteries

·                     Mooring Buoys

·                     Off Shore ammunition storage

·                     Air defense capability

·                     Radar and underwater sensors

·                     Strategic Oil Storage Facility

·                     Command, Communications, and Control Center for Indian Navy

·                     Strategic Communication facility

·                     Storm Warning and Fisheries information center

·                     Ocean Surveillance stations and cabled Oceanic Information Observatories

·                     Floating sun power panels

·                     Offshore Desalination plants

·                     Facilities for Tourists

Linkages with MDA, ODA, and OICZ

It is important that any academic exercise for development of a proactive defense infrastructure of island territories consider concepts of Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), Oceanic Domain Awareness (ODA), and Ocean Information Consciousness Zones (OICZ). MDA focuses upon the maritime security environment specific to naval operations; the ODA focuses upon the overarching oceanic environment. Both are technology intensive and require sophisticated sensors and computational capabilities.MDA has tactical, regional, and strategic components whereas the ODA is strategic knowledge based architecture. Both require elaborate data and information fusing interface with myriad of interconnected agencies. The MDA primarily needing vast inputs from commercial, intelligence and security agencies and the ODA from advanced research, academic and scientific communities. The ODA is conceptualized as a comprehensive 3D+ knowledge zone up to India’s EEZ, the OICZ on the other hand is a collaborative approach at sharing oceanic information, processing it as required and archiving it for use at a later date. ODA can be established by a country individually, but OICZ requires transfer / sharing of scientific knowledge and technology between nations. Benefits of ODA accrue to the nation whereas OICZ would empower the region. Both are strategic in nature.

The usage of “geo-spatial tools” behind the “Conceptual Proactive Defense Infrastructure Plan” for Minicoy and Suheli Par

In the field of geopolitical studies, spatial analysis driven by various geographic information system (GIS) technologies helps strategic experts in computing required and desired solutions. In this analysis of Minicoy Island and Suheli Par, Google My Map API is used to perform a variety of geo-spatial calculations by using a set of easy to use function calls in the data step. In layman’s term, a layer-by-layer computational analysis of geographic patterns to finding optimum routes, site selection, and advanced predictive modeling to substantiate this analysis has been carried out. These concepts are formulated by considering the land reclamation factors and available details of Integrated Island Management Plan of Government of India (GoI) for Lakshadweep Islands. However, there are certain limitations associated with this analysis with respect to bathymetric data, which has not been considered for evaluation purpose due to lack of availability of such data in open/public domain. Further, these interactive custom maps can be easily exported into KMZ format and can also be embedded seamlessly with other websites for further distribution.

Considering all the factors discussed hitherto the maps are embedded in this article, depicting the proactive defense infrastructure plan for Minicoy and Suheli Par have been developed.


India’s EEZ and island territories face threats of disruption of energy supplies, piracy, and acts of terrorism, in addition to the fact that other nations are keen to poach in to the fisheries and seabed wealth. The security of the EEZ and island territories is therefore a matter of India’s national interest and need exists for boosting the surveillance and augmenting security arrangements of EEZ’s and island territories. Even though, an ambitious plan for coastal security and maritime domain awareness has been put in place, it needs to be further strengthened and stitched together so that the security of EEZ and Island territories functions as a comprehensive entity with synergies across the various agencies involved.

The academic exercise undertaken above in respect of Minicoy and Suheli Par islands demonstrates that it is feasible to provide effective SLOC protection, achieve maritime dominance in a limited area of interest, provide support to second strike capability and utilize space and oceans for surveillance, intelligence, science, and communications purposes.

Time for a proactive approach to plan the defense of EEZ and island territories is now!


About The Authors:


Rear Admiral Dr S. Kulshrestha: The author RADM Dr. S. Kulshrestha (Retd.), INDIAN NAVY, holds expertise in quality assurance of naval armament and ammunition. He is an alumnus of the NDC and a PhD from JNU. He superannuated from the post of Dir General Naval Armament Inspection in 2011. He is unaffiliated and writes in defence journals on issues related to Armament technology and indigenisation.


Rahul Guhathakurta: He is the founder of IndraStra Global and a seasoned supply chain management professional with 8+ years experience in trade route optimization and planning through various GIS applications.

Cite this Article:

Kulshrestha, S, Guhathakurta, R “ANALYSIS | Proactive Defense Infrastructure Planning of Indian Island Territories – A Conceptual Case Study of Lakshadweep (Minicoy and Suheri Pal Islands)” IndraStra Global 002, no. 04 (2015): 0015. |ISSN 2381-3652|


Tonga and the Third Island Chain

( Published in IndraStra Global on 25 Feb 2016, ISSN 2381-3652 )

“The ongoing disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea mean that Japan’s top foreign policy priority must be to expand the country’s strategic horizons. Japan is a mature maritime democracy and choice of close partners should reflect that fact. I envisage a strategy whereby Australia, India, Japan, and the US State of Hawaii form a diamond to safeguard the maritime commons starting from the Indian Ocean Region to the Western Pacific. I am prepared to invest the greatest possible extent, Japan’s capabilities in the security diamond”

Shinzo Abe, 2013

Interestingly, John Foster Dulles of the US of A propounded the Island Chain Concept, comprising of three island chains, in 1951 for strategic containment of USSR and China. The key component of the First Island Chain was Taiwan (it was thereafter christened as one of the Unsinkable Aircraft Carriers); it extended from northern Philippines & Borneo, up to Kuril islands. The second line of defense was from Mariana Island to Islands of Japan. The Third Chain’s key component was Hawaii; it began at Aleutians and ended in Oceania. Now that the breakdown of USSR has taken place, the Chinese believe that this concept would be used to contain China.

General Liu Huaqing had articulated a three-tier program for modernizing the PLAN (commonly referred to as Chinese Navy),according to which the Chinese Navy is proceeding to fast pace its modernization efforts. The program essentially comprises of three time lines, namely:

Year 2020- Acquire capability to exert sea control up to the First Island Chain i.e. bracketing the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

Year 2020- The sea control capability would be extended to the Second Island Chain, which amounts to bracketing the Philippines Sea.

Year 2050- The capabilities would extend to operating Carrier battle groups globally.

The phenomenal economic growth followed by upgrading of military capabilities of PLA and the subsequent claims on islands in the South China Sea, probably led Mr. Shizo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, to articulate the “Asian Security Diamond” in 2013. It called upon India, Australia, and Hawaii (US) to form a strategic coalition for safeguarding the maritime commons comprising the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific. The Japanese Prime minister has also approached France and United Kingdom to join this Asian Security Diamond keeping in view the significant strategic presence of these two countries in the IOR and the Western Pacific.

The Polynesian Link in the Third Island Chain

The third Island Chain as espoused by Dulles; from the Aleutians to Oceania with Hawaii as a key component; has started to assume relevance with an assertive China militarizing disputed islands. New Zealand –Tonga – Hawaii link within this chain; could play a significant role at least as far as Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) is concerned. Whereas, New Zealand and Hawaii may not need any benign assistance, Tonga, with its 177 islands spread over an area of ~700,000 sq km in southern Pacific Ocean, is a different story.

Currently, in the maritime arena, Tonga is grappling with security of its extensive coastline as well as policing of its EEZ of 676,401 sq km. Its remote location, over 2,330 km from New Zealand and over 5000 km from Hawaii make it a fertile region for transnational crime. Tonga has insufficient physical and electronic monitoring resources to remain updated about real time situation in its vast area and is severely constrained as far as MDA is concerned. Tonga with its outlying islands is susceptible to gun running, narcotics, human trafficking and other criminal activities. In addition, unauthorized exploitation of its fisheries and marine wealth in its coastal waters as well as in its EEZ has direct impact on its national economy and security. As regards applicability of MDA to Tonga it would be prudent to take a cue from the definition and scope of MDA, as has been articulated by the US government vide their document National Security Presidential Directive 41, 2004:-

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.

Unlike traditional naval operations, it is apparent that the goal of MDA is far more than simply looking for potential maritime enemies poised to attack Tonga. The implications of “Anything associated” with the maritime environment that can affect 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. What Tonga needs today is a robust MDA along with a rapid air & sea transportation capability.

An important factor that has to be considered while discussing the Third Island Chain is that Tonga is being aggressively wooed by China, even though there are only about 300 Chinese residents as per some estimates. 

India has been participating in bilateral and multilateral strategic dialogues in the region including those involving Japan, Australia, and the US and the Indian Navy has participated in various naval exercises. However, India has not joined any group, which directly aims at containment of China.

India maintains cordial relations with nations in the Pacific; however, Tonga and other smaller nations in the South Pacific Ocean aspire for more attention from India. India could assist Tonga, benignly, in setting up of its MDA infrastructure. This would not only enhance the potency of the Polynesian Island link in the Third Island Chain, but also strengthen Tonga’s maritime security.


My Book “Negotiating the Acquisition of Nanotechnology in India”

My Book

My book

“Negotiating the acquisition of Nanotechnology in India” has been published by LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany.


February 15, 2016



Nanotechnology represents one of those emerging ‘platform’ technologies that can provide much needed enhanced capabilities to defence of a country. The pervasive nature of nanotechnology research, and the important anticipated products that will influence future industrial products, implies the need to focus on areas where security concerns are likely to arise. Nations see strategic interests in nanotechnology; in that they hope to be in a position of strength to exploit arising opportunities, when nanotechnology starts to have considerable impact on global economy. The desire of a nation to emerge as an economic beneficiary (or a leader) through profitable use of nanotechnology would be dependent upon its diplomatic and negotiation skills with other nations in forging complex relationships which protect its national interests. The evolving of this industry in India through negotiation during TOT, Joint ventures/partnerships etc. is likely to shape the relationships and alliances India shares in the global arena.


“The Strategic Importance of Tonga for India”

Kulshrestha, Sanatan. “FEATURED | The Strategic Importance of Tonga for India” IndraStra Global 02, no. 02 (2016): 0031.

| ISSN 2381-3652 |


Tonga is an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, lying about 5,060 km Southeast of Hawaii. It comprises of 177 islands in the central Pacific Ocean covering ~360,700 sq km of ocean with a land area of 699 sq km. The main island groups are Tongatupu, Haíapai, and Vavaíua. It is to the credit of the Kingdom of Tonga that, it is the only monarchy in South Pacific that has never been colonized. The capital of Tonga is Nuku’alofa, which lies on the Tongatupu island chain.

China and Tonga

It is understood that pro democracy supporters started the riots in the central business district in Nuku’alofa on 16 November 2006. Since a large number of shops destroyed were owned by Chinese origin Tongans, China provided a concessional loan of $118 mn to Tonga. This was followed by military supplies worth Euro 340,000 in 2008.

Two Chinese warships namely a missile frigate “Mianyang” and a training ship “Zhenghe” visited Nukualofa in September 2010. A new Chinese- Tongan bank was also set up in 2013. China also gifted a $15 mn commercial Xian MA60 aircraft to Tonga.

This was followed by the visit of a Chinese Hospital ship “Peace Ark” on a “Harmonious Mission 2014” in Aug 2014. This ship provided consultations, medicines and even carried out complex surgeries for Tongans. As per, commanding officer of the “Harmonious Mission – 2014” Rear Admiral Shen Hao, “The purpose of this tour to Tonga, with the mission of providing medical services, is to carry forward the international humanitarian spirit, strengthen exchanges between the two militaries, and promote the view of harmony”.

On the other hand, the Chinese residents have been at the receiving end of the racial attacks. It is said that out of the 3000 to 4000 of them, only about 300 remain, the rest having fled Tonga.

Nevertheless, China continues to make overtures to Tonga.


India – Tonga Relations 

Tonga and India have very cordial relationship.

In July 2006, Indian naval ship – INS ‘Tabar’ paid a goodwill visit to Tonga. Late King George Tuopou V visited India in September 2009 on a private visit. Tonga has been provided 15 training slots for 2015-16 under ITEC programme. A small number of Tongan Defence Service personnel have been availing defence training in various training institutions in India. As per the MEA briefing notes, in 2007, India has given a grant-aid of US$ 100,000/- each for construction of access road from Wharf to Hunga village and up-gradation of jetty in Hunga. India has also provided grant-aid of US$ 3,00,000 for Tsunami Alert System in July 2014 and approved grant-aid of US$ 1,15,000 for Project Proposal “Upgrade to the Office of the Public Service Commission ICT Infrastructure” in October 2014.

Tonga delegation was led by the Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano, when Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi hosted the India-Pacific Island Countries Forum Summit in Suva (Fiji) during the visit on 19 November 2014 with the participation of 14 Pacific countries. Some of the announcements made during the summit with respect to Pacific countries (including Tonga) included;

-Setting up of a Special Adaptation Fund of $ 1 million,

– Development of Pan Pacific Islands Project for telemedicine and tele-education,

-Indian Visa on arrival for Pacific Island Countries .Deputation of ITEC experts to Pacific Island countries, including in the areas of agriculture, healthcare, and IT,

-Cooperation in the use of Space technology applications for improving the quality of life of people and communications,

-Explore possibilities of sharing data for monitoring climate change, disaster risk reduction, and management and resource management,

-Undertake joint research in traditional medicine; developing healthcare facilities for the benefit of people in the region.

Needless to say, that International Day of Yoga was celebrated in Tonga on 21 June 2015.

EEZ Resources

Tonga has an EEZ of 676,401 sq Km.

The seabed mineral potential of Tonga is attracting a large number of countries who intend to carry out exploration to assess the mining potential of the ‘sea floor massive sulphide’ deposits, which could yield significant amount of metals like gold, silver, copper and zinc.

Tonga is the first country in the world to promulgate Seabed Minerals Act in 2014 to manage seabed mineral activities in its territorial waters as well as its EEZ. The Act emphasizes the protection and preservation of the marine environment as well as the need to balance economic development for the people of Tonga against conservation of the biodiversity of the oceans. India can gain from this in framing its own deep sea mining regulations.

Way Ahead

It appears that Tongans believe India should look at South Pacific Ocean as a strategic interlink to the Indian Ocean and not as a peripheral appendage. Tongans apparently resent being seen via Fiji and Australia in the strategic scheme of power projection. They would prefer to be dealt with as an independent strategic partner along with other smaller nations in the South Pacific Ocean.

India has put in place a comprehensive framework for future cooperation in the South Pacific, the need now is to accelerate the collaboration in the areas of communications, climate change monitoring, fisheries, ocean sciences and technology.


It has been nearly 35 years since a Indian Prime Minister visited Tonga probably it is time now to take the relationship with Tonga to a higher echelon and also peg smaller South Pacific Nations as strategic allies.

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.