A few days ago, Indian Navy received intelligence on the presence of two Song-class, diesel-electric submarines of the People's Liberation Army Navy (China) in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Based on the inputs, the Eastern Naval Command diverted two of its ships (names kept confidential) to locate and track the movement of the Chinese submarines.
The presence of Chinese subs in the IOR and in the Indo-Pacific region has been a cause for concern and ENC has been on alert.
Such movements are a common thing, but we have to be on alert and the important thing is that we need to convey the message to other countries that we are present and watching, and any misadventure will be dealt with, said Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of ENC Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain.
But having said so, he also added that the only lacuna faced by the navy in hunting the lurking foreign submarines, was the absence of good helicopters that were adept at locating, tracking and attacking them if required.
But that gap will be filled shortly, as the Indian Navy is acquiring 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters from the US-based Lockheed Martin's Sikorsky company, he said.
These MRH (multi role helicopters) will be a game changer for the navy, especially when it comes to anti-submarine warfare, and ENC will get at least 10 of them.
Sources in the Defence Ministry said that the new acquisition would come as a replacement for the ageing Sea King helicopters.
Talking about its potentiality, Vice Admiral Jain said: At present the dependence is on Chetak Helicopters. The range of Chetaks is limited to a radius of about 10 km, whether from shore or from any floating platform. But the endurance capacity of Seahawk is very high and can fly for hours and cover huge tracts over land or water.
Seahawks can operate for long ranges both from shores and ships and can land on the flight on any Indian naval ship, be it corvettes or guided missile destroyers. Its avionics, communication and radars are advanced and state-of-the-art, and has proven to be one of the best in anti-submarine warfare. It is capable of firing air-launched torpedoes and Hellfire missiles, according to top sources in ENC.