China continues to be a “formidable challenge,” according to Indian Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar, who noted that China has increased both its marine and land presence near India’s frontiers. The Navy Chief discussed the nation’s conventional and other security challenges during a panel discussion on “India’s Naval Revolution: Becoming an Ocean Power,” adding that “Pakistan, despite economic constraints, has continued its military modernization, especially its Navy, which is on track to become a 50-platform force by about 2030-2035.”
“While these conventional military challenges persist, terrorism remains a major security threat, as it continues to evolve in shape, scale, and size. Staying one step ahead of such an invisible enemy, who will constantly innovate tactics, enabled by niche technologies, is a challenge that persists,” the Navy chief said.
Emanating from this security environment are the security challenges that India faces,” he added.
“While competition is being played out on a daily basis – at times testing limits – but without escalating into armed action, a war with potential adversaries can never be ruled out.
“In this regard, China remains a formidable challenge and has increased its presence, not only along our land borders but also in the maritime domain by leveraging anti-piracy operations to normalize its naval presence in the Indian Ocean Region,” the Navy chief said.
Later, during a conversation on the dais, he said that China had established a military station in Djibouti and had been present in the Indian Sea since roughly 2008. Additionally, it relates to building various ports in the Indian Sea for Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan, and other countries.
“At any point of time, there is about, anything between 5-8 Chinese Navy units, be they be warships, Chinese research vessels, or a host of Chinese fishing vessels operating in the Indian Ocean Region.
“We keep a watch on them, their activities in the Indian Ocean Region,” the Navy chief said in response to a question on China as a security challenge in IOR during the interaction.
According to Admiral Kumar, the Indian Navy operates aircraft sorties and has ships stationed practically continuously to monitor the Indian Ocean region.
But he said that capability plans and development are “based on our need to safeguard, preserve, and advance our interests in the maritime domain,” not on the needs of any single country or nation.