MUMBAI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday said that India must build up its military might to the point that no other country “dare cast an evil eye” on the South Asian nation.
Modi made the statement after commissioning India’s largest indigenously built warship “INS Kolkata” into the Indian Navy, describing it as “a symbol of our self-reliance in the field of defence”.
“Not only are we dedicating the warship, but we are also introducing to the whole world India’s technical prowess and defence capabilities,” Modi asserted at the ceremony attended by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral R K Dhowan.
“Our aim is to achieve such prowess in our defence capabilities that no country dare cast an evil eye on India,” Modi told naval officers and other dignitaries.
India is in the midst of a $100bn defence upgrade programme. Modi said India must stop relying so heavily on defence imports and focus instead on local research, design and manufacture.
“This warship has been built by India’s engineers, technicians and defence experts,” the premier said. “It is the biggest example yet of what we can make in India,” Modi said. “It is the aim of this government to take India from its position of importing every little piece of military hardware to a position where we can export equipment.”
The 6,800-tonne INS Kolkata is fitted with the most advanced weapons systems, sensors and communication technology. It is expected to strengthen to India’s maritime capabilities and help secure its huge strategic interests in the region stretching from the Gulf to the Malacca Strait.
Part of the Kolkata Class destroyers of the Indian Navy, INS Kolkata has been designed by the naval Design Bureau and constructed by Mazagon Docks Ltd, Mumbai. The first in the series which will include INS Kochi and INS Chennai, the 6,800-tonne INS Kolkata with an operating range of 15,000km, was delivered to the navy last month and commissioned yesterday.
With this, no country would dare challenge India and the ship will boost the Indian Navy’s capabilities, the prime minister said, calling it “a historic day for India and its people”. Modi said that his government has taken major steps to boost indigenous defence technology and it has been the country’s dream to achieve self-reliance in all areas.
Now, India has the potential to export defence technology to the rest of the world, which is a matter of pride for the country, he added, lauding the contribution of Indian designers, engineers, technicians and strategists who worked to make the country’s largest ever warship and strengthen the country’s maritime defence capabilities.
However, Modi made it clear that India doesn’t want a war. “But we have to be alert, prepared — INS Kolkata will ensure safety of the people of this country.” Fitted with the most advanced weapons systems, including anti-submarine technology, at 163m X 17.4m width, INS Kolkata is the largest stealth destroyer constructed by the MDL.
It is an advanced version, but significantly more versatile, of the Delhi Class ships — INS Delhi, INS Mysore and INS Mumbai — which will add considerable punch to India’s maritime warfare capabilities with the first ever all-round capability against enemy submarines, surface warships, anti-ship missiles and fighter aircraft. Most of the weapons and sensors fitted on board are of indigenous make.
These include the state-of-the-art BrahMos surface-to-surface missiles, rocket launchers, torpedo tube launchers, sonar Humsa and AK-630 guns, giving it the capability to counter enemy threats at sea and also air attacks. Built under the ambitious Project 15-Alpha, these features enable it to operate without a supporting fleet of ships making it one of the most formidable warships of this class and category anywhere in the world.
Presently, the Indian Navy has around 140 ships, with another 44 under construction at different shipyards in the country.