INS Vikrant — a naval liability

INS Vikrant to get LRSAM Cover Soon - ELE Times
INS Vikrant

Indian warship building has finally come a full circle after 250 years. It was in the 1780s that the Royal Navy impressed by the man’o wars in the 100 ton-1,000 ton range made from hardy Malabar Teak that the team of shipwrights under the Parsi master builder Luwji Nusserwanji Wadia constructed at the East India Company’s shipyard in Bombay for the trading firm’s use, ordered a number of frigates from the Wadias for its frontline service. Now the Kochi shipyard has turned out what will doubtless be the flagship of the Indian navy — a 40,000 ton aircraft carrier, the new INS Vikrant, presently undergoing sea trials.

Still, the country is not all there yet. Just as the HMS Cornwallis type of ships of Bombay pedigree were, in the heyday of Pax Britannica, equipped by 3 ton guns wrought in Britain, most of the high value weapons and other hardware on board Vikrant are of foreign origin as are the aircraft designated to fly off its deck.

So, we are still stuck with that inconvenient reality since the follow-on to the Leander-class frigate, the Godavari-class, were built at Mazgaon in the late 1970s, that while 80-85% of the carrier is indigenous, it is more by weight than by value. The 15-20% of the weight made up by the shipborne guns, missiles, sensors, and data/information fusion, navigation and other paraphernalia enhancing situational awareness constituting the high value end of technology and the bulk of the cost of the aircraft carrier, are all imported.

That said, the capability to construct aircraft carriers is no mean achievement. It is just as consequential as India’s capacity to design and build its own nuclear-powered ballistic missile-firing submarines (SSBNs). Except the Indian carrier-making capability is coming to fruition just when the age of the large ships is coming to a close. The Wadia shipbuilders never transitioned from sail to steam-powered ships and hence slipped into a backwater. There’s every danger that unless the Indian Navy and shipyards adjust fast to the naval requirements of the future, they too could soon become relics.

Which brings the discussion to the operational value of aircraft carriers in the coming era of supersonic and hypersonic cruise missiles and remotely piloted automoumous weapons platforms. Here I can do no better than reprise the arguments I made against this type of warship in my last two books — on pages 350-351 in ‘Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)’ published in 2015 and on pages 373-376 in ‘Staggering Forward: Narendra Modi and India’s Global Ambition’ released in 2018.

There are three main negatives of the aircraft carrier, other than their extreme vulnerability, as mentioned. to supersonic and, soon hypersonic, anti-ship cruise missiles that will be in the employ of all potentially adversary navies. These are:

1) Aircraft carriers are prized targets, both because of their symbolic value and enormous cost — the Vikrant price tag is US$ 8-10 billion with its complement of strike aircraft and early warning and anti-submarine warfare helicopters. So, the enemy will prioritise their destruction early in a war by any and all means — strikes by land-based and carrier-based combat aircraft, by ballistic and cruise missiles launched from air, ships and submarines, and submarine-fired heavy torpedoes. In the event, an aircraft carrier at sea is all but unprotectable considering the kind of guided ordnance that can be fired at it, not just singly but in salvoes from too many firing points that cannot all be adequately covered.

2) Even so, by the very nature of this ship, a navy would mobilize a dense, layered, defence for its protection. At a minimum, this will mean that six to eight frigates and missile destroyers and a submarine used as picket will need to be deployed as an escort flotilla for a single carrier. Unless, the Indian Navy grows to have some 300 capital ships, taking away a large fraction of the current naval strength of some 50 capital ships just to protect aircraft carrier assets makes no sense whatsoever, especially as such protection will result in a seriously thinned-out sea presence of the navy even in the proximal waters of the Indian Ocean. With Vikramaditya and Vikrant in the Eastern and the Western Fleets respectively, say, as many 16 surface combatants and two Kilo-class submarines as pickets will instantly become unavailable to the navy for any of a host of other missions in case of hostilities. This to say that deploying carriers will prevent a very large fraction of the naval force from being available for a range of offensive and defensive sea control and sea denial missions.

3) For the cost of a single aircraft carrier, moreover, the Indian Navy could have secured as many as 3-4 each of the multi-purpose frigates, missile destroyers/mine sweepers and diesel submarines, or a mix of any of these war ships. In a time of financial austerity, it makes more sense to augment fleet strength than to induct one or two flashy aircraft carriers.

Serious doubts have begun to be voiced in the US naval quarters and security enclaves generally about the survivability and hence the continued utility about the large 100,000 ton Gerald Ford-class nuclear powered aircraft carriers for many of the same reasons adduced above. But let’s assume the Indian Navy is, in fact, able to protect its carriers as it claims, the question to ask is whether it serves the national security interests better for two aircraft carrier groups to be able to hold sway over two mobile circular areas, each of 250 miles in radius centered on the carriers in the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean, what to speak of the immeasurably vaster oceanic areas of the Indo-Pacific, than a whole bunch of smaller (2-3 ship) flotillas and submarines, singly or in packs, creating hell for adversary navies? The latter is obviously the more cost-efficient and operationally versatile option.

Surely, an objective analysis will show what I long ago concluded that INS Vikramaditya, the new INS Vikrant and the third carrier, INS Vishal (whenever its construction is approved) are high cost sitting ducks ready to be shot up at will by the enemy, and a real all-round liability for the Indian Navy and the country.


Published in the Chanakya Forum, Aug 9, 2021, at

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
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32 Responses to INS Vikrant — a naval liability

  1. Sankar says:

    I could not understand the technicalities of modern warfare as presented here to make the case.
    For example,
    “There are three main negatives of the aircraft carrier, other than their extreme vulnerability, as mentioned. to supersonic and, soon, hypersonic anti-ship cruise missiles” –
    First, all missiles are Supersonic (3 Mach+), so what difference does it make for Hypersonic (9 Mach+)? For a maneuvering target, the “hypersonic” missile is more likely to miss its target than for a supersonic missile, mind you an AC is a moving target in the ocean. In any case, to my information, the hypersonic specification is not for the full flight path of the missile – it cannot be if the seeker’s head has to track its target in the final stage.

    ” …main negatives of the aircraft carrier, other than their extreme vulnerability…” –
    The assumption here is that the AC has been located in the vast sea with “pinpoint accuracy”, apart from other factors, to make it vulnerable. But there could be a big uncertainty here, even for satellite technology, due to the processing of “sea-clutter” in the receiver even forgetting the motion of the ship. In naval warfare finding a ship in the open sea is a huge problem.

    “ballistic and cruise missiles” – to my information these are meant for fixed targets, i.e. land-based missile launching sites, air operation bases, etc., whereas the AC is not.

    “submarines, and submarine-fired heavy torpedoes” – again this does not take into account the noise factor undersea that causes huge doppler-shift for sonar signal processing for the torpedoes to miss their target especially when the target is capable of generating noise. This is an area where the aero-space operation (fighter, interceptors etc.) is radically different from naval warfare – there is no point in drawing an analogy.

    Also, this writeup does not take into account the moving real-estate of the AC in the vast sea which can carry a formidable suite of EW (electronic warfare, such as ECM, ECCM etc.) that could potentially neutralize any missile or air attack, although there is a vague reference made to “situational awareness”.

    “Serious doubts have begun to be voiced in the US naval quarters” – still, the fact remains that the naval air arm of the US is to date vastly bigger than the US Air Force. And that enables the US its power projection muscle internationally in contrast to the Russians (or the erstwhile Soviet Union) who have been incapable to match in this domain.

    • Sunil Kumar says:

      Can you help me understand the liabilities and benefits for India of having ACs, given ours is a defensive posture and we don’t maintain a big expeditionary force.


      • Sankar says:

        As regards “benefits” it is for the Indian Navy to spell it out in clear terms. As a lucky coincidence, the former commander Rao from the Navy has very well cleared it up in his following post here. I agree fully with him from a civilian perspective with a limited understanding of naval warfare. India needs the technological asset of an AC for defending her islands, Andaman, Lakshadweep, and others strewn across the Indian ocean. As I have noted, this platform is the mainstay for power projection for Delhi internationally in the maritime domain. In the 1971 war, the Indian AC played a great role by bombing the Chittagong harbour and setting up a blockade there which denied Pak to bring in their reinforcement troops by ship from Karachi.

        UK and France have islands in the Indian ocean and Pacific and elsewhere. That is why they maintain their ACs. For the UK, her AC played a winning role in the Falklands war. The erstwhile Soviet Union (now Russia) is not a maritime power – they are landlocked, which is why they have not gone for ACs. But they have invested heavily in submarines to protect their Arctic Sea. In fact, in the days of the Soviet Union, the Russians were far ahead of the Americans in acquiring submarine technology. Russian submarines submerged in the Arctic when the water was warm and stayed there during the winter when the water froze around and they could not be detected. They developed unbelievable technology to smash through the ice and surface suddenly unexpected for deterrence. The US did not have that technology. Maybe they have now learned that technology by hiring the Russian experts in military technology once the Soviet Union collapsed, and the Russians went all around Europe to seek employment.

        As for “liability” I do not know how to interpret that term in the context. Of course, it costs huge resources to build and maintain an AC, but that is all I can think about as an imposition on finance. Then again, India spends huge sums on building a new parliament house, ‘for prestige’ bullet trains, items like the Sardar Patel statue that went to China’s pocket etc etc. So I cannot see any problem for spending on ACs.

      • Sankar says:

        Here is a well-researched article where you will get a more comprehensive view of acquiring an AC for India:
        “After INS Vikrant, 5 Reasons Why Indian Navy Needs ‘INS Vishal’, A Third Aircraft Carrier To Deal With China” –
        In my understanding an AC with its escorting ships could be invincible in the naval war in dominating any adversary without an AC. It is very well shielded against missile attacks, although nothing is perfect in an all-out war.

    • Apna says:

      Soviets were not incapable of far ocean warfare – it is just that they were not interested in attacking poor 3rd world nations as the US and UK do.

      On December 10, 1971 at the peak of the India-Pakistan war, Russian intelligence tracked several British warships, led by the aircraft carrier Eagle, moving towards India’s west coast. The advance of the British fleet was aimed at applying pressure on India and lifting Pakistani morale. In response, Moscow despatched the 10th Operative Battle Group of its Pacific Fleet under the command of Admiral Vladimir Kruglyakov. Seeing the Russian ships the British retreated but the threat to India did not go away as the United States sent its Seventh Fleet to show its support for Pakistan.

      To bolster its flotilla in the Bay of Bengal, the Pacific Fleet in Vladivostok sent cruisers, destroyers and nuclear submarines, which encircled the US Seventh Fleet. The Americans backed off and India was able to finish the job of liberating Bangladesh and end the genocide of Bengalis by the Pakistan Army. The US Carrier, ENTERPRISE, and ALL its escort boats with Marines ‘disappeared’ when Soviet submarines surfaced, pointing their missiles at it. Check ‘1971 war: How Russia sank Nixon’s gunboat diplomacy’ on Google. Even the British carrier off Karachi in the Arabian sea fled to Madagascar.

      So quickly we forget, US pressured Russia not to sell cryogenic engines to India and delayed the space progress by a decade. Now they are turning back and pressuring India not to deal with Russia. and we hopelessly still listen to US! When it’s comes to the 5th column and comprador elites, India is an American vassal through and through.

  2. Amit says:

    Aircraft carriers are an area where I have read multiple arguments both supporting or against them. So it looks like different analysts have differing opinions. However, if you examine what countries are actually doing, you get a sense for how serious their arguments are for or against aircraft carriers.

    Apparently, Russia is going with just one AC. And they have invested heavily in missile systems (including hypersonic) to counter US naval power. So that’s clearly a sign against ACs. China talks about having developed hypersonic anti AC missiles to render the US fleet ineffective, but is still considering to build 5-6 carriers – so that is neither here nor there. The US has ~11 ACs including new aircraft carriers – so clearly the US is still in the ‘for’ camp. Other countries don’t seem to be building new ACs – so they seem to be in the ‘against’ camp. The Indian Navy seems to be in the ‘for’ camp.

    I tend to agree with the Professor in terms of what India should do. The Indian economy is still not strong and its limited resources should be used effectively. I have heard arguments about ‘sea control’ versus ‘sea denial’ – one can do the former with more aircraft carriers. But given the state of the Indian economy, maybe India should look at more cost effective ways to dominate the Indian Ocean. I hope the mandarins at the MoD and the Indian Navy make the right decision for India.


    But haven’t they have postponed, for now, the third AC for submarines. There was heavy lobbying for 3rd AC against submaries.

  4. Vidyapati Gautam says:

    Why is India still maintaining/building these white elephants? Prestige? Difficulty in breaking out of the traditions (that any aspiring/rising great powers shall have these hulks) of yore? Inter-Services rivalry in cornering a major chunk of funds allotted to the Defence Ministry?

  5. Sankar says:

    In my previous post, I noted “apart from other factors” which I did not spell out what I meant thereby. Here is the elaboration:

    AC and other big naval ships are often fitted with towed decoys several hundred meters from the platform presenting a false target to an incoming missile. The killer missile is thus hoodwinked away by the decoys. But if it still follows the vessel, there are ‘Gattling guns’ onboard which start firing at the homing missile for “self-protection”. This destroys the attacking missile by a direct hit or the missile flies apart. According to some open source data, in more than 50% of cases, there is success from field trials. Of course, it is very hard to confirm such classified records. But if one goes by that measure naval platforms including ACs could not be that vulnerable.

    This technology of towed decoys does not work for air warfare. The platforms flying such decoys are unstable in-flight motion and the decoys are set to separate from the platform.

  6. Rao says:

    Response to your article from a Naval Veteran ….

    Dear Mr Karnad,

    It is not every day that one feels the urge to respond to your articles, blogs or comments, no matter how provocative they are. However, after reading your latest piece in the Chanakya Forum titled “INS Vikrant – A Naval Liability’’(9 August, 2021), I am persuaded to believe that your piece deserves a response to correct an imbalanced narrative. I have read your magnum opus, “Why is India Not a great Power (Yet)”, and must say that the book is thought provoking though (yet) not fully convincing, at many places. Disagreement of views, however, does not make the book a liability.

    From someone who identifies himself with a rather self-aggrandising description as “India’s Foremost Conservative Strategist”, certainly, a more researched approach was expected. But alas, what we have is a reinforcement of a drivel argument.

    It is not my intention to embark upon a literary mission to bring out the virtues of an aircraft carrier, nor am I keen to contest you on everything you bring out in your critique. I will however, try and disambiguate some tactical notions that you seem to have misrepresented, and suited their flawed understanding to support your argument, to present a one-sided picture to the reader.

    Firstly, aircraft carriers as prized targets in a war. Yes, they are, and would be prized targets, and why not, given what they bring in the battlefield? They offer unparalleled mobility of airpower, their air group complicating the enemy’s operational plans by presenting the factor of uncertainty in the direction from where offensive action could come.

    As we speak, OSINT indicates that a US aircraft carrier (possibly USS Ronald Reagan) is likely operating somewhere in the northern Indian Ocean, engaged in launching regular sorties of strike aircraft to support government forces in Afghanistan. Against an advancing and rampaging Taliban, continual air support by the US is the Afghan government’s, and Afghan National Defence and Security Forces’, only hope. This kind of capability provides the flexibility to the US to reduce “boots on ground” and give “stand-off” support, as per its political decision to proceed with the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

    No other type of ship can provide this kind of flexibility to strategic planners in a crisis scenario. As prized targets of war, therefore, you do to Carriers what you would do to your crown jewels – protect them, and take measures to safeguard them. That’s what the Navies do to their flat-tops, by providing them escorts and planning their voyage in a tactically prudent manner.

    To be sure, aircraft carriers aren’t ‘sitting ducks’ as some tend to make them to be; they have their own integral defence mechanism against incoming missiles and aircraft, and such systems are designed to engage multiple targets simultaneously.

    Secondly, the issue of ‘tying down’ other surface combatant vessels as ‘escorts’. Let us be clear, with or without aircraft carriers as their protective ‘main body’, combatant units of a surface Fleet prefer to manoeuvre as a composite group, for mutual support. Usually, there is a Fleet tanker in company, which is as preciously guarded as the Carrier, for it quenches the ‘thirst’ of all men-o-war. In turns, warships keep an eye and lend an ear with their sensors, with rapt attention, to provide mutual support against intruders and prowlers. Therefore, to say that only because an aircraft carrier is present in the quiver that other destroyers and frigates get drawn in as escorts, is erroneous and misleading.

    Thirdly, the cost factor. Makes an impressionable argument to the uninitiated, only to the point where the weakness in it is exposed with persuasion. This happens when you get into the details of what could one expect to achieve, tactically, by having any number of “multi-purpose” frigates, to replace the role of an aircraft carrier. Last heard, the inquirers haven’t got back!

    Naval platforms are role specific. The argument highlighting the numbers of frigates that can be purchased within the cost of one carrier is as specious as the one which champions buying ten fast interceptor boats within the cost of one frigate. The diverse platforms are not mutually interchangeable, and hence cannot supplant each other for the designed role. Every type of platform has a distinctive role, based on its attributes that can be harnessed in an operational scenario. Naval operations are all about assigning the right platforms for appropriate tasks and missions.

    Fourthly, the doubts by Doubting Thomases in US naval quarters, on utility and survivability of aircraft carriers, which has been alluded to by you in the piece. It bears a mention here that the Carriers in question are the 1,00,000 Tonnes Super Carriers ( _Nimitz_ class) which the US Navy predominantly operates. They are truly gigantic, and far bigger and costlier than the medium size carrier (40,000 tonnes) that IAC1 or INS Vikramaditya is.

    You might be aware that there are over 40 aircraft carriers operated by thirteen navies in the world. They come in various shapes and sizes. India is not alone in aspiring for Carriers. China, the main subject of your conservatism for many years, is building more Carriers after Liaoning, and some estimates point to Beijing’s ambition of building six carriers in the medium term.

    The unfortunate part of your piece is its abject lack of rigour that one would expect from a seasoned analyst. By resting the chunk of the argument on the plank of cost effectiveness, you have eroded whatever little debating value that might have accrued on the merits of size of the platform, composition of air group, type of propulsion etc. For those who have operated at sea know the value of having air power in the theatre of operations. It provides a decisive edge to switch between a defensive to an offensive posture, as per the tempo of operations.

    Be it to defend the nation’s island territories from invasion or encroachment, defence of overseas bases, or carrying the battle in the enemy’s lair in an ultimate calling of his bluff, the role and utility of an aircraft carrier is indispensable. Navies tend to choose its size, air group and propulsion wisely to suit their needs and limitations.

    The true debate surrounding aircraft carriers should centre upon the supplementary capabilities that must be developed with the mainstreaming of such capability – assimilation of new technologies in naval aviation, development of amphibious warfare capabilities and creation of maintenance wherewithal for the new inductions. By flogging an old horse, the game is lost before it is even started – whether Mr Karnad likes it or not, aircraft carriers of friendly and unfriendly disposition are here to stay, for good.


    The author is a Naval Veteran and follows matters maritime very closely.

    • Rao@ — I respect your arguments. This is a blog post for consumption in a few minutes, not a scholarly treatise to mull over a fortnight.

      For a financially strained country the choices are in terms of tradeoffs of sea presence — and not solely in terms of the tactical/strategic value of aircraft carriers. And that’s my main point.

      Your reference to USS Reagan CVN in this context is diversionary and irrelevant. At 100,000 tonnes it carries an air wing with aircraft with range to hit Taliban targets in Afghanistan from North Arabian Sea station. It is not the sort of capability the Indian Navy can aspire to in the forseeable future. The Royal Navy when it contemplated the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers started with the USN notions of very large size before working out the math — every which way — and concluding that carriers in the 36,000 tonne class offer optimum value. They got it up to 65,000 tonne class as compromise! The bulk of the 14 odd countries you mention boast hepter carriers, not the genuine thing. The hepter carrier vs a normal carrier is a separate argument. In any case, these helicopter carrier countries are not in the financial straits India is in.

      My opposition to the carrier is not singular but shared, as you are no doubt aware, by many very reputable naval persons. Chief among them Rear Admiral KC ‘Raja’ Menon (Retd), arguably the finest scholar-sailor the navy has produced to-date. This is an ongoing debate and those pro-carriers will growingly be on the losing side owing to the sea-skimming supersonic/hypersonic guided munitions that will become available to all, even itsy-bitsy navies, making it difficult for large warships, like carriers, to survive. Especially, in an environment dense with space-based and roving surveillance and tracking sensors where the vast oceanic expanses will be of no avail (to “hide” that is). We can adduce all the reasons we want to continue to have carriers in the IN, but cannot avoid the problems with their extreme vulnerability.

      If as you say, you have read my ‘Why India is Not a great Power (Yet)’, you’ll have noticed the tanker-to-warship ratio I brought up to suggest why the IN is far from an effective naval force even in its own Indian Ocean backyard, and in the frigate/destroyer/minesweeper/ conventional subamrine tradeoff mix I should have also included tankers for maintaining a lively and more extensive sea presence than the one we can manage with two aircraft carriers. Moreover, you end up buttressing my point that warships are deployed in small composite packets — for sea presence, presumably, and, therefore, there’d be more such small flotillas roaming the proximal seas, covering more maritime space, than if these are assigned as carrier escort!

      Further, you say you were not persuaded by the ‘Yet’ case I made in my book; that means you believe India is already a Great Power! I’d have expected that as an ex-naval person with military sensibilities grounded in reality, you would be less susceptible to political rhetoric and sloganeering!

      • Sankar says:

        @Professor Karnad:
        I do not understand your point on ” the sea-skimming supersonic/hypersonic guided munitions”. First, as I have noted the towed decoys to neutralize the sea-skimming missiles such as the Exocets or destroy them in flight by onboard guns – there are always counter-measures in technology. It reminds me of the “stealth technology” in air warfare now doing rounds in the Indian corridors which is a misconception of the radar system. There is the “passive radar” for detection of “stealth fighters”, and there has been a huge amount of research undertaken in the US to dispel the myth of “stealth”.

      • Have heard about towed decoys to protect combat aircraft, not ships. The Russian Pantsir (protecting Indian warships) firing some 10,000 rounds/minute and the American Phalanx close-in weapon system work on the Gatling principle, in theory, are supposed to put up a “wall of steel” to defeat incoming cruise missiles. Everything works fine on paper, but against a supersonic/hypersonic maneuvering missile, who knows? Haven’t seen any effectiveness studies anywhere.

    • Amit says:

      @Rao, while you make good arguments for an aircraft carrier, you do not discuss the very real issue of limited resources and the significant shortages the Indian Navy has in its overall fleet (and no Sir, it’s not just a shortage of Frigates!). Apart from the fact that allocating these resources for an aircraft carrier takes away from modernising the IAF and the IA. Have you factored in what capabilities the IAF, IN and IA won’t get if the IN got another carrier?

      Additionally, there are arguments made about leveraging the Andaman Nicobar islands for sea control. Just because China is building more carriers does not mean India has too also. How is Russia managing with one aircraft carrier? How is the UK managing with two? The only two countries who have or plan to have a fleet of ACs are the US and China. Their economies can support that expense.

      There is also an argument made about having a spare while two are out on sea. This is fine during peace time. During war, I can’t imagine a spare sitting in the docks – all assets better be fighting fit and deployed!

      Plus there is the open question of defence of the ACs against hypersonic missiles. You haven’t highlighted why ACs are not sitting ducks. Is it because the anti missile systems in an AC can destroy incoming hypersonic missies with 100% success? Or is it that the AC is hard to target while moving on the seas? Or there are decoys that can fool an incoming missile? Or like you seem to indicate a small carrier is more protected than a super carrier like the Nimitz class? There are no doubt many benefits of having another AC. But strategy is all about the allocation of scarce resources. Given the current state of the Indian economy, there seem to be better alternatives than spending $8-$10B on another AC.

    • Sankar says:

      Sir, could you please orient us on towed decoys in the Indian Navy?

    • Sunil Kumar says:

      Dear Rao,

      Your comments look like argumentum ad hominem and religion wrapped in ostensible logic.

  7. Indian says:

    An aircraft carrier surely helps in peace time and hands-off operations like the ones Americans seen to be doing in Afganisthan. I saw other comments from a retired naval officer to your article. As a common citizen have the follwing questions
    1. Does India envisage hands-off operations in the near future that require such machinery?
    2. Would an aircraft carrier be better able to help India in a war with China than a mix of surface frigates and submarines?

    Once we are self sufficient with surface and sub-surface ships and other ‘smart’ armaments, we can look at these force multipliers. I definitely think there is scope for carriers, but, our current financial resources and security strategy won’t allow it.

  8. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    Off the topic but critical situation;

    The Afghan government or whatever remains of it should immediately surrender to Taliban.

    There is no way the Afghan authorities can withstand the rampage of Taliban.

    No foreign country is going to send its forces to fight the Taliban on behalf of the Afghanistan government.

    The medieval minded Taliban will stop all girls/women from attending schools, colleges and treat them as mere child producing machines.

    Men will have to pay Taliban to stay alive whether it is worth living under Taliban rule is a serious question for the Afghan masses to ponder.

  9. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    A few excerpts from the aforesaid;

    While the authors have pieced together the anecdotes in the book from talking to several high-profile serving and retired spies, their main sources are two lesser-known, mid-level ex-officers, one in the ISI and the other R&AW. The ISI officer, identified by his nom de guerre ‘Major Iftikhar’, is supposed to have taken part in several ISI operations, including in Kashmir, before going rogue.

    The former R&AW officer, identified as ‘Monisha’, too got disillusioned by the agency she served and is now settled in the US, the authors write.

    The book quotes Monisha as saying, “I was unable to get traction in Lodhi Road [R&AW]… What mattered was whether India bothered to develop the intelligence from GCHQ and the NSA before the raid. Or did we fail, through laziness, or – worse still – by intent?”

    The last sentence above implies that 26/11 could have been an inside job. No prizes for guessing the name of the Indian false flag operational head. He is an ex bureaucrat and is Modi’s favorite.

  10. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    The Afghan government and the Taliban were trading blame over the issue of “seriousness” for peace talks at the extended troika meeting attended by diplomats from China, Russia, Pakistan and the US, which kicked off in Doha, Qatar on Wednesday. 

    Nothing will come out of this or any other meeting. It’s just a matter of time (anywhere between 1-2 months) before Kabul will be under Taliban rule.

    The main point from the above newslink is that India isn’t even a part of these so called peace talks.

    It says enough about the country’s insignificance and zero clout in international affairs.

    Modi should go and hug the head of Taliban 😆 to gain some traction in that country. How can anyone ignore the one and only “Vishvguru”

  11. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    It’s crystal clear now that Imran Khan is the official spokesperson for the Taliban.

    Ashraf Ghani’s days are numbered. Very soon he will run away from Afghanistan and claim asylum in a Western country.

    Pakistan will be happy with Taliban in power. Pakistani leadership will claim huge funds from China as well as USA to keep the Yankees as well as the Chinese safe from the Taliban.

    China has an excellent opportunity to get all the infrastructure in Afghanistan destroyed by the Taliban. The reconstruction contracts for those will be bagged by the Chinese firms.

    Modi government will use these developments to stage a few false flag attacks in India close to elections. BJP can therefore easily polarize Hindu-Muslims in India and continue to stay in power.

  12. Sankar says:

    @Professor Karnad:
    To my information, the US Navy has fitted “Nulka” towed decoys in some of their surface ships in recent times. As I have noted, such decoys are a retrograde step for fighter interceptors since their maneuverability is compromised in action. In fact, in air warfare chaff is superior to decoy – chaff is a decoy fundamentally. The anti-ship missiles are sea-skimming only at the final stage of their kill – their flight path is otherwise high up from the water like that of Exocets. In some reports from the recent Syrian war, the Russian electronic counter-measures placed way behind the Iranian-Syrian forces and operated by Russian personnel, have successfully deflected all the anti-tank missiles fired by the forces of ISIS and other Jihadis against the Iranian-Syrian ground forces on armoured vehicles.


    Dear Mr Karnad,

    Again slightly off topic. Pakistan and China has started blaming India and Afghanistan behind the Dasu attack that killed Chinese and Pakistani engineers a month back.

    What do you think is behind this ? What can Pakistan and China do to counter India here?

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Debanjan Banerjee- China can throw some money at Taliban and ask them to destroy all projects in Afghanistan built by India’s assistance.

      The Chinese companies can get the contracts for rebuilding of those structures.

      This is the same model which the Americans used in Iraq after heavily bombing and destroying Iraqi infrastructure.

      India can continue sabotaging Chinese investments and projects in CPEC.

      This is Geo-politics. A sport without any rules/regulations.

      As said by Mamta Banerjee “Khela hobe”

  14. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    As if it makes any difference to the Taliban.

    China & Pakistan will recognize the Taliban regime.

  15. S Paldas says:

    The picture is the INS Vikramaditya! Neither is it the erstwhile Vikrant! Can we have a snap of the IAC please?

  16. P.fowler says:

    Very true. With the advent of UCAVs on carriers,Turkey already fielding its drones one flat top, the size of conventional carriers will come down. Having greater numbers of smaller flat tops with flush deck VLS missile silos, equipped with small flights of aircraft,multi-room haelos and UCAVs,dispersing one’s capabilities will ensure greater survivability and combined strike capability. The archaic design concepts of DDGs and CGs of 10K t and above should instead give way to flat top surface combatants as described above.

    Smaller heavily armed corvettes like Russian Buyan-Ms,etc. armed with Kalibir class missiles, can be acquired in greater number than the cost of a large 8,000t FFG/ DDG. But the real need of the hour is a much larger submarine force of conventional AIP subs for the IOR and its littorals ,supported by several SSGN/SSNs, able to operate outside the IOR ,taking the battle into the enemy’s backyard. We will in this decade see PLAN subs on permanent deployment in the IOR operating from Gwadar, Djibouti,and possible Sri Lanka and Tanzania on the E.African coast.A total of around 36 to 48 subs is what is required for meeting future challenges, NOT large ultra-expensive sitting-duck carriers and their escorts! We have our ” unsinkable” CVs too.INS India,INS A&N, and INS Lakshadweep. Also operating a dozen TU-22M3M supersonic Backfires equipped with large payloads of supersonic long range anti-ship/land attack missiles could create havoc with the enemy’s own CBGs and flotilla attempting to ingress into the IOR. A few Backfires can carry the same amount of Brahmos and other ASMs than an entire squadron of MKIs!

    It appears that the IN has cohabited far too long with the USN who view the IN as naval cannon fodder in any spat with the PLAN. It has been partly brainwashed into lusting after carriers instead of subs .It would do the IN good to re-examine the Battle of the Atlantic and see how many assets were required by the allies to prosecute just one sub. Had the German code not been broken,making it easier for the RN to locate German U-boats, the battle would’ve gone Germany’s way. China has understood this very well,why it is to possess a fleet of around 80 subs and Pak another dozen. Imagine the plight of of our carriers in the future!

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