Karambir Singh
Indian Chief of Naval Staff Karambir Singh.IANS

A day after China released a defence white paper, the Indian Navy chief warned of increasing Chinese military might as well as its widening naval footprint in the Indian Ocean Region.

"They have been shifting a lot of resources from other arms to the navy in line with the target of becoming a global power. We have to watch that carefully and see how we respond within our budget and constraints," said Admiral Karambir Singh. He said this on the sidelines of 'International Seminar on Nation Building through Shipbuilding' in New Delhi.

The white paper titled 'China's National Defence in the New Era',  released on Wednesday, stated that the Chinese military expenditure increased by 9.42 percent between 2012 and 2017. International think-tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) also ranked China as the second-largest spender on defence. The US topped the list with a military expenditure of $250 billion in 2018.

Navy's Make in India

On the issue of India's defence expenditure, which stood at $66.5 billion in 2018, the Navy chief said: "We require long-term fiscal support to build a Navy."

He also revealed that the Indian Navy is considering building its third aircraft carrier. He described the project to build a 65,000-tonne military vessel with electric propulsion and a catapult assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) so that "if we have three aircraft carriers we can have two operational at any given time".

He also said that India's first indigenous-made aircraft carrier INS Vikrant entered its final phase of construction and is likely to begin sea trials in 2020.

INS Vikrant in construction
India is building its first indigenous aircraft carrier in Cochin.Twitter/SpokespersonMoD

The Navy chief said that it is important to build up an ecosystem and get transfer of technology to enhance indigenously-made defence requirements.

On the second day of the seminar on Friday, July 26, Admiral Karambir Singh said Navy has been encouraging indigenous shipbuilding for 50 years before the Make in India became a national mission. 

"More than 60 percent of the naval budget is dedicated to capital expenditure and nearly 70 percent of this capital budget has been spent on indigenous sourcing amounting to nearly Rs 66,000 crore in the last five years", he said. 

"Of the total 51 ships and submarines on order at various shipyards as on date, 49 are being constructed indigenously," he noted.

He further said: "Nearly, 90 percent of ship repair by value is undertaken by Indian vendors and mostly MSMEs, implying that in addition to the capital budget a high proportion of navy's revenue budget is also being ploughed back into the economy," reported news portal Capital Market.