India keeps a close watch on various Chinese military and research vessels in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar said on Saturday.
Addressing a press conference ahead of Navy Day, he said Chinese ships including those under the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, research and fishing vessels operate in the IOR. “There are a lot of Chinese ships which operate in the Indian Ocean Region. We have about 4-6 PLA Navy ships, then some research vessels which operate. A large number of Chinese fishing vessels operate in the Indian Ocean Region. We keep a close watch on all developments," he said.
Speaking on the maritime security situation, he said nearly 60 other extra-regional forces are always present in the Indian Ocean Region. “We are aware it is a vital region where there’s a large amount of trade transits and energy flow happens. Our job is to see that India’s interests in the maritime domain are protected," he said.
The statement came as Chinese spy ship Yuan Wang 5 is likely to head towards the IOR, ahead of a possible missile test to be conducted by India later this month. India has issued a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) area warning in the Sea of Andaman for about 5000 kms for December 15 and December 16.
The spy ship which China claims to be a research vessel entered the IOR in November indicating Beijing’s rising assertiveness in the region. Yuan Wang 5 was also the subject of diplomatic tussle between India and Sri Lanka over allowing the ship to be docked at the Hambantota port.
According to the Pentagon, Yuan Wang 5 is capable of tracking missiles and rockets launched and can itself also help launch missiles. Spy ships like Yuan Wang 5 pose threats to power installations, space stations and nuclear plants, as it takes information regarding them and sends them to the Chinese PLA.
The Indian Navy has been bolstering its surveillance mechanism to monitor growing Chinese activities, including frequent forays by PLA warships in the Indian Ocean Region.
Naval Chief also said the proposed procurement of 30 MQ-9B Predator armed drones at a cost of over USD 3 billion from the US is under process. The fleet is a shot in the arm for India’s surveillance apparatus along the frontier with China as well as in the Indian Ocean region.
The procurement proposal for the armed drones has been moved by the Indian Navy and all three services are likely to get 10 drones each. The drone is the first hunter-killer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for long-endurance and high-altitude surveillance.
(With inputs from ANI, PTI)
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