Leadership: The Indo-Chinese War At Sea

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July 22, 2008: Chinese and Indian naval strategies are different. While both are building new surface warships (nine for India in the last ten years, and 17 for China), the Chinese are ahead when it comes to nuclear subs (with two new SSNs and two new SSBNs in the last decade, plus even more non-nuclear boats). India, however, is putting more emphasis on aircraft carriers, with one in service, and three new ones on the way. China is planning at least one carrier, but it will have to spend years developing crews that can handle carrier ops effectively. India has long since mastered those skills.

India is building more subs, but not as many as China. While the Chinese try to develop their own submarine technology, India is much more willing to obtain superior foreign technology (mostly from the West, but some Russian stuff as well.)

These differences in fleet composition worry the Indians. By putting more emphasis on subs, China is building a force that has a better chance of invading the Indian Ocean and threatening Indian control of those waters. Surface ships would be too vulnerable to land based aircraft and missiles, and do not pose the same kind of threat as subs.

Indian subs could not deliver the same kind of threat to Chinese coastal waters. But the new Scorpene boats might, because they can stay under water for weeks at a time, might (at least in a limited way, as only six of these boats are on order). Such a submarine offensive is a highly theoretical threat, who do not have the same imperial ambitions they believe the Chinese possess.

 


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