"The figures are dynamic. But the aim now is to have at least 175 warships — if not 200 — by 2035 for credible strategic reach, mobility and flexibility in the IOR and beyond. There will have to be a concomitant increase in the number of fighters, aircraft, helicopters and drones,” a source told the publication.
It is impossible to overlook China's increasing maritime menace. In order to increase its presence in the IOR and the greater Indo-Pacific, the People's Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) is actively looking for more overseas facilities after Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, Karachi and Gwadar in Pakistan, and now maybe Ream in Cambodia.
“China has inducted as many as 150 warships over the last 10 years. Projections show the PLAN may well reach 555 warships in another five-six years. Chinese aircraft carriers will also begin to operate in the IOR by then,” an officer was quoted as saying by TOI.
The Indian Navy, on the other hand, has yet to receive even the preliminary approval for the building of a third aircraft carrier, which will take more than ten years to complete. Instead of a more powerful and economical 65,000-tonne carrier, the argument is now being made for a smaller 45,000-tonne "repeat order" of INS Vikrant, which is still months away from being combat-ready after being commissioned a year ago.