New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Since May last year, India and China have been engaged in a standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. The tensions between the two Asian giants had reached an all-time high last year following the deadly Galwan Valley clash where 20 Indian soldiers, including a Colonel-rank officer, lost their lives.

The tremors of the increasing tensions were not only felt in eastern Ladakh, but also in the Indian ocean where navies of India and China increased their presence to counter each other. While Beijing continues to be aggressive, the Indian Navy has decided to enhance its surveillance capabilities to counter the Chinese threat in the Indian ocean.

According to a report by news agency PTI, the Indian Navy is planning to acquire a "sizeable number of unmanned aerial and underwater platforms" in the next few years to enhance its surveillance capabilities. The report, quoting sources, claimed that the Navy would primarily buy acquire the unmanned platforms within India.

"The roadmap delves into the requirement of unmanned platforms and provides a direction to meet the demand while ensuring the optimum utilisation of the resources," the PTI sources said. "The key focus will be to boost the surveillance in the strategically key waterways, in sync with developments in the Indian Ocean region".

The sources told PTI that the Navy wants to enhance its capabilities in the areas of long-range anti-submarine warfare (ASW), surveillance and reconnaissance. They said that a third aircraft carrier is set to be designed to "accommodate both fighter jets and a fleet of drones".

30 multi-mission armed Predator long-endurance drones, which will be armed with air-to-ground missiles, will also be procured by the Indian Navy soon, the PTI sources said. Interestingly, the Indian Navy had received two non-weaponised Predator drones from the United States (US) last year on lease.

The drones, which are manufactured by US defence major General Atomics, can stay in the air for nearly 35 hours to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance. They are also capable of destroying enemy targets if fitted with arms.

Meanwhile, the Indian Navy had also sealed a USD 2.6 billion deal with the US in February last year to procure 24 MH-60 Romeo helicopters for surveillance and reconnaissance operations. The delivery of the helicopters, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, has already begun.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma