INS Vikramaditya
India’s development of the INS Vikramaditya has been plagued with delays. Meanwhile, China have once again asserted its dominance as they prepare to launch the nation’s second domestic aircraft carrier.

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) – The launch of China’s second aircraft carrier, expected as soon as this week, will be received by the Indian government as an important reminder of just how far behind the pack it has fallen.

The “Type 001A” – likely to be named the “Shandong” – will give China an edge for the first time in the carrier race with its Asian rival, a literal two-to-one advantage.

After the decommissioning of the INS Viraat earlier this year, the Indian Navy is down to a single carrier, INS Vikramaditya. Adding insult to injury, China built the Shandong at the country’s own shipyard; the Vikramaditya is merely a repurposed 1980s-era Russian carrier formerly known as the Admiral Gorshkov.

More telling is what China’s progress says about India’s ability to provide security in its own backyard. Chinese naval strategists have open designs on the Indian Ocean. “China needs two carrier strike groups in the West Pacific Ocean and two in the Indian Ocean,” one naval strategist said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has spoken at great length about revitalizing the Indian military; it’s opened the defense sector up to greater foreign investment and is building a much-closer relationship with the U.S. military, largely with China in mind.

But spending has lagged, extremely. Worse, successive governments simply don’t seem to have thought through where best to direct those scarce resources.

For its part, the Indian navy has bought-in completely on a strategy that emphasizes carrier battle groups. The idea? India must dominate the waters that bear the country’s name and needs carriers in order to project power well beyond its shores. As a result, it wasted far too much time and treasure on the Admiral Gorshkov, which arrived from Russia six years late and at three times the cost that had initially been promised.

India’s tireless efforts to develop a homemade carrier have proven fruitless. One of the main reasons being the lack of resources such as polyurethanes needed to build the carrier. The Navy plans to name, commission and float the INS Vikrant next year. At that point, the ship reportedly won’t have its aviation complex in place, or even anti-aircraft missiles. India’s Navy has, curiously, refused to purchase the domestically-developed indigenous light fighter, the Tejas, saying it’s too heavy. This comes simultaneous to the MiG-29 being used, which, according to India’s government auditor; more than 60 percent of their engines were withdrawn from service or rejected in just four years.

The Vikrant will only be properly combat-ready by 2023 — eight years behind schedule.

No one expects India to match China’s defense spending budget in a head-to-head battle; China’s economy is four times the size of India’s; not surprisingly, its defense budget is at least three times larger.

India’s carrier-first strategy has drained the Navy of resources and left it with just 13 conventional submarines in service. Eleven of those are more than a quarter-century old. The two new ones, amazingly, were commissioned and sent out to wander the deep sea without their main armament, torpedoes. India have also not tried to match China’s numerical superiority — 70 to 15 — in terms of submarines with specialized anti-submarine weaponry, including helicopters.

India’s largest problem is not a shortage of money; it’s more a lack of forethought and political courage. Carriers are big and showy, and bolster national pride; diesel submarines don’t.