17:37 GMT25 May 2020
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    Experts opine that China's underwater surveillance network would definitely boost its overall maritime strength but not much in the Indian Ocean. This is because India has already adopted mission-based deployments at key points in the Indian Ocean and also has a center dedicated to analysis of oceanographic data.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — China has developed a new underwater surveillance network which helps in tracking enemy vessels more accurately as well as improves navigation and positioning along the maritime Silk Road, from the Korean peninsula to the east coast of Africa. The project "is part of an unprecedented military expansion fueled by Beijing's desire to challenge the United States in the world's oceans," the South China Morning Post reported.

    The system is based on a network of platforms — buoys, surface vessels, satellites and underwater gliders — that gather data from the South China Sea, the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean; the technical briefing posted on China's Institute of Oceanology's website reads.

    Chinese researchers have also developed a powerful onboard forecasting system for submarines which will predict water conditions in the absence of satellites or ground-based station data. This will provide the much-needed data to the submarines without them having to surface for weeks or even months at a time.

    "Our system can help tip the balance of power in these (Western Pacific, the Indian Ocean & South China Sea) regions in China's favor," Yu Yongqiang, a member of the expert panel overseeing China's global underwater surveillance network, said.

    More than 80% of China's energy imports are made through the Indian Ocean and, of late, the Indian Navy has strengthened its presence and surveillance in the Ocean's key region against the backdrop of an increased presence of Chinese submarines, which China claims is for anti-piracy purposes.

    A former officer of the Indian Navy agrees that China's underwater surveillance network would definitely boost the maritime strength of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

    "Ocean Temperature and salinity play a key role in the assessment of Sonar range. Hence, the oceanographic database of these measurements has operational significance for both submarines and anti-submarine warfare ships," Commodore Abhay Kumar Singh (Retd), research fellow at the Delhi based Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses (IDSA) told Sputnik.

    Nevertheless, the Indian Navy has reexamined its deployment philosophy and has operationalized a mission-based deployment approach, with ships being deployed permanently to the Andaman Sea, the mouth of the Malacca Strait, besides the Bay of Bengal and the Strait of Lombok. China's submarine deployments are monitored every 24 or 48 hours with maritime patrol aircraft locating the surface support ships.

    Furthermore, India's National Institute of Oceanography, Goa conducts multidisciplinary oceanographic research, which includes temperature and salinity mapping.

    "[The] Indian Navy has research institutions for oceanographic data prediction and analyses for operational use of such oceanographic data by ships and submarines," Singh said, refuting claims of any threat to India posed by China's underwater surveillance network.


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