'India eyes mega-Navy spend - $50 bn'

India is to invest USD 46.96 billion as part of moves to boost up its naval forces over the next 20 years adding 101 new warships, ranging from sophisticated destroyers to nuclear submarines.

"Going by the investment value, India is expected to build sophisticated destroyers, new generation and new radar vessels, nuclear submarines, and amphibious ships," Naval analyst Bob Nugent and vice president of the United States-based AMI International, said here today.

Speaking at a pre-event press conference for the International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference to be held here for May 18 to 20, the international expert said that Indian investments in surface and under sea platforms would be double that of China, which was spending USD 23.99 billion to build 113 war vessels.

While, Indian naval programme would be focused on building nuclear submarines, the Chinese thrust would be on building an aircraft carrier.

India, he said was looking at building compact hi-speed and hi-tech warships, the analyst said, that Indian shipyards were in the process of completing hi-speed coastal boats to prevent Mumbai type terror attacks from the sea.

He said, that Indian naval shipyards were already operating its full capacity, raising the risk of ship building programmes running short of local yard space.

He cited that the first casualty could be India's ambitions to build six French Scorpene submarines, adding that this order could be reduced from six to three due to limited yardspace.

Maritime experts said, that India's expenditure on warship building could account for as much as 27.8 per cent of the total investment in Asia-Pacific.

They said, that India and China naval buildup programme would outstrip that of non-NATO and even Russian investments.

Other major naval investors in Asia-Pacific would include Australia - USD 14 billion, Indonesia - USD 7 billion, Taiwan USD 16 billion, Pakistan USD 2.85 billion and Singapore USD 1.74 billion.

Backing his confident in the Indian investment on naval ships, he pointed out that India have built and or was in the process of completing 100 coastal boats.

Nugent stressed that the high dollar investments for each country showed the high-end naval vessels to be built in the coming years though the number of units might be small.

He said the region was already rated as the world's leading investor in the naval vessels, with 340 units, worth USD 69.1 billion, being built or to be completed over the next three years.

A further 193 naval vessels, costing USD 71 billion, were planned to be built between 2014 and 2019 in the region, he said. Nugent estimated that the region would build 236 naval vessels, an investment of USD 28.2 billion, in 2020-2030.

The large scale Asia Pacific investment on the naval ships puts the region in second place behind the United States, which is to invest USD 280 billion on 505 vessels over the next 20 years.

But Asia Pacific was ahead of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). NATO is to invest USD 153.3 billion on 581 vessels over the same 20 year period, lower than Asia Pacific's combined USD 168.3 billion investment on 769 vessels.

According to Nugent, there was no regional "Naval Arms Races" unfolding so far, and the investment from each country would depend on the respective economic growths.

Comparatively, the Caribbean and Latin American region would invest USD 24.8 billion on 292 vessels over the next 20 years, the Middle East and North Africa USD 38.2 billion on 453 vessels, Non-NATO Europe USD 8.8 billion on 61 vessels, Russia USD 22.1 billion on 84 vessels, and Sub-Sahara Africa USD 3.1 billion on 41 vessels.

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