From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 3- Quad needs naval heft
The article suggests projection of naval power to ensure the stability in the Indian Ocean.
Quad conducts Malabar exercise
- In November, the Quad converged to continue the Malabar series, with a total of just eight ships.
- The idea of Quad is to form a grouping of democratic nations in the Indian Ocean, and use naval power to convey a message to Beijing.
- The message a grouping of eight ships would convey to a nation thinking in terms of five aircraft carriers remains would not be taken seriously.
Importance of naval power in ensuring oceanic stability
- There is no substitute for naval power to ensure oceanic stability, but one alternative lies in the area of Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA).
- Perhaps, some thought may already have been given to MDA in the twin agreement to BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement), and Maritime Information Sharing Technical Agreement (MISTA) signed between India and the US.
- There is little information available in the public domain about MISTA.
- But MISTA should cover an omnibus agreement for Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) operating and information sharing for the entire Indo-Pacific.
- The Pacific has a high density of MPA assets, while they are sparse in the Indian Ocean, particularly the western Indian Ocean.
- The Australians can cover the Malacca Straits, but for the west Indian Ocean, the US will probably have to base a squadron of P-8 aircraft at Masirah or Diego Garcia.
- Today, the primary weapon system of most warships is the surface-to-surface missile, with ranges of up to 200 km.
- The ships’ sensor range is only up to 100 km.
- So, accurate target information has to be supplied beyond 100 km by aircraft or helicopters in what is called Over the Horizon Targeting (OTHT).
- With the Indo-Pacific fully covered by the MPAs of the Quad, a PLAN ship in the Indian Ocean is in imminent danger of being sunk at will
A public announcement of a division of the Indo-Pacific into areas of responsibility for MDA, between members of the Quad will send an unmistakable signal to Beijing. With a desultory Quad naval exercise, once a year of a few ships, Beijing will only be amused that a “threat” exists to its ambition to become a global power.