Tuesday, January 1, 2019

US Navy Cooperation With India

One of the potential allies in confronting and containing China is India.  For reasons I am at a complete loss to explain, the US has not pursued cooperation with India in any significant way, that I’m aware of.  I’m also unaware of any serious obstacles to enhanced cooperation either.  In other words, we ought to be seeking greater cooperation with India and yet we seem to have little interest in doing so, despite the obvious strategic and geopolitical benefits.  The US and India conduct occasional exercises together but the interactions appear limited and I’m unaware of significant diplomatic interactions, either.  To be fair, I do not follow the political aspects too closely and it is possible that more is occurring than I’m aware of.  If so, however, it is not making any of the news sources that I frequent.

An example of the limited interaction is an Oct 2018 exercise between the US and India involving a single US P-8 Poseidon which conducted anti-submarine exercises with India. (2)  Given that India has bought a few P-8s, this may have been more of a sales PR effort than an actual military exercise.

Recently, however, the Navy has engaged in some limited interactions with India beyond the handful of formal, staged events such as RIMPAC.

USS Anchorage (LPD-23), with elements of 13th MEU embarked, conducted a port visit to Visakhapatnam, India, followed by some at sea cross training.  The visit and training consisted of the typical assortment of professional exchanges with Indian naval counterparts, humanitarian assistance operations, and cross deck helo operations.

USS Anchorage

China is aggressively courting countries around the world in a bid to strengthen their global position.  The US, on the other hand, is almost ignoring potential allies in the Chinese region as well as around the world.  We need to recognize and admit that we are at war with China and start fighting back or we’ll find ourselves losers without ever contesting the issue – as happened when we sat back and watched China annex the South/East China Seas.

Our reluctance to strengthen relations with India is perplexing.  We need to correct that.


(1)Commander, US Pacific Fleet website, MC3 Ryan M. Breeden, 27-Dec-2018,

(2)The Times of India website, “US Navy, Indian Navy undertake anti-submarine exercises in Arabian Sea”, Newton Sequeira, 24-Oct-2018,


  1. It takes two to tango. India has a long history of not being a an ally (or enemy) of the US - the whole non aligned thing.

    The US did take a big step in try to alter that fact in 2008 by basically deciding to reopen civilian nuclear cooperation even though India is technically in violation of the nuclear non proliferation treaty. In other words the we decided meh, they are a nuclear power and we don't care.

    India has some issues with China about a few bits of boarder that are not really prime property, but what else?
    As long has the Forever Global War on Terror means the US is still pretending to be friends with Pakistan, warming relations with India will be hard.

    There is a cooperation group with Japan and Australia India and the US about open seas and commerce etc. But I think China would to be more openly provocative toward Indian interests a sea to real make them bite a military cooperation with eh US.

    1. I have no idea what India's views of the US are or what, if anything, they want from the US. However, I know what could benefit us and, therefore, it's our job to engage with India in pursuit of our objectives. Hopefully, we'll find that there are things India wants from us and could benefit from (weapons procurement, for one thing - their system is more broken than ours!).

      China is pushing into the Indian Ocean and India views that as theirs just as China views the E/S China Seas as theirs. I would think this would be an alarming development for India and warrant possible alignment with the US.

      It's the job of diplomacy to find common ground but we seem largely uninterested in doing so despite the obvious potential benefits.

    2. "It's the job of diplomacy to find common ground but we seem largely uninterested in doing so despite the obvious potential benefits."

      Again I not so sure. We took a big step in waving away decades of frostiness about nuclear issues, and got not much in return. India has a long tradition of standing aside from the US and I'm not sure that unless China does something really crass (in Indian eyes)US diplomacy can put them in our corner.

      I'm not saying we should not try. I mean realistically I would rather be tied at the hip to the largest democracy in the world for all of it faults than China, but I think history is difficult to alter. I'm just not sure that the politicos in India see China as enough of the threat to move to embrace the US over non alignment.

    3. I don't pretend to know India's thinking about international politics. Perhaps there's nothing the US can do that would yield positive results but, on the other hand, a persistent effort to find even small positive interactions can only benefit both parties. China is in the process of driving away all other countries and will eventually alienate India. They're already well on their way. The Chinese base in Sri Lanka really irritated and alarmed the Indians, for example. Chinese naval incursions into the Indian Ocean are not being well received and will continue to anger India. If we make consistent diplomatic efforts we will eventually be in a good position when China inevitably takes a step too far with India.

    4. " The Chinese base in Sri Lanka really irritated and alarmed the Indians, for example."

      Well its not a base yet... But it is a case study the US State department should be talking about in any third world country or richer at the end of every meeting with any foreign official (like Cato and Carthago delenda est)

      Good read here


      But since the US bans outright bribery and does not turn a blind eye to people skimming off projects It seem difficult to compete with China

      China did same move snapping up the Piraeus from Greece when it was having its debt crisis. Same debt trap and funny thing now run by China the locals are pushed out for imported labor from China so you don't even get jobs.

    5. "Well its not a base yet"

      I posted on this. The Chinese have already had military vessels use this as a base, in violation of the lease arrangement. If you think the Chinese won't turn this into a full fledged base over time, you're kidding yourself!

      You're quite right that the US does not conduct business the way China does but that very fact offers a selling point that benefits the buyer - we won't screw the buyer like the Chinese will. That 'weakness' of ours is actually a strength.

      There is no reason we couldn't have presented Sri Lanka with a competing deal and more favorable terms. That's what I mean about confronting the Chinese on every front. We need to contest every move they attempt to make. Sometimes we'll succeed, sometimes not but we have to start competing or we'll lose by default, as is happening now.

  2. U.S. wants India to cut ties with Russia which is unreasonable for them given their long ties and their long running policy of being non-aligned.

    Sanctions that hit them for buying Russian weapons and Iranian oil didn't help matters.

    We need to decide what's a bigger threat. China, Iran or Russia if we want deeper ties.

    1. "We need to decide what's a bigger threat. China, Iran or Russia if we want deeper ties."

      Absolutely and, clearly, China is the major threat. We need to be building alliances against them.

  3. They have just removed an Indian character off the Simpsons, maybe it is a first move.

  4. (1 of 2)

    Not a particularly close follower of Indian politics either, but here's a few things I am aware of that are currently limiting the growth of the US-India military relationship:

    1. Getting into a new war:

    1a. "We need to recognize and admit that we are at war with China and start fighting back or we’ll find ourselves losers without ever contesting the issue"

    1b. While you, I, and every other American patriot see this as a problem that we must and shall resolve, India sees it simply as a problem that we have yet to resolve. We're on a path to war with China and the outcome is uncertain; what's more, it's unlikely to fall in our favor with our current military, economic, and diplomatic readiness (Europe isn't even on board with the Trade War, never mind a shooting war) level for a high-end China conflict. Without some unfounded faith in the USA's ability to fix our current issues, we don't look like a safe bet.

    1c. India is *not* on a path to war with China, at least not yet. There are tensions between the two, and if either side upsets the status quo too significantly (by a major provocation on the contested border, or... say, allying with the USA) it would set them on that path, but there isn't the sense of inevitability in their government that there will be a(n) (armed) conflict with China; their strategic doctrine doesn't encourage it (see #3)

    2. Domestic Politics: Hindu nationalism (the political lifeblood of the current regime) sits well with certain political factions in the USA, but not so well with our historic preferences for our allies' politics. We probably agree that this shouldn't be an issue unless there's pretty serious human rights violations (like genocide, not a few hundred thousand political prisoners), just as the undesirable policies in Turkey and the Philippines shouldn't rule out a close security relationship with those countries. Unfortunately, domestic politics (particularly the politicians who find their moderate human rights issues too politically problematic) is very likely to keep getting in our way here.

    (1 of 2)

    1. 3. Stragetic Implications of alliance:

      3a. There's no guarantee for India that an alliance won't drive Pakistan and China into a tight(er) embrace and degrade India's security. Even if it does not, their security isn’t improved much by a US alliance; we're already likely to intervene in any nuclear exchange where Pakistan or China strike first, and their conventional forces and geography are sufficient to counter any meaningful conventional attack by either of their two regional rivals, or both as long as China has to maintain military reserves on their coast to counter the USA.

      3b. Whether we believe they should or not, most nuclear states appear to operate on the presumption that any conflict worth risking warships in will be worth using tactical nuclear weapons in - especially to stalemate if you lose most of your fleet and have to even the score. Lacking a realistic counter to tactical nuclear weapons in a conflict near China, USN would be limited to a standoff-range blockade unless we're willing to engage in strategic nuclear counterforce. Scenarios and wargames I've run, seen others run, and read about in Strategic Studies Quarterly all show that we can confidently penetrate northeast China and destroy >80% of their TEL ICBMs and intercept the rest with various ABM systems if we prioritize them and the PLA is at a low/moderate readiness level. In a well-executed attack, we can also use doctrine and C4ISTAR assets to cue the B2/ALCM/SLBM attack very shortly after USN SSNs neutralize PLAN SSBNs. However, these scenarios end with 40-70% reduction in PLA IRBM and SRBM arsenal in well executed strikes, and the remainder could saturate ABM systems and regional targets. China likely responds to the attack with a combined counterforce/countervalue nuclear strike on stationary naval bases, air bases, and "industrial centers" nearly immediately, then starts to look for the US fleet. The PLAN likely fails to find US CVBGs and SSxNs because it is seriously degraded, after which the USA might actually find itself with a military "victory" if it continues to use its fleet and strategic forces effectively. The side effect is that China executes a regional second strike, and all the USA's allies (India?) suffer tremendously even if mainland USA is untouched.

      3c. The USA’s realistic military objectives are (1) maintain and develop our capabilities for the future, (2) prepare for a first strike repeatedly and execute it the first time it looks as good as the optimistic wargrames, and/or (3) blockade China, and it is interested in all three of these if possible. India is interested in (1), Very Averse to (2), and ambivalent about (3). India's short-term strategic goal of independent strategic security is satisfied by its geography and its conventional and nuclear forces. Its long-term strategic goals seem to be focused on industrialization and modernization to maintain its strategic independence with little security assistance aside from some joint development programs.

      4. Limited Common Interests:

      4a. The USA should engage in joint development programs of modern weapons with India to begin to cultivate the relationship, this is one of the few things which they value besides trade that we can offer them. There’s a bit of a mismatch in our unfilled requirements, but there is common ground.

      4b. Said mismatch could be an opportunity for reciprocal sales of F-35, BrahMOS, and other complimentary platforms/requirements, but unfortunately our network-centric systems would require significant changes to be useful for India, and their systems would have to be modified to work with ours at a significant price.

      4b. India and its growing air force and navy may also make an excellent partner for Fleet Problem type war games. However, doing this at a moderate or large scale is a major step towards alliance-building, and India would likely be wary of the signal sent by this even if there were a lot to gain.

      (2 of 2)

    2. Very well presented position. I'm doubtful about some aspects but I honestly don't know enough about India's views to offer any meaningful support or disagreement. My point is not that we must become best buddies with India by the end of 2019 but that we should be working consistently to make any gains that we can. It's the consistent interactions and attempts that we seem to be lacking, as far as I can tell. We're not even making the effort.

      As you note, weapons is one area where India might well welcome US relations. The history of India-Russia weapons purchases is pretty poor from what I've seen. Even if we had to develop some 'simpler' weapons for export, it might well be worth it.

    3. It is interesting to note that India has bought some US military systems BUT not really offensive ones: C-17, CH47 and P-8As, just on top of my head....they have looked at F-16 and more seriously Super Hornets. I think India wants to keep the status-qua going on long as possible and not go all the way towards USA....makes sense for USA to have a rapprochement but how much and what can USA offer India that it really needs?

    4. India is a good customer for Russian arms. During their summit in October, India inked a $5.5 billion deal with Russia for their S-400 SAM system. Also, India announced the purchase two Admiral Grigorovich-class (Project 11356) frigates. Combined, that's about $6.5 billion in sales.

    5. " how much and what can USA offer India that it really needs?"

      I have no idea what India's needs and wants are. That said, as far as weapon systems, I would guess that ASW systems (sonars, towed arrays, sonobuoys, ASW software), electronic countermeasures, basic reliable aircraft (F-16/18), and the like would be of interest. Submarine technology would also be a likely interest although I'm not sure how much we'd want to give.

      I would think non-military products and services would also be of interest although now I'm completely out of my field so I have no idea what, specifically, would be of interest.

    6. "India is a good customer for Russian arms."

      It's a contentious relationship with lots of contract 'failures' on both sides. India orders lots of stuff that, for one reason or another, seems to never actually deliver.

    7. "It's a contentious relationship with lots of contract 'failures' on both sides. India orders lots of stuff that, for one reason or another, seems to never actually deliver."

      That seems to be a general Indian arms procurement issue. It's just more noticeable with the Russians because India has more projects with than other suppliers.

      If you want to read about some real dogs' breakfasts, look into the ongoing fiascos of Indian indigenous projects like the Sitara, Tejas, and most damningly, the INSAS

  5. I believe they originally looked at the F16/F18 platform before settling on more SU-XX's and the Dassault Rafale. Seeing as the Rafale purchase is in the midst of a scandal, leaving us once again the opportunity for F16/18 sales. However, They want stealth aircraft and currently working on a deal to start producing the Su-57 within India. Thus any F16/18s will probably be a stopgap purchase. Seeing as we're "selling" F35s to Turkey, maybe we should attempt to sell them to India as well.

    That being said, Darth Anubis did a wonderfully job presenting the issues, I would like to point out the fact their still a little sore about our gunboat diplomacy in support of Pakistan during the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war...

    Maybe selling them the old USS Enterprise Hull and let them do the rebuilding, would persuade them to come to our camp...

    1. " F16/F18 platform before settling on more SU-XX's and the Dassault Rafale"

      One of India's problems is that they have a scattering of weapons from various countries. This has to create a nightmare of maintenance, support, and parts supply! They could markedly improve their overall military by simply standardizing on some supplier and this is where the US has something to offer since we already have extensive support systems in place.

    2. This just dawned on me. Since most of the IAF's aircraft are Russian origin, logically, most of the ordnance is also Russian origin. Do we even make export F16/18 that can interface with the Russian ordnance's targeting and terminal phases?

      The problem with the F16/18 being accepted by the IAF, is it will be a stopgap measure. The IAF is looking at going Gen5 stealth. What are the obstacles we need to overcome to export them the F35? Might as well be us instead of the Chinese or Russians...

      On a side note, wouldn't the introduction of the F16/18 to the IAF increase their issue with "scattering"?

    3. "wouldn't the introduction of the F16/18 to the IAF increase their issue with "scattering"?"

      It would and our goal should be to reduce the degree of scatter by increasing the proportion of US arms.

      I also don't think we should be looking to export the F-35 to a country with close ties to Russia. That's how technology gets lost - not that I believe much about the F-35 is secret given the degree of hacking by Russia, China, Iran, and NKorea but, still, why make it even easier? After many years, if we can draw India more solidly to us then we can consider making more advanced technologies available. Or, perhaps we do offer the F-35 in exchange for, say, basing rights?

  6. CHINA threat.

    27 Chinese Navy surface ships launched in 2018

    3x Type 055 class cruisers ~13,000t, 112 VLS cells, first of the new class the Nanchang launched June 2017 started sea trials August, said eight in build. Weapons loadout will include new generation YJ-12/18 supersonic AShM,  in a presentation by ZHAO Deng Ping, former Rear Admiral and Deputy Director of the Department of Armaments of the Chinese Navy, combat capability of a Type 055 is 2.4 times that of a Type 052D.
    3x Type 052D class destroyers, ~7,500t, 64 VLS cells, latest variant of Type 052, total now 15 'D'- Luyang III.
    1x Type 054A class frigate ~4,000t+, 32 VLS cells, said to be last of 30, new hybrid electric frigate class expected in 2019.
    10x Type 056 corvettes, ~1,500t of the improved Type 056A with VDS from 2015, carry 2 x dual YJ-83 sub-sonic AShM, four shipyards building, to date 54 in class.
    1x Type 081A ~1,000t, mine countermeasure class, 9th.
    2x Type 071 LPD, 25,000t, ,amphibious transport dock, 7th.
    1x Type 815A sigint/spy ship class, ~6,100t, 9th
    1x Type 903A replenishment ship, ~23,000t, 9th
    2x Type 910A weapon testing ships, ~6,000t, to join two Type 909/909A for surface equipment testing, radars, missile systems and two existing Type 910s for submarine weapon system testing.
    2x Type 927 ~6,000t, equivalent to USNS T-AGOS class, use very powerful long range low frequency active towed-array sensor system (SURTASS) equipment to track submarines. Looks like a copy of the USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS-23) with its catamaran/SWATH hull.
    1x Ocean Tugboat ~6,000t, 2nd of 3?

    The obvious takeaway is that with the very high build rate expect that on the single metric of fleet numbers they will soon have a larger fleet than USN. Another standout of Chinese 2018 ship launches is the resources they are putting into R&D with build of two weapon testing Type 910s and one sigint 815. Lastly reported cost figures quoted for export Type 054A ~$350M and Type 056A ~$100M, if semi-accurate would explain why Chinese can afford to build in such high numbers. Would expect 2019 same build rate and more news of their Type 002 ~80,000t CATOBAR carrier and Type 075 40,000t LHA.


    China is the world's largest ship builder in terms of tonnage, just ahead of South Korea with Japan third, 2017 figures.

    The Chinese Navy universal VLS comes in three lengths, the longest being 9 meters, which is longer than Mk-41’s strike length variant at 7.7 meters or the Mk-57’s 7.81 meters. Each individual square VLS cell has a diameter of 0.85 meters, significantly greater than that of the Mk-41 VLS at 0.635 meters or the Zumwalt class’ Mk-57 VLS at 0.71 meters. USN saying they will need bigger VLS to accommodate the new hypersonic strike conventional weapon, planned IOC 2025, for the new destroyer.

    Only 6x USN surface ships launched in 2018??, 1x Zumwalt class Lyndon B Johnson; 1x Arleigh Burke DDG121; 4x LCS.

    1. "reported cost figures"

      As you undoubtedly know, the Chinese shipbuilding industry is heavily subsidized and true costs are hugely underreported. Reported cost figures are, essentially, worthless.

      Many people latch onto these kinds of cost figures from countries around the world and then bemoan US shipbuilding costs without looking into what's included in the cost figures. Every time I've dug into a reported low cost, it always turns out the same: govt subsidies, govt furnished equipment that isn't included in the cost, reused equipment from a previous ship (nothing wrong with that but it distorts the cost figure), built for-but-not-with which reduces cost but also capability, and so on. I've yet to examine a case where any country builds significantly cheaper ships once all the factors are included and 'normalized'. From what I've seen, China is on the extreme far edge of manipulated cost figures, meaning they're not even remotely realistic.

    2. Costs are a murky world, those quoted for Type 054A frigate and Type 056 frigate are said to come from export deals, you never know if they have been deliberately kept low as a result of Chinese political decision to win friends or have been loaded to allow for 'commission' to agents acting on behalf of the local politicians and backhanders to the Chinese.

      The USN costs can be just as murky, as has been said Navy quotes $12.9B for Ford, but that's in 2008 $, actual cost never revealed but expect it to be ~$15B+, that's for Phase 1 build, current cost of Phase 2 build has not been disclosed either. Arleigh Burke Navy figures do not include Aegis component funded by the MDA, LCS has a budget of $4B for R&D, excluding the mission packages, still spending, they even lost the upgraded waterjets in a different R&D account saying that they could be used by other Navy ships, LOL, the Navy has hundreds of different R&D accounts plus others they can lose overspends.

      The Chinese shipyards are state companies and never know as you say how heavily subsidized they are, but guessing with the massive turnover of the shipyards comes expertise and with much lower safety standards, manpower costs than US would not be surprised if their costs an order of magnitude lower.

  7. I wounder at the durability of the China ship building boom. The wowed the world with rapidity of their high speed rail network construction a while back. Result lots of shoddy infrastructure and not much in the way of punishment for corruption and cut corners.

    Also you seem to have included every possible Chinese build but only USN capital ships. I guessing the balance of existing support or intel ships kinda favors the US so it not like that is a burning USN need.

    The fact that 5 ships launched by the USN are pointless wastes of time is however an issue.

    1. No knowledge of durability of the Chinese ships but at rate they are building they can scrap and replace them after 15/20 years.

      I did a quick google search for Navy support ships but didn't find any, stand to be corrected if anyone knows better.

      Not only are the 5 ships a pointless waste of time but waste of $Bs.

    2. "Also you seem to have included every possible Chinese build but only USN capital ships."

      Nick's list included 20 Chinese combat fleet ships versus 6 for the US (includes the worthless LCS). That's apples to apples and quite a disparity!

    3. "Result lots of shoddy infrastructure and not much in the way of punishment for corruption and cut corners."

      Quality is an unknown. Nothing I've read indicates any widespread, systemic quality issues in Chinese shipbuilding. It's fair to pose the question but without any evidence, be cautious about drawing a conclusion.

    4. Chabudao, "close enough"


      China is great where precision doesn't matter, but when it does, it gets disastrous.

      I suppose, Chinas military factories could be different than their civilian, but it's a stretch.

  8. "No knowledge of durability of the Chinese ships but at rate they are building they can scrap and replace them after 15/20 years."

    Quite possible. Its just there other recent burst building efforts have been plagued with quality issues. I have no sense of the tempo of Chinese operations. The PLAN has not historically been a hard working navy from what I understand (*). If there new builds show problems in 65 years not so affordable.

    * I red a couple things a while suggesting newer less protected operating rates for their subs showed them to loader than the US thought.

    "I did a quick google search for Navy support ships but didn't find any, stand to be corrected if anyone knows better."

    USNS Hershel? I think qualifies as a 2018 acquisition. But again if you will the USN has a reserve fleet and a well establish set of support ships, so China will necessarily have build a lot to achieve real blue water status and the US not so much.

    1. "If there new builds show problems in 65 years not so affordable."

      65 years???!!! I'm guessing you don't mean 65 years? No one builds ships with planned 65 year lifespans!

    2. " the USN has a reserve fleet and a well establish set of support ships,"

      This not quite true. Actually, it's quite the opposite! The US Navy has no significant reserve fleet. We used to but we don't anymore. Check this post.

      "Reserve Fleet"

    3. Kath, did check out the USNS Hershel "Woody" Williams (T-ESB-4), it was launched August 2017, the 27 Chinese ships listed all launched in the calendar year 2018.

    4. We are playing a bit a of a game then I think. 3 of the 815As show as launched all in various stages of fitting out or in sea trials.

      But you are right China builds a lot of ships. If you want the US to do that tell you congressmen that Ronald's inane unilateral ending of subsidies to US ship builders (Unlike Japan, South Korea, China, Norway, etc) was stupid, beyond stupid. Remind them none of them would think even for a second about unilaterally ending farm subsidies and related assistance. Remind them of the Jones Act to leverage US orders for people who want to ship to the US. When anyone yammers simply counter sue in the WTO and offer to drop manipulation as soon as they do, they will not because they would be in the same boat has the US since the early 80s.

      Its worth pointing out that back in the early 90s Ingalls Shipbuilding could produce Sa'ar 5 class corvettes at 2 a year w/o interrupting USN production. The overall problem is the USN is just building pointless ships. The 15 or so LCS could be up armed NSC cutters (they have the room and capacity for such) and the USN would have 15+ (30?)light frigates that could be used a fair chunk of their time showing the flag, soft, power, aid, anti - piracy, even hanging about in SE Asian waters w/o using Burkes. Maybe you could even train them to keep their transponders on congested civilian water ways.

  9. I know USAF has visited India and had IAF Sukhois at Red Flag in the past, not sure what the plans are for next couple of years but USN should be pushing hard to do some more joint exercises. Training at least once a year together would be a good start.

  10. Typo.... I meant to say something like 5 or 6 years. That is about when flaws in their grand infrastructure projects show up so far. Again you could write the same panic numbers down for super computing until you dig in a realize how low China utilization rate is for all the shiny gear they buy and the fact they don't bother to break up old super computers to hand off to other needs when they retire them.


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