China’s widening naval capabilities compared to India can be seen in the context of the PLA-N’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean region.
“Chinese activity in the Indian Ocean has touched a new high in recent months,” according to an Indian Navy official, The Hindustan Times reported on July 5, 2017.
The Indian Navy has sighted over a dozen PLA-N warships, submarines and intelligence-gathering vessels in the Indian Ocean in the last few months.
These sightings come as the Indian and Chinese troops are locked in a three-week long standoff at the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction near Sikkim, leading to increasingly belligerent rhetoric between New Delhi and Beijing.
The PLA-N has 26 destroyers, more than twice as many as India (11). Destroyers are both the PLA-N and IN’s frontline warships that possess powerful radars, can travel long distances and are capable of fulfilling land attack, missile defence, and surface and anti-submarine warfare. This makes them very powerful tools for power projection.
China recently launched its indigenously developed 12,000-tonne Type 55 destroyer, which “is considerably larger and more powerful than India’s latest … destroyers which have still not been commissioned”, according to NDTV Defence Editor Vishnu Som.
China’s Type-55 will eventually have around 120 missiles of various types. India’s most powerful destroyer, the yet-to-be commissioned Project 15-B “Visakhapatnam” class destroyers, will have 50 missiles.
The PLA-N has 52 frigates, nearly four times as many as India (14). Frigates are not as heavily armed as destroyers but can fulfil similar roles and can operate in open oceans.
India has 25 corvettes and missile boats, around one-fourth as many as China (106). Corvettes and missile boats are lightly armed as compared to frigates and provide coastal protection.
India’s aircraft carrier advantage no more?
So far, both India and China each have one aircraft carrier. The carrier is a sign of its growing military prowess.