The Indian armed forces had a momentous 2023 with several giant strides made to realise the vision of a strong, secure, self-reliant, and inclusive India. From being deployed on the world’s highest battlefield to indigenous building warships and aircraft, women commanding combat units and naval warships, 2023 had established new dynamics.
From buyers to builders
INS Imphal |
December 26 was one of the remarkable days for the Indian Armed Forces with INS Imphal, a Project 15B stealth guide missile destroyer was commissioned by the Indian Navy at Naval Dockyard, Mumbai. One of the four indigenous Visakhapatnam class destroyers is being designed by the Indian Navy’s Warship Design Bureau and constructed by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL), Mumbai. The ship measures 163m in length, and 17m in breadth with a displacement of 7,400 tonnes and is amongst the most potent warships built in India.
From being 'Buyers Navy' to 'Builders Navy', the force has come a long way since its establishment in 1950. With aircraft carriers, destroyers, stealth frigates, corvettes, submarines and other war vessels being constructed in India, presently, of the 66 ships under construction 64 are being built in India. Further, the plan includes 24 ships and submarines constructed in Indian shipyards to make the Indian Navy aatmanirbhar by 2047.
In 2023, five shipbuilding contracts at a total value of Rs 41,742.37 crore were concluded with Indian shipyards. INS Vagir, the fifth submarine of Kalvari class, was commissioned on January 23.
Maldivian CG Ship Huravee, a Trinkat Class Fast Attack Craft, went under refit and was re-commissioned into Indian Navy as INS Tarmugli on December 14. The ship and as returned to India by the government of Maldives.
Sandhayak (Yard 3025), the first of the four Survey Vessel (Large) ships was delivered to Indian Navy by M/s GRSE on December 4. The ship will be commissioned in January 2024.
The third GRSE ship of Project P17A Frigates, Vindhyagiri (Yard 3024), was launched on Aug 17, 2023, at GRSE, Kolkata, by the President of India, Droupadi Murmu. The fourth ship of Survey Vessel Large, Sanshodhak (Yard 3028) was launched on June 13, at M/s L&T Kattupalli.
Two ASW Shallow Water Crafts (ASW SWC) namely Androth (Yard 3035) and Anjadip (Yard 3030) were launched on March 21 and June 13, 2023, respectively at GRSE, Kolkata. Three more ASW SWCs namely Mahe (Yard 523), Malvan (Yard 524) and Magrol (Yard 525) were concurrently launched on November 30, 2023, at CSL, Kochi.
The last of the seven P17A ships, Mahendragiri (Yard 12654) was launched on September 01, 2023, in Mumbai. In addition, the first indigenous-built aircraft career, INS Vikrant received operational clearance and a successful maiden landing of LCA (Navy) and MIG-29K aircraft was achieved onboard INS Vikrant as part of Aviation Integration trials on February 6, 2023.
In September this year, the first C-295 MW aircraft was inducted into the Indian Air Force. The ageing Avro aircraft would be replaced by C-295 MW aircraft. The remaining aircraft will arrive in India from May 2024 onwards.
Three squadrons of the Akash missile system, employing advanced Rajendra Mk-II radars have been commissioned in the last year. Heron Mk II RPA has been inducted and operationalised in the Indian Air Force.
The New Generation Close Combat Missile was fired for the first time this year. Long-range SCALP missiles were also fired and validated. Apache Attack Helicopters also carried out successful firing of Stinger Msl against an airborne slow-moving target.
Gender neutral force
Indian Defence Forces have taken remarkable steps to become a true gender-neutral and inclusive force. It has commenced the induction of women into all branches. Some of the key highlights:
As part of gender-neutral ranks and roles, the Indian Navy infected women officers in several forefront roles. Shattering the glass ceiling, Captain Shiva Chauhan became the first woman officer to get operationally deployed in Kumar Post, Siachen Glacier in January this year. Siachen is the world’s highest battlefield. In December, Captain Geetika Koul became the first woman medical officer to be deployed at Siachen after completing the induction training at Siachen Battle School. Days later, Captain Fatima Wasim became the first woman medical officer to be deployed on an operational post on the Siachen Glacier.
Lt Cdr Prerna Deosthalee was named as the first woman officer to command an Indian Naval Warship. Ten women officers were commissioned in the Regiment of Artillery this year.
Gp Capt Shaliza Dhami, a helicopter pilot became the first woman from a flying branch to command a combat unit in the IAF, on March 27, 2023. She is also the first woman QFI in the flying branch.
Sqn Leader Manisha Padhi was named India’s first Woman Aide-De-Camp (ADC) to a Governor (Mizoram).
Army Medical Corps Officer Col Sunita became the first woman to command the Armed Forces Transfusion Centre, Delhi Cantt, the largest blood transfusion centre of the Armed Forces.
Air Marshal Sadhna S Nair assumed the appointment of Director of General Hospital Services (Armed Forces) in the office of DG Armed Forces Medical Services, becoming the first woman to hold the position.
Thirty Army Girl Cadets are under training in the National Defence Academy. In addition, 100 women achievers underwent training at 40 Regimental Centres and Training Centres in two groups. More than 1000 women Agniveers have been inducted into the Navy.
In a historic achievement and argument, women officers in the armed forces are now appointed for permanent commission which earlier was reserved only for men. As of date, 63 women officers (excluding Medical and Dental officers) have been granted permanent commission.
Delightful global showcase
Earlier this year, the Indian Army led the Tri-Services marching contingent at the Bastille Day Parade 2023 Paris in France. A contingent of the Punjab Regiment along with a band from Rajputana Rifles Centre participated in the event. This was the second representation of the Indian Army in the Bastille Day Parade after 2009.
As part of Navy Day celebrations this year, an Operational Demo by frontline Naval ships/aircraft to demonstrate the credible Naval power and preparedness of the Indian Navy to deal with maritime threats and challenges in the region was conducted at Sindhudurg, Maharashtra on December 04, 2023.
The 14th edition of Aero India 2023 was held at AFS Yelahanka earlier this year. Fly past 13 formations of IAF and indigenous aircraft (except P-81) flown by IAF, IA, ICG and IN was the signature event on the inaugural day. The multi-directional fly-past added to the visual appeal and thrill of the event.
During the Air Force Day celebration at Prayagraj station a new IAF Ensign was unveiled by replacing the Union Jack with the Indian tricolour and the RAF roundels with the IAF tricolour roundel in the lower right canton.
IAF also undertook several Aerial Displays starting with one in Bhopal over Bhojtal Lake in September, at OD Fort, Triveni Sangam, Prayagraj, an airshow to commemorate 76 years of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir into India, and a spectacular airshow by Surya Kiran aerobatic team of the IAF ahead of the final match of the Cricket World Cup in Ahmedabad.
Operation Ajay in Gaza: Towards Operation Ajay, the first IAF C-17 aircraft was launched on October 22 this year in support of Palestinian citizens affected by the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. IAF C-17 airlifted 6.5 tones of medical relief items and 32 tones of disaster relief material including essential life-saving medicines, surgical items, tents, sleeping bags, tarpaulins, sanitary utilities and water purification tablets among other necessary items. The medical relief was delivered at Al-Arish, Egypt to the Red Crescent, for onward distribution in Gaza.
HADR operation in Nepal: Following the devastating earthquake in Nepal on November 3, 2023, IAF C-130J aircraft inducted NDRF relief equipment and HLL medicinal payload at Nepalganj. As a first responder, essential medical cum hygiene supplies, tents, and other relief materials were provided for earthquake-affected families. The IAF C-130J aircraft flew 02 sorties, airlifting 21 tones of relief load.
Tunnel Rescue Operation in Uttarakhand: Apart from airlifting 27.5 tonnes of critical heavy equipment, rescue loads, and rescue experts on three C-130J aircraft of IAF, the Chinook helicopter airlifted all 41 rescued workers to AIIMS Rishikesh. The tasks were successfully carried out with minimal notice utilising C-130, C-17, Dornier, AN-32 and Chinook. The IAF aircraft operated over 79 hours lifting 104 tons of load.
(With inputs from Ministry of Defence)