Myanmar is all set to acquire its first diesel-electric submarine, with the Indian Navy handing over its retrofitted INS Sindhuvir to the country for training and operations. In what is being perceived as a major boost to regional military cooperation, New Delhi and Naypyidaw are also working on the supply of Indian field guns (105 mm artillery guns), ammunition, night vision devices and other military hardware.
Chief of the Army Staff Gen MM Naravane and Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla travelled to Myanmar on October 4-5 to discuss enhanced cooperation. The two held extensive discussions with state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s Defence Services.
Both India and Myanmar are in talks for the supply of more military hardware, including 105 mm artillery guns, ammunition, sonars and advanced light torpedoes ‘Shyena’. The two countries are also working on more joint-training and exercises to enhance Indo-Myanmar military-to-military cooperation.
“India will be delivering a kilo class submarine INS Sindhuvir to the Myanmar Navy. This will be the first submarine in the Myanmar navy. This is in accordance with our vision of SAGAR – Security and Growth for All in the Region,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Shrivastava said.
India is working with Myanmar and Bangladesh to build and upgrade defence capabilities in an attempt to counter growing Chinese influence.
In the past, India has delivered maritime reconnaissance aircraft, patrol vessels and ships, advanced torpedoes, radars, field guns and even small arms and ammunition to Myanmar. The renewed efforts can be seen as attempts to keep Myanmar safe from China’s clutches.
The Indian Navy is also working on the training of Myanmar Navy personnel in submarine operations not only at INS Satvahana at Vishakhapatnam but also in Myanmar itself.
India and Myanmar share a 1,645 km-long land and maritime border. Both the armies have also been cooperating extensively on counter-terrorism operations.
INS Sindhuvir had entered service in the Indian Navy in 1988 and stayed in service for nearly three decades. The kilo class submarine has undergone extensive retrofitting at the Hindustan Shipyard Limited and is expected to remain in service in the Myanmar Navy for another decade-and-a-half till about 2035.
The submarine is expected to be used more for training purposes. Myanmar is also learnt to be acquiring two additional submarines from China.