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Δευτέρα, 27 Μαΐου, 2024

India ‘Kicks Out’ Turkey From Navy’s Shipping Project; Cements Ties With Greece To Thwart Ankara

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After taking a stand in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, New Delhi has once again made it clear that in the conflict in the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece, it is siding with the latter.

Amidst Turkey’s close dealings with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, New Delhi canceled the contract with a Turkish firm involved in a ship-building project in India even as it hosted the Chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff at a fighter base.

The ties between India and Turkey have hit an all-time low because of Turkey’s inability to decouple itself from Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir. Since the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019 in Jammu and Kashmir, Turkey has not let go of any opportunity to raise the issue on an international forum.

The Indian government responded by cozying up with the leaders of Armenia, Cyprus, and Greece—all three countries with which Turkey is embroiled in disputes. In 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was slated to visit Turkey and Saudi Arabia. But the visit to Turkey was cancelled, and the Prime Minister visited only Saudi Arabia, sending a message to Ankara about India’s diplomatic preferences.

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In the latest blow to Turkey, India’s Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) terminated all agreements with Turkish firms to construct the fleet of five support ships for the Indian Navy. HSL will execute the construction on its own.

The project, estimated to cost between US $1.5 billion and $2 billion, initially envisaged the transfer of technology from Anadolu Shipyard, part of the Turkish TAIS consortium, with which HSL signed an agreement for technical collaboration in 2020.

The steel cutting for the first five fleet support ships was held at the HSL in Visakhapatnam on April 10 in the presence of Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane and other senior officials from the Indian Navy. The Indian Navy signed a contract with the HSL for the acquisition of five fleet support ships in August 2023. The ships are scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in 2027.

The 230-meter-long FSVs will have a displacement of 45,000 tonnes. They carry fuel and other supplies for warships.

As part of the initial contract with the Turkish firm, Turkish engineers were supposed to come to India to assist with the project. In addition to designs, the Turkish consortium was to provide engineering services, planning, and specification preparation. However, the contract has been sacrificed at the altar of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hubris.

At the same time, India is bolstering its ties with Greece. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Greece in 2023 opened an avenue of cooperation between the two countries.

There have also been talks about collaboration in the defense sector. Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Greece was the first by an Indian prime minister in four decades since Indira Gandhi’s visit to the country in 1983. The Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis reciprocated the visit to India in February 2024.

Chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff General Dimitrios Choupis just concluded a visit to India, where he visited Indian arms manufacturers, the Indian Air Force’s fighter bases, and a transport base. The transport base in Central India is likely to be Agra, which hosts India’s Russian transport fleet along with its ‘Flying Radars.’

At the Sukhoi base, the Greek General witnessed low-level aerobatics by the Sukhoi Su-30 MKI and interacted with the IAF personnel. This comes after Indian Sukhois participated in an air exercise hosted by the Greek Air Force in 2023 and conducted drills with Greek F-16 and Rafale fighter jets over Greece and the Mediterranean Sea.

File Image: Indo-Greek War Games

Greece, being part of the US-led NATO alliance, could be of great tactical help to the Indian Air Force. The Hellenic Air Force (HAF) operates Rafale jets, which are also operated by the Indian Air Force. More importantly, India can learn more from them about the F-16 C/D used by the Pakistan Air Force.

General Choupis also visited Tata Advanced Systems Limited and Bharat Forge in Pune. He was briefed about TASL’s ALS-50 loitering munition / IVTOL 20 UAV, Advanced Towed Artillery Guns systems recently purchased by Armenia, and ammunition from Kalyani Forge.

The visit gave General Choupis and his delegation a first-hand glimpse into the Indian defense industry’s cutting-edge innovations and indigenous capabilities.

This indicates that military contracts will be in the offing. As reported by the EurAsian Times recently, Greek media voices have gotten stronger in favor of procuring a “truly strategic weapon from India”—the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile


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