Amid tensions with India along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, China has reportedly deployed underwater drones known as ‘Sea Wing (Haiyi) glider’ in the Indian ocean. The Sea Wing (Haiyi) glider’ drone, used for naval surveillance, can operate for months under the sea.
According to an analyst, HI Sutton, Sea Wing (Haiyi) glider is a type of Uncrewed Underwater Vehicle (UUV) launched in December 2019. Sutton says that these drones are similar to those deployed by the US Navy, one of which was seized by Beijing in 2016 to ensure “safe navigation of passing ships”.
“Taken at face value, it may be surprising that China is now deploying these types of UUV en masse in the Indian Ocean. China has also deployed the Sea Wing from an ice breaker in the Arctic,” he said, as reported by news agency ANI.
According to the defence expert, reports from December last year suggested that 14 would be employed in the Indian Ocean mission but only 12 were used. Sutton said that these gliders are unpowered with large wings to glide that can run for long periods, adding that they are not fast or agile, however, they are employed for long-range missions.
Furthermore, the defence analyst said these Chinese gliders that are placed in the Indian Ocean were reportedly gathering oceanography data, which “sounds innocuous” however, is commonly gathered for naval intelligence purposes.”
Noting the rising challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat earlier this month had said the world is witnessing a race for strategic bases in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), adding that it is only going to gain momentum in the times to come.
Of late along with geostrategic competition in the Indo-Pacific, we are also witnessing a race for strategic places and bases in the Indian Ocean region which is only going to gain momentum in the times to come,” General Rawat had said while delivering a keynote address at the Global Dialogue Security Summit.
CDS Rawat had said, “In the military field, technology must be a means of deterrence not a source of destruction. Our approach to security hence needs to shift from unilateral to the multilateral mode which mandates increasing training engagements with partner nations in order to fortify the future.”
He said that based on the challenges that India face, “we require structured long term planning for capacity building and capability development of our defence forces.”