The United States and India are exploring ways to help each other track Chinese submarines, a move that could further tighten their military alliance against the Chinese navy’s growing influence in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.
Last month, New Delhi agreed to allow Washington to use its military bases in exchange for weapons technology to help India narrow the gap with China.
The two sides indicated that their navies will hold talks on anti-submarine warfare (ASW), an area of sensitive military technology and joint tactics that only allies share.
“These types of basic engagements will be the building blocks for an enduring Navy-to-Navy relationship that we hope will grow over time into a shared ASW capability,” an unnamed US official familiar with India-US military cooperation was quoted as saying by Reuters on Monday.
Indian navy officials have reported sighting Chinese submarines four times every three months on an average basis, with most of the sightings being registered near India’s Andamans and Nicobar islands in the vicinity of the Malacca Straits.
More than 80 percent of China’s fuel supplies pass through this entry to the South China Sea.
As part of their new naval cooperation against Chinese subs, America and India are flying the new version of the US P-8 spy aircraft, which is the Pentagon’s most effective submarine hunting weapon.
The P-8 or Poseidon is capable of using torpedoes, depth charges, SLAM-ER missiles, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and other weapons.
According to an Indian naval source, the two countries have also agreed to focus on anti-submarine warfare in their next joint exercises to take place in the northern Philippine Sea in June.
Japan, another close US ally whose submarines are believed to have tracked Chinese submarines in the western Pacific, will also partake in the exercises.
Meanwhile, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said China was aware of countries in the region engaging in military cooperation.
“We hope that the relevant cooperation is normal, and that it can be meaningful to the peace and stability of the region,” she said.
China has one of the world’s largest submarine fleets in service today which is comprised of at least five nuclear-powered attack submarines, four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, and more than 50 diesel-electric attack submarines.