Amid reports of China deploying a fleet of underwater drones in the Indian Ocean Region to monitor movements in the area, India has started keeping a strict vigil in the area, reported the Times of India.
China already has a deployment of ships in the region for hydrographic survey and oceanic research, and Indian security agencies are skeptical about the motive behind the deployment of the drones. While these are usually used to conduct surveys for commercial activities such as deep-sea mining, they can also be exploited to aid in their submarine and anti-submarine operations.
According to a recent Forbes report, China has deployed at least 12 drones called Sea Wing from their research vessel Xiangyanghong 06. The long-range gliders were launched in the IOR in December last year and taken out in February after they made more than 3,400 observations.
The data was reportedly collected for the ocean ecology research project of China’s Ministry of Natural Resources. Though media reports suggest that oceanographic data was transmitted by the drones, such data is often used for submarine warfare operations by naval intelligence.
While the Indian Navy is yet uncertain about the “authenticity” of the Forbes article, they are constantly tracking Chinese research vessels. A handful of such research vessels are usually always present in different parts of the IOR.
To find out the best route for submarines, these vessels gauge the salinity, temperature, and chlorophyll level of seawater by conducting marine surveys.