China Develops Underwater Surveillance Networks in Indian Ocean, South China Sea (Important) (Download PDF)

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China has successfully developed new underwater surveillance network to help its submarines get stronger lock on targets while protecting nation՚s interests along maritime Silk Road, which also includes Indian Ocean.

Map of Underwater Surveillance Networks in Indian Ocean
  • Project is part of unprecedented military expansion fuelled by China՚s desire to challenge United States in world՚s oceans.
  • Haiyi, which means “sea wings” in Chinese, has successfully completed a scientific observation in the Indian Ocean. It has marked that for the first time, the indigenous underwater glider was used in this ocean
  • Haiyi is China՚s independently-developed underwater glider.

How Does the System Work?

  • The network is underwater surveillance system based on network of platforms - buoys, satellites, surface vessels and underwater gliders - that gather data from Western Pacific, South China Sea and Indian Oceans.
  • The system works by gathering information about the underwater environment, particularly water temperature and salinity.
  • The information is then streamed to three intelligence centres - in the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, the southern province of Guangdong, and a joint facility in South Asia - where it is processed and analysed
  • The navy can then use the information to more accurately track target vessels as well as improve navigation and positioning.

Why is this Project Being Developed?

  • China has stepped up naval expeditions to the Indian Ocean to fight the pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

What else is China Doing to Make Its Base Strong?

China is also seeking to establish logistic bases in the Indian Ocean, much to the chagrin of India

  1. The first such base was opened by China in Djibouti last year
  2. It acquired the Hambantota port of Sri Lanka on 99 years lease
  3. Developing the Gwadar port in Pakistan as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Who is Developing the Project?

  • The project is led by the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) .

    How Do Submarines Work?

  • Submarines use sonar (sound navigation and ranging) to locate, identify and attack other vessels.
  • The speed and direction sound waves take is greatly affected by the temperature and salinity of the water through which they are travelling.
  • The new surveillance system will enable Chinese submarines to steer a much safer course through difficult waters as well as improving their targeting ability.

- Published/Last Modified on: February 12, 2018

International Relations/Organizations

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