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Navy monitoring entry of another Chinese ‘research’ vessel into Indian Ocean Region

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NEW DELHI:

Indian Navy

is closely monitoring the entry of yet another Chinese satellite and missile tracking ship into the

Indian Ocean Region

(IOR), which adds to its three such “research” vessels already present in the region.
The Chinese ship,

Yuan Wang 03

, has approached the IOR at a time when India has issued another NOTAM (notice to airmen) with a long no-fly zone over the

Bay of Bengal

for a possible ballistic missile test from the Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of Odisha on April 3-4. “Yuan Wang 03 is being kept under surveillance,” a defence official told TOI on Friday.
The Navy uses its P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and warships to track Chinese “dual-use” vessels even if they go “dark” by switching off their automatic identification system transponders.
The Yuan Wang class of ships, under the command of the People’s Liberation Army’s Strategic Support Force, are equipped with large antennae, advanced sensors and electronic equipment to monitor satellite launches and track trajectories of ballistic missiles as well as undertake electronic snooping.

Another

Chinese research vessel

, Xiang Yang Hong 01, was in Bay of Bengal during India’s test of the 5,000-km range Agni-5 ballistic missile with multiple warheads (MIRV or multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles) for first time on March 11.
Then, of course, Chinese vessel Xiang Yang Hong 03 had docked at Male late last month amid the plummeting India-Maldives bilateral relations under the pro-Beijing Mohamed Muizzu government in the archipelago.

Chinese marine resource survey ship, Da Yang Hao, is also currently present in IOR. While China regularly sends such research and survey vessels to the IOR to map oceanographic and other data useful for navigation and submarine operations, officials say the presence of four such “dual-use” ships in the region at the same time is relatively rare.
“China has a large fleet of 65 research & survey vessels. Most of them are ostensibly civilian ones for oceanographic research but they regularly undertake surveys for military purposes,” an officer said.
China has also helped Pakistan Navy recently induct its first specialised research or spy ship, PNS Rizwan, which has the capability to track launches of ballistic missiles and undertake other intelligence-gathering missions, as was earlier reported by TOI.
With the world’s largest Navy with over 360 warships and submarines, China deploys six to eight warships, apart from research ships and many fishing vessels, in IOR at any given time. Beijing is also working to establish additional logistical turnaround facilities from the African east coast to the Malacca Strait, having already secured a few since establishing its first overseas base at Djibouti on the Horn of Africa in Aug 2017.

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