Indian papers reported last week New Delhi’s announcement of the gift of a used submarine to Myanmar – the country’s first ever.
The INS Sindhuvir, as it was called, is a Soviet-origin Kilo-class submarine operated by the Indian Navy since 1988. With its service life extended by 10-15 years in an overhaul, it will serve Myanmar’s navy till the 2030s. It has been renamed UMS Minye Theinkhathu, from a historical hero in Myanmar, and already showcased last week.
According to specialised websites, it has a displacement of 3,000 tonnes, a length of 74 metres and a beam of 10 metres, a maximum operating depth of 300 meters and a top speed of 18 knots. It is manned by a crew of 15 officers and 60 sailors and is equipped with an array of weapons and sensors which enables the submarine to participate in various fleet, tactical and theatre level exercises. Myanmar and India already conduct joint naval exercises, including last year’s IMNEX 2019 in the Bay of Bengal.
“Cooperation in the maritime domain is a part of our diverse and enhanced engagement with Myanmar. In this context, India will be delivering a kilo class submarine INS Sindhuvir to the Myanmar Navy,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs said.
The announcement comes just 2 weeks after the visit of India’s army Chief and foreign secretary to Myanmar. Observers were quick to highlight the fact that India is playing a high card in its long-running competition with Beijing for influence in Myanmar, where China and Russia have historically been the main providers of military and defense equipment.