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Another Chinese missile tracking vessel in Indian Ocean Region as India issues new NOTAM

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NEW DELHI : A Chinese satellite and missile tracking vessel is approaching the Indian Ocean, raising concerns in India, said Damien Symon, a geo-intelligence expert, on Friday. He also said that one more Chinese research vessel is operating in the region right now. 

This comes in the wake of a notification by India for a no-fly zone over the Bay Of Bengal Region, indicating a likely missile test. The geo-intelligence expert expected the date of the missile test to be between April 3 and 4. 

In a tweet on Thursday, Symon wrote: “Area Warning #India issues a notification for a no-fly zone over the Bay Of Bengal Region indicative of a likely missile test – Date | 03-04 April 2024.” He said China’s missile tracking vessel – Yuan Wang 03 – was seen heading to the IOR (Indian Ocean Region).

In January this year, after the Maldives allowed China to dock its research vessel at its Male port, Indian geo-strategist Brahma Chellaney said China was aggressively engaged in mapping the Indian Ocean bed and collecting seismic and bathymetric data to facilitate submarine operations in India’s maritime backyard. 

On January 22, Chellaney, the author of ‘Water: Asia’s New Battleground’, said China has stepped up its survey of the Indian Ocean, including the seafloor, to facilitate submarine operations in the Indian Ocean. 

“If China were to open a potent maritime front against India, it would complete India’s strategic encirclement,” he said while sharing a paper titled “China’s Dual-Use Research Operations in the Indian Ocean.”

As per the paper, Hidden Reach analysed Chinese oceanographic missions since 2020 and identified 64 active research and survey vessels. Of these 64 active vessels, the paper said, over 80 per cent had demonstrated “suspect behavior or possess organizational links suggesting their involvement in advancing Beijing’s geopolitical agenda”.

The PLA can leverage the insights gained from these missions to enhance its knowledge of the dynamic undersea environment—a crucial precursor to confidently deploying naval forces abroad, the paper added.

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