India is to build a new naval research centre for warships to boost its sea defences and maritime security, and to counter the threat of China in the Indian Ocean.

The $133m National Institute for Research and Development in Shipbuilding (NIRDESH) will be completed within two years and be located in the southern state of Kerala, India.

Indian Defence Minister AK Antony said the facility would ensure self-reliance in naval defence technology.

The unit will work with the aim of reducing the country’s dependence on military imports while helping to develop warship technology.

India hiked its 2010-2011 military spending by 4% to $32bn and has plans to spend $112bn on defence hardware between 2011 and 2016, according to Agence France Presse.