Boost to Indian Navy’s underwater combatant fleet as Made in India Scorpene submarines sail towards eventual induction

INS Kalvari, INS Khanderi, Scorpene Submarine, Submarine, Indian Navy, DCNS, DCNS India

In a boost to Indian Navy’s underwater capabilities, Khanderi, an advanced attack submarine, was launched for its sea trials by the state-run Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) at Mumbai. The state-of-the-art submarine was launched for its trials by Bina Bhamre and Subhash Bhamre, the country’s Minister of State (MoS) for Defence. The event had CNS (Chief of Naval Staff) Admiral Sunil Lanba, Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, senior naval officials and staff of MDL and DCNS in attendance.

The submarine following its launch has embarked on a steady sail towards its eventual induction to the ranks of the Indian Navy. Khanderi is the second of the six Scorpene submarines being built by MDL in partnership with DCNS under Project P-75. The submarine had been launched to the waters for the maiden time in January, 2017. Following the successful completion of outfitting work, the submarine had been undergoing extensive harbour trials at MDL.

Khanderi, a diesel-electric powered conventional attack submarine, on June 1st, for the first time headed out to the open seas for the surface phase of sea trials. The submarine broke-free of the docks and headed out to the open seas propelled by its own power. During the maiden leg of the trials, the submarine will be tested for system compatibility and working, following which slow and high speed menoeuvre trails at high seas will be held by the end-user.

Following the completion of the surface trials, the submarine will be put through the crucial submerged trials during which the submarine will test its sophisticated weaponry package. Khanderi is expected to join the ranks of the Indian Navy by 2018 and will eventually be one of the frontline underwater combatants of the Indian Navy.

INS Khanderi; Indian Navy; Scorpene Submarines; Make in India
INS Khanderi during its launch in January; Courtesy – Indian Navy

Khanderi’s sail towards induction comes as a major relief to the Indian Navy which has been grappling to maintain combat readiness status with an aging fleet of just 14 submarines. Multiple committees have time and again raised doubts about the Navy’s capabilities in guarding the country’s territorial waters or the region’s strategically important sea lanes of communication (SLOC), given the worrying age and readiness status of these aging submarines.

Arun Jaitley, the country’s defence minister, lauded the efforts of MDL staff in successfully launching the submarine for sea trails. Speaking about the submarine’s importance he said “These Scorpene class submarines will not only add to our future naval power & strengthen defence but also make our ocean safe & secure.”

Kalvari to be inducted by July, 2017: CNS Admiral Sunil Lanba

The Indian Navy’s underwater combatant community has yet another reason to cheer as the navy is set to induct a fully Indian built submarine to its force as early as next month. Kalvari, the first of the six Scorpene submarines being built in India, is all set to be inducted to the fleet by July, 2017.

Speaking at an event organised by FICCI, CNS Admiral Sunil Lanba, said that “Kalvari, which fired an indigenous torpedo last week, is going through final phase of trials, and we are hopeful that in July-August, we will take delivery.”

The induction of Kalvari will mark a new beginning in the Indian Navy’s submarine arm, as it will be the first submarine being inducted to the navy after almost 18 years. The last submarines to be inducted by the Indian Navy were the Russian-origin Kilo-class submarines in the late 90’s.

Kalvari has been undergoing sea trials since its launch in May, 2016. While the submarine had in March, 2017 launched the Exocet anti-shipping cruise missile, the maiden torpedo was launched from the submarine in May, 2017. The submarine will now undergo further under-water system tests before being parted with its permanent operating crew and its homeport – INS Kadamba situated in Karwar, Karnataka.

INS Khanderi, INS Kalvari, Scorpene Submarines, Submarines, Indian Navy, Submarines
A infographic representation depicting the Make in India component under P-75; Courtesy – DCNS.

P-75 Program, a step forward for Modi’s Make in India.

DCNS, the collaborator for the project, for the execution is working with a range of MSMEs like SEC, Flash Forge, HBL and many more under this program. This has enabled equipment to be locally manufactured in the categories of Float (Hulls, Hatches, Ballast Valves), Move (Steering Consoles) and Fight (Weapon Handling). The company through these working partnerships plans to attain at least 30% indigenisation by the time the sixth submarine construction is taken up.

The $3.5 Billion P-75 program floated in 2005 is surely a huge step forward for the government’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ initiative. The project which is being handled by MDL, besides providing the navy with submarines, has also created a sound industrial ecosystem to indigenise equipment for future submarines needs.

Specifications of Kalvari-class/Scorpene-class submarines

The Kalvari-class submarines are based on the design of Scorpene submarines manufactured by French-based DCNS. A leader in maritime warfare solutions, DCNS, had been selected under the multi-billion dollar P-75 program to build six conventional submarines locally in India with MDL. The Scorpene’s had tipped the German-origin Type-214 submarines, given the formers capabilities to fire tube-launched anti-shipping cruise missile.

The submarines, powered by twin diesel-electric engines, are capable of operating in all maritime environments including the warmer and challenging tropic waters. The state-of-the-art combat system called the SUBTICS (SUBmarine Tactical Integrated Combat System) allows the submarine to be efficiently used for a wide array of operations including anti-surface, anti-shipping and anti-submarine warfare.

INS kalvari, INS Khanderi, Indian Navy, Scorpene Submarines, DCNS, DCNS India
INS Kalvari – the future of India’s underwater fleet.

Besides, the advanced stealth technologies allow the submarine to seamlessly mount ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) and mine laying operations well inside hostile waters. Making the platform extremely potent is the combination of Exocet anti-shipping cruise missile and the heavy-weight torpedo systems.

MDL and DCNS plan to deliver the next remaining four submarines with a time frame of nine months between each of them. Following their induction, the submarines will be homeported in INS Kadamba guarding the Western seaboard. These state-of-the-art submarines which are set to replace the aging Kilo-class submarines will in the near future emerge as the frontline battle machines of the Indian Navy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *