India's Transformation Into A True Blue-Water Navy
India’s aspiration of a modernised blue-water navy is coming to fruition. Under Project 75, six Scorpene class submarines are under construction at the East Yard of Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) in collaboration with and transfer of the latest naval technology from French company DCNS (the contract of which is estimated at $3.5 billion). Technologies include the SUBTICS integrated combat system, a computerized central management system managing the submarine’s sensors and weapons. The Scorpene class of submarines are designed to be stealthily silent under water.
Scorpene Class Submarine Launches
In April 2015, the Kalvari (the first of the Indian Navy’s Scorpene class submarines), undocked at Mazagon Dock. In March 2017, the Kalvari successfully test-fired an Exocet SM 39 anti-ship missile and in May 2017, a torpedo.
In January 2017, the INS Khanderi was the second of the Scopene class submarines to launch. In June 2017, the submarine sailed from Mazagon Dock to begin its sea trials.
MDL has been the yard of choice for the Indian Navy with facilities in Mumbai and Nhava. Main activities involve the construction of state-of-the-art warships and submarines as well as a series of Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Indian Coast Guard. The Leander class frigate, INS Nilgiri, was the first modern warship to be built by MDL followed by the Godavari class (the first ship was commissioned in December 1983). The destroyer class Project-15, the last of which was commissioned in 2001, was the largest to be built in that part of the world. MDL has also constructed two corvettes for the Navy, missile boats, a cadet training ship, three new generation stealth warships under Project-17 frigates, three ships (follow-on to the Delhi class of destroyers), and a series of Border Out Posts (floating police stations).
India is continuing its submarine programme with Project 75I with five shipyards currently being considered: Hindustan Shipyard, Mazagon Dock, Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Larsen & Toubro, and Reliance Defense (previously Pipavav Shipyard). The foreign companies competing for the transfer of technology include DCNS of France, SAAB of Sweden, Rosoboronexport State Corporation of Russia, and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems of Germany. All six submarines will be built in India just like Project 75. The six submarines under Project 75I will include certain parameters for weight and design, with a larger weight than the Scorpene class of submarines.
With a coastline of 7,000 km and over 1,200 islands to protect, an increased presence of Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean, and a need for an edge over Pakistan, maritime dominance has become a priority for India. The 12 submarines under the two projects will propel India into becoming a fierce contender in the Indian Ocean and a true blue-water navy.
Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA