In­dia ap­proves $50 bil­lion...

SP's MAI - - MILITARY -

the first na­tion out­side of the P-5 to be oper­at­ing a nu­clear sub­ma­rine. This Akula class sub­ma­rine on lease from Rus­sia is be­ing de­scribed as a game changer in the In­dian Ocean re­gion.

In­dia’s in­dige­nous war­ship build­ing pro­gramme has never looked busier. The im­pres­sive or­der book in­cludes the in­dige­nous air­craft car­rier and three Kolkata class de­stroy­ers un­der Project 15A. While the car­rier’s run­ning late, the de­liv­ery of the Project 15A de­stroy­ers ap­pears set to com­mence next year on sched­ule, and en­cour­aged by the progress, the Navy has signed an­other con­tract with MDL for four fol­low-on de­stroy­ers un­der Project 15B.

Four anti-sub­ma­rine corvettes are be­ing built at GRSE Kolkata. These are the first in this class, and will come with stealth fea­tures. The first of this lot is sched­uled for in­duc­tion early 2013, and the rest will fol­low at yearly in­ter­vals.

Four off­shore pa­trol ves­sels (OPVs) are on the way at Goa Ship­yard. And his­tory was made by con­tract­ing five more OPVs to Pi­pavav. This is the first time that an or­der for naval ships has been placed on a pri­vate In­dian ship­yard. Two cadet train­ing ships will be built at an­other pri­vate ship­yard.

The Navy is also set to re­place its am­phibi­ous fleet. Eight new land­ing craft are un­der con­struc­tion at GRSE. These will re­place the ex­ist­ing land­ing craft util­ity (LCUs), which will be phased out.

Six new cata­ma­ran hull sur­vey ves­sels are be­ing built at Gu­jarat’s Al­cock Ash­down. The six Scor­penes at­tack sub­marines are un­der- way at MDL. As per the re­vised de­liv­ery sched­ule prom­ises the first Scor­pene by 2015, and the sixth by 2018. The three war­ships on or­der in Rus­sia in­clude two more of the Tal­war fol­low-on class, and the air­craft car­rier Gor­shkov, cur­rently un­der­go­ing sea tri­als. On July 28, land­ings of the MiG-29K on the deck of the Gor­shkov com­menced.

Ahead of the in­duc­tion of the Gor­shkov in its avatar as the INS Vikra­ma­ditya, all 16 MiG-29K fight­ers from the first lot have been de­liv­ered to the Navy. De­liv­ery of the sec­ond batch of 29 of these car­rier-borne fight­ers will be­gin this year. These will sig­nif­i­cantly en­hance the Navy’s airstrike ca­pa­bil­ity.

A land­mark event on the avi­a­tion front will be the in­duc­tion of eight of the world’s most ad­vanced long-range maritime re­con­nais­sance air­craft, the P-8i Po­sei­don, which start ar­riv­ing early 2013.

Fleet ships are get­ting new multi-role he­li­copters. The Kamov28 and the Seak­ing 42B fleets are get­ting weapons, sen­sors and avion­ics up­grade.

An in­fra­struc­ture beef-up is also adding to mus­cle at sea. PhaseI of the Karwar base is com­plete. A new stag­ing base was com­mis­sioned at Kavaratti in the Lak­shad­weep and a naval air sta­tion has been com­mis­sioned at Camp­bell Bay, the south­ern­most tip of the An­daman and Ni­co­bar archipelago, af­ford­ing In­dia bet­ter over­sight over the very busy Malacca Strait and the Six De­gree Chan­nel, which are cru­cial to ship­ping, global com­merce and en­ergy se­cu­rity.

Yes­ter­day’s Cin­drella Ser­vice is get­ting bat­tle ready.

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