In­dian Navy's Ac­qui­si­tion and Mod­erni­sa­tion Plans

De­spite the se­vere set­backs es­pe­cially in sub­ma­rine build-up plan caus­ing se­ri­ous ca­pa­bil­ity gaps, In­dian Navy’s ac­qui­si­tion and mod­erni­sa­tion plans, span­ning over three plan pe­ri­ods 2005-2022 are well on track, although some pres­ti­gious projects have mis


IN sup­port of the na­tion’s grow­ing strengths and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, the In­dian Navy is de­ter­mined to cre­ate and sus­tain a three di­men­sional; tech­nol­ogy en­abled and net­worked force ca­pa­ble of safe­guard­ing our mar­itime in­ter­ests on the high seas and pro­ject­ing com­bat power across the lit­toral.

the In­dian Navy’s Mar­itime Mil­i­tary Strat­egy which flows from the above “Vi­sion state­ment” has adopted a generic ca­pa­bil­ity build­ing ap­proach. In­tro­duc­ing the Vi­sion, it stip­u­lates, “the In­dian Navy is to­day a po­tent and ca­pa­ble force which is highly re­garded for its pro­fes­sional com­pe­tence. the planned in­duc­tion of ad­vanced plat­forms and tech­nol­ogy, and cre­ation of mod­ern in­fra­struc­ture, promise to boost the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the ser­vice even fur­ther in the near fu­ture”.

In­dian Navy’s Mar­itime Ca­pa­bil­ity Per­spec­tive Plan

Air­craft Car­rier Pro­gramme. the ac­qui­si­tion of ex­ten­sively re­fit­ted and mod­ernised, for­mer rus­sian ICBM car­rier Ad­mi­ral Gor­shkov, com­mis­sioned as INs Vikra­ma­ditya has added new di­men­sion to blue water ca­pa­bil­ity of In­dian Navy. INs Vikra­ma­ditya is cur­rently the sole air­craft car­rier en­gaged in ex­ten­sive fly­ing oper­a­tions with MiG 29K air­craft as

the sole fixed wing fighter into her Air Wing.

Con­struc­tion of pres­ti­gious 37,500 tonnes In­dige­nous Air­craft Car­rier (IAC-1) is on track and is likely to be com­mis­sioned by 2020. Vikrant would em­bark a mix of 30 air­craft, in­clud­ing MiG-29Ks and ro­tary wing as­sets to in­clude KA-31, Air­borne early Warn­ing ( AeW) he­li­copters. fixed wing air­craft oper­a­tions would be based on short take-off but Ar­rested re­cov­ery (STOBAR) con­cept on an an­gled flight deck with a 12 to 14º ski-jump.

Con­sid­er­ing the com­plex­ity of de­sign de­vel­op­ment and con­struc­tion, sys­tems in­te­gra­tion, the ges­ta­tion pe­riod for IAC-2 to be chris­tened as INs Vishal, could well span over 10-15 years. It is learnt that IAC-2 of 65,000-tonne will have a con­ven­tional propul­sion sys­tem with Cat­a­pult As­sisted take-off But Ar­rested re­cov­ery (CA­toBAr) which would of­fer flex­i­bil­ity for launch­ing fight­ers as well as heav­ier air­craft for sur­veil­lance, early-warn­ing, elec­tronic war­fare and other oper­a­tions.

Projects 17 & 17A. All four ships of project 17 stealth fri­gates built by MDL have been com­mis­sioned. these ships are ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing two ad­vanced multi-role he­li­copters. project 17A com­prises seven stealth fri­gates with ad­vanced fea­tures and tech­nol­ogy up­grades is a fol­low-on pro­gramme of project 17. the con­struc­tion load of project 17A will be shared be­tween MDL for four ships and Grse for three ships.

Projects 15A & 15B. project 15A com­pris­ing three fol­low-on Delhi class guided mis­sile de­stroy­ers have been named as the Kolkata Class. the sec­ond and third ships have been named as Kochi and Bengaluru. these ships are con­sid­er­ably dif­fer­ent from its pre­de­ces­sors with the in­cor­po­ra­tion of stealth fea­tures and ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies. Ma­jor changes in­clude the fit­ment of up to 16 ver­ti­cally launched BrahMos mis­siles and the Barak NG, Lr-sAM jointly de­vel­oped by DrDo with Is­rael’s IAI, as also new sen­sors. the Govern­ment has also ap­proved an ad­di­tional four ships of the same class to be des­ig­nated as project 15B and to be con­structed at MDL.

Project 1135.6-Tal­war Class. three fol­low-on tal­war class GM fri­gates were com­mis­sioned as INs tej, tarkash and trikand. the ma­jor change in the new se­ries of stealth fri­gates is re­place­ment of the Klub mis­siles with BrahMos sys­tem. there are re­ports of pos­si­ble ac­qui­si­tion of ad­di­tional three ships of the same class to be con­structed in rus­sia and brought to In­dia for in­te­gra­tion of propul­sion, weapons and an­cil­lary sys­tems, pos­si­bly at Goa ship­yard Ltd.

Project 28 ASW Corvettes. four new stealth AsW corvettes in­dige­nously de­signed, built by Grse, Kolkata, have been com­mis­sioned. At 2,500 tonnes and de­signed for a min­imised sig­na­ture pro­file to pro­vide stealth ca­pa­bil­ity, these ships would con­sid­er­ably aug­ment the Navy’s AsW ca­pa­bil­ity.

Mines Counter Mea­sures Ves­sels (MCMVs)

the De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil has given the go-ahead to Goa ship­yard Ltd (GsL) for the con­struc­tion of all eight MCMV with the op­tion of ad­di­tional ships, un­der strate­gic part­ner­ship model. the project is to re­place 12 ag­ing pondicherry and Kar­war class minesweep­ers by 2020. In­dian Navy re­quires at least 24 MCMVs to clear mines laid by en­emy war­ships and air­craft to block­ade har­bours dur­ing war.

Shal­low Water ASW Crafts

Govern­ment has ap­proved in­duc­tion of 16 shal­low water AsW crafts to be in­dig- enously built and the pro­cure­ment process for the same is un­der­way.

Am­phibi­ous Ca­pa­bil­ity

With the in­duc­tion of the land­ing plat­form dock (LpD) Jalashwa, In­dian Navy has con­sid­er­ably aug­mented its am­phibi­ous ca­pa­bil­ity. To­gether with the five land­ing ship tanks (Large), a sealift ca­pa­bil­ity for over 3500 troops and a squadron of ar­mour now ex­ists. to aug­ment its am­phibi­ous lift ca­pa­bil­ity, In­dian Navy is now look­ing to build larger am­phibi­ous ships of the LpD va­ri­ety. this project will be pur­sued through ex­ter- nal de­sign col­lab­o­ra­tion on the model for the IAC project. the case for four multi-role land­ing plat­form docks is be­ing pro­gressed with two pri­vate ship­yards – L&t and re­liance Naval and en­gi­neer­ing Ltd. the con­tract is ex­pected to be con­cluded shortly.

Fleet Sup­port Ships

The 2008 order for a fleet tanker on Ital­ian ship­builder fin­can­terri had a fol­lowon op­tion of up to three tankers. In­dian Navy has now ex­er­cised this op­tion for one fol­low-on ship. the in­duc­tion of two ships would en­able In­dian Navy to en­sure the avail­abil­ity of at least three such fleet sup­port ships at any time. Govern­ment has also ap­proved in­duc­tion of five fleet sup­port ships to be in­dige­nously con­structed.

Sub­ma­rine Arm

Scor­pene Project 75. The first project un­der the per­spec­tive plan was project 75, scor­pene for in­dige­nous con­struc­tion of six con­ven­tional stealth sub­marines un­der trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy ar­range­ments with DCNs, france (now Naval Group). Af­ter the de­lay of more than a decade and nu­mer­ous con­tro­ver­sies the first of line of the project, INs Kal­vari, an at­tack stealth sub­ma­rine was com­mis­sioned on De­cem­ber 14, 2017. As per avail­able re­ports the de­liv­ery of all six boats is ex­pected to com­plete by 2021.

Mod­erni­sa­tion Plan. Mod­erni­sa­tion and up­grad­ing of ca­pa­bil­i­ties of 877eKM class and hDW, shishu­mar class sub­marines were un­der­taken. the mod­erni­sa­tion en­tailed ser­vice life ex­ten­sion as also up­grad­ing the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the rel­a­tively newer sub­marines of the class. for in­stance, retro-fit­ment of tor­pedo-tube launched mis­sile sys­tem with anti-ship­ping and land at­tack ver­sions pro­vided teeth to 877eKM sub­marines. Like­wise, all ma­jor ma­chiner­ies, aux­il­iaries, propul­sion sys­tem, sen­sors, etc. ei­ther un­der­went ma­jor over­haul or re­placed with ad­vanced ver­sions to ex­tend the op­er­a­tional life un­til year 2025.

Project 75 (In­dia). project 75 (In­dia) is a se­quel to scor­pene project 75 to boost the ethos of self-re­liance through in­di­geni­sa­tion. project 75 (In­dia) was re­sus­ci­tated and the Govern­ment pro­mul­gated rfI in early

Con­sid­er­ing the com­plex­ity of de­sign de­vel­op­ment and con­struc­tion, sys­tems in­te­gra­tion, the ges­ta­tion pe­riod for IAC-II to be chris­tened as INS Vishal, could well span over 10-15 years

2017. Global RFI was is­sued to six lead­ing ship­builders; Naval Group, france (for­mer DCNs), ThyssenKrupp Marine sys­tems, Ger­many, rosoboronex­port-ru­bin De­sign Bureau, rus­sia, Na­van­tia, spain, saab, swe­den and the Mitsubishi-Kawasaki heavy In­dus­tries Com­bine, Ja­pan to par­tic­i­pate in build­ing six ad­vanced stealth sub­marines at an es­ti­mated 70,000 crore ($10.9 bil­lion) in col­lab­o­ra­tion with an In­dian ship­yard. In tan­dem In­dian Navy will for­mu­late the Naval staff Qual­i­ta­tive re­quire­ments be­fore the for­mal rfp is is­sued. the six diesel-elec­tric sub­marines con­ceived un­der Project 75 (In­dia) are to be fit­ted out with land-at­tack cruise mis­siles, air-in­de­pen­dent propul­sion for greater un­der­wa­ter en­durance, and the ca­pa­bil­ity to in­te­grate in­dige­nous weapons and sen­sors as and when these are de­vel­oped. Mitsubishi-Kawasaki heavy In­dus­tries Com­bine, Ja­pan and Na­van­tia, spain have how­ever, de­clined to re­spond to rfI. there is a long and te­dious road ahead for the project to fruc­tify. In the first stage ca­pa­bil­ity assessment of the In­dian ship­yard which has ca­pa­bil­ity of en­ter­ing into strate­gic part­ner­ship with for­eign col­lab­o­ra­tor will be un­der­taken. this process of se­lec­tion could take as much as two years to com­plete. there­after the tech­ni­cal eval­u­a­tion, com­mer­cial bids eval­u­a­tion, cost ne­go­ti­a­tions, con­tract fi­nal­i­sa­tion, etc. Hence, even if the project is fast-tracked, the first sub­ma­rine can­not be ex­pected be­fore the year 2027.

Nu­clear Pow­ered Sub­marines. for strate­gic de­ter­rence In­dia needs at least six nu­clear pow­ered at­tack sub­marines (ssN) and four nu­clear pow­ered sub­marines with nu­clear-tipped mis­siles (ssBN). In fe­bru­ary 2015, Govern­ment of In­dia ap­proved the con­struc­tion of six SSNs. The first in­dige­nous ssBN INs Ari­hant was com­mis­sioned in 2016. Un­der a clas­si­fied pro­gramme three more ssBNs are un­der con­struc­tion. the time­lines for six ssNs and three ssBNs are not avail­able. In ad­di­tion to INs Chakra there are plans to lease sec­ond ssN from rus­sia for 10 years un­der $1.5 bil­lion deal.

Naval Avi­a­tion

Car­rier Borne Multi-Role Fight­ers. Along with the ac­qui­si­tion of INs Vikra­ma­ditya fourth gen­er­a­tion Mikoyan, MiG-29K, mul­ti­role fighter was in­ducted which is now the cen­tre­piece of the Air Wing of Vikra­ma­ditya. Ac­cord­ingly, MiG-29K and te­jas (Navy) were ear­marked as Air Wing for un­der con­struc­tion IAC-1, Vikrant. how­ever, in lieu of te­jas (Navy), In­dian Navy has be­gun a search for a multi-role car­rier borne fight­ers (MrCBf) for IAC-1 and its fol­low-on. the rfI has elicited en­thu­si­as­tic re­sponse from all lead­ing global man­u­fac­tur­ers to an­swer queries on tech­ni­cal pa­ram­e­ters, bud­getary es­ti­mates, likely level of in­di­geni­sa­tion, trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy and sched­ule of de­liv­er­ies af­ter a con­tract is inked. french, Swedish, Rus­sian and Amer­i­can firms have been served the rfI for the project to equip IAC-1, Vikrant and IAC-2.

rfI re­quired de­tails whether the air­craft is sin­gle or twin-seat (or avail­able as both), and if it has one or two en­gines; whether it can per­form short take-off but ar­rested re­cov­ery or cat­a­pult as­sisted take­off but ar­rested re­cov­ery oper­a­tions (or both); whether the air­craft is al­ready in op­er­a­tional use or not; whether hel­met­mounted dis­plays and large-area dis­plays are in­te­grated and fit­ted; is auto-land­ing an op­tion; and whether or not an ac­tive elec­tron­i­cally scanned ar­ray radar is fit­ted.

Cur­rently, six air­craft are com­pat­i­ble, namely; Das­sault’s rafale, Boe­ing’s f/A-18 su­per hornet, rus­sian MIG-29K, Lock­heed Martin f-35B and f-35C, and Gripen from saab, swe­den. While f/A-18, su­per hornet, rafale and MIG-29K are twin en­gine jets, the re­main­ing three have sin­gle en­gine. re­sponses re­ceived to rfI are be­ing eval­u­ated. rfp is ex­pected to be pro­mul­gated by mid-2018 and the in­duc­tion time­lines will be aligned with the op­er­a­tional­i­sa­tion of IAC-1.

Mar­itime Pa­trol and Re­con­nais­sance. A true game-changer and most tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced and in­ten­sive plat­form Boe­ing, po­sei­don p-8I, Long-range Mar­itime re­con­nais­sance & Anti-sub­ma­rine War­fare Air­craft (LrMr & AsW) has been most suc­cess­fully in­ducted. the In­dian Navy is truly proud with the in­ven­tory of p-8I air­craft grad­u­ally swelling to 12 air­craft, with pos­si­bil­ity of ad­di­tional 12 air­craft ac­quired in due course.

In order to bridge the gaps within the spec­trum of sur­veil­lance and re­con­nais- sance do­main this spec­trum has been fur­ther bi­fur­cated into medium range mar­itime re­con­nais­sance (MrMr) and short­range mar­itime re­con­nais­sance (srMr). the ac­qui­si­tion process for nine yet to be iden­ti­fied MRMR air­craft is in the works with no def­i­nite time­lines for its avail­abil­ity.

Naval Util­ity He­li­copters. In­dian Navy is fac­ing acute short­age of naval util­ity heli­copter ( Nuh) for re­plac­ing its ag­ing fleet of Chetak he­li­copters for the front­line fri­gates and off­shore pa­trol ves­sels with small-decks and air­craft car­ri­ers, as also for the shore based flights to ex­tend sup­port out at sea for the smaller ships not de­signed to carry Nuh.

Ac­cep­tance of Ne­ces­sity for pro­cure­ment of 111 Nuh worth 21,738 crore ($3.2 bil­lion) was ac­corded by the De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil un­der the strate­gic part­ner­ship model to give a ma­jor boost to in­dige­nous de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the coun­try, es­pe­cially in the Naval Avi­a­tion seg­ment.

rfp is ex­pected to be is­sued shortly to orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers ( oeM) for the first 16 he­li­copters to be im­ported in fly­away con­di­tion, with the bal­ance 95 to be man­u­fac­tured in In­dia by an In­dian man­u­fac­turer in part­ner­ship with the se­lected global oeM. Likely oeMs to par­tic­i­pate in the ten­der are; eu­ro­copter’s As565 pan­ther, siko­rsky’s s-76B, and a mar­itime ver­sion of Agus­taWest­land’s AW109 Koala. Bell and rus­sian he­li­copters could also of­fer own prod­uct.

Naval Multi-Role He­li­copters. In­dian Navy plans to ac­quire 123 Naval Mul­ti­role he­li­copters ( NMrh) to be used as ship borne flights of two he­li­copters each for its front­line de­stroy­ers and fri­gates to form in­te­gral air for crit­i­cal oper­a­tions out at sea. RFI for NMRH was floated by MoD glob­ally on Au­gust 22, 2017. Apart from Nh90, con­tenders for NMrh bid could in­clude the Lock­heed Martin/siko­rsky Mh60r and eu­ro­copter’s eC 725 Cara­cal.

Ad­vanced Early Warn­ing Heli­copter. Ac­qui­si­tions of rus­sian make Kamov. Ka 31, an ad­vance early warn­ing (AeW) heli­copter, nearly a decade and a half ago has en­hanced the AeW ca­pa­bil­ity of the In­dian Naval Avi­a­tion con­sid­er­ably. In­ven­tory of Ka 31 is be­ing aug­mented grad­u­ally.

Fu­ture Projects

fol­low­ing fu­tur­is­tic pro­grammes are un­der ac­tive con­sid­er­a­tion of the In­dian Navy:

●● Next-gen­er­a­tion de­stroy­ers

●● Next-gen­er­a­tion fri­gates

●● Next-gen­er­a­tion corvettes

●●Nex- gen­er­a­tion MCMVs


De­spite the se­vere set­backs es­pe­cially in sub­ma­rine build-up plan caus­ing se­ri­ous ca­pa­bil­ity gaps, In­dian Navy’s ac­qui­si­tion and mod­erni­sa­tion plans, span­ning over three plan pe­ri­ods 2005-2022 are well on track, although some pres­ti­gious projects have missed the de­liv­ery mile­stones. All of naval plat­forms are hugely tech­nol­ogy in­ten­sive and thus ex­tremely com­plex in na­ture, as a con­se­quence suf­fer from long and some­times un­pre­dictable ges­ta­tion pe­ri­ods in fruition. Chal­lenges of tech­nol­ogy in­duc­tion and ab­sorp­tion, time and cost over-runs can only be em­bat­tled by ef­fi­cient and ac­count­able de­ci­sion mak­ing pro­cesses and mech­a­nism at all lev­els, es­pe­cially at the Govern­ment ech­e­lon.

Nev­er­the­less, In­dian Navy has im­pec­ca­ble record of proudly march­ing the in­dige­nous path of self-re­liance for its force ac­cre­tion and de­vel­op­ment. It is a mat­ter of na­tional pride that In­dian Navy has showed the way how best the ad­vanced and tech­nol­ogy in­ten­sive plat­forms from di­verse sources could be ac­quired, ab­sorbed and op­ti­mally ex­ploited to aug­ment its op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ties to emerge as a Blue Water Navy in true sense.

It is a mat­ter of na­tional pride that In­dian Navy has showed the way how best the ad­vanced and tech­nol­ogy in­ten­sive plat­forms from di­verse sources could be ac­quired, ab­sorbed and op­ti­mally ex­ploited to aug­ment its op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ties to emerge as a Blue Water Navy in true sense

PHO­TO­GRAPH: In­dian Navy

INS Vikra­ma­ditya has added new di­men­sion to blue water ca­pa­bil­ity of In­dian Navy

PHO­TO­GRAPH: Cochin Ship­yard

In­dige­nous Air­craft Car­rier is likely to be com­mis­sioned by 2020

PHO­TO­GRAPHS: In­dian Navy

(Top) INS Kal­vari at­tack stealth sub­ma­rine was com­mis­sioned on De­cem­ber 14, 2017; (above) In­ven­tory of Kamov Ka 31 AEW heli­copter is be­ing aug­mented grad­u­ally.

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