In­dia’s Con­ven­tional Sub­ma­rine Force Present and Fu­ture


The DAC, ap­proved on Jan­uary 31, 2019, the con­struc­tion of six diesel-elec­tric sub­marines with AIP at a cost of over ` 45,000 crore (about $6.3 bil­lion). This is the sec­ond project un­der the MoD’s am­bi­tious Strate­gic Part­ner­ship (SP) model that aims at pro­vid­ing a sig­nif­i­cant fil­lip to the Gov­ern­ment’s ‘Make in In­dia’ pro­gramme

The In­dian Navy’S (In) cur­rent con­cept of eval­u­at­ing com­bat power in the ‘num­ber of plat­forms’ has shifted to ‘ca­pa­bil­ity’ based com­bat power. Thus their per­spec­tive plans are now tilted to­wards this con­cept. The In’s 30 years sub­ma­rine con­struc­tion plan launched in 1999 has not pro­ceeded as an­tic­i­pated.

The Mar­itime Ca­pa­bil­ity Per­spec­tive Plan (MCPP) launched in 2012, en­vis­ages at least 18 con­ven­tional sub­marines as com­pared to 24 in 1997. how­ever the com­ple­tion of the Kal­vari Class project and the fi­nal ap­proval to build six ad­di­tional diesel-elec­tric sub­marines with Air In­de­pen­dent Propul­sion (AIP) un­der Project 75 (In­dia), when given will lever­age to­wards fill­ing the chasm in the ex­ist­ing and fu­ture ca­pa­bil­ity based com­bat power.

Cur­rent Force Level

Kal­vari Class. INS Kal­vari is the first of the six Scor­pene class sub­marines built un­der Project 75 which was com­mis­sioned on De­cem­ber 14, 2017. The sec­ond sub­ma­rine un­der this class InS Khan­deri was com­mis­sioned on Septem­ber 28, 2019. The Kal­vari-class is re­ported to be armed with French-made ex­o­cet SM39 anti-ship mis­sile; a sea-skim­ming, sub­sonic, solid­fu­elled anti-ship mis­sile with an es­ti­mated

oper­a­tional range of 50 to 70 km and heavy­weight tor­pe­does. each sub­ma­rine can carry up to 18 anti-ship mis­siles or heavy-weight tor­pe­does. At present Karanj and vela are un­der con­struc­tion. The fifth sub­ma­rine is named InS va­gir and the sixth InS vagsheer. The fi­nal de­liv­ery of the re­main­ing sub­marines is planned by 2022.

Sind­hughosh Class. Sind­hughosh class sub­marines are the Kilo class diesel-elec­tric sub­marines. They are des­ig­nated 877eKM, and were built un­der a con­tract be­tween Rosvooruzh­e­nie and the In­dia’s Min­istry of De­fence. There are nine sub­marines in this class, com­mis­sioned be­tween April 1986 to July 2000.

Shishu­mar Class. Shishu­mar class ves­sels ( Type 1500) are diesel-elec­tric sub­marines de­vel­oped by the Ger­man yard howaldtswe­rke-Deutsche Werft (hDW). The first two of these ves­sels were built by hDW at Kiel, while the re­main­der have been built at Mazagon Dock Limited, Mum­bai. The sub­marines were com­mis­sioned be­tween 1986 and 1994. There are a to­tal of four Shishu­mar sub­marines.

The cur­rent force level of con­ven­tional sub­marines is 15 with the old­est be­ing more than three decades old and the lat­est has been com­mis­sioned this year. Some older sub­marines may re­tire by the time all the Kal­vari class sub­marines are com­mis­sioned in 2022 thus the void of force level may still ex­ist.

Life Ex­ten­sion and Re­fit

To over­come the voids in com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity, the In has re­sorted to up­grad­ing six of its sub­marines-four of Sind­hughosh class and two of Shishu­mar class un­der a Ma­jor Re­fit and Life Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion (MRLC) pro­gramme.

Shishu­mar Class. Ger­many’s ThyssenKru­pp Marine Sys­tems ( TKMS) has been con­tracted by Mazagon Docks to up­grade two Shishu­mar-class sub­marines for ` 410 crore (about $0.05 bil­lion) con­tract. TKMS is also retrofitti­ng anti-ship Boe­ing’s Har­poon Mis­siles on these sub­marines. The up­grade is ex­pected to be com­pleted by 2021.

Sind­hughosh class. In July 2018, Rus­sia’s ship­builder Zvez­dochka and Larsen and Toubro an­nounced their part­ner­ship on an up­grade of four the Sind­hughosh­class class sub­marines at a cost of about `, 5000 crore ($ 0.7 bil­lion) which in­cludes ex­ten­sion of like and fit­ting them with Klub land at­tack cruise mis­sile.

Sub­ma­rine Force Ac­cre­tion-Project 75(I)

Ap­proval of DAC. The De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil (DAC), ap­proved on Jan­uary 31, 2019, the con­struc­tion of six diesel-elec­tric sub­marines with AIP at a cost of over ` 45,000 crore (about $6.3 bil­lion). This is the sec­ond project un­der the MoD’s am­bi­tious Strate­gic Part­ner­ship (SP) model that aims at pro­vid­ing a sig­nif­i­cant fil­lip to the Gov­ern­ment’s ‘Make in In­dia’ pro­gramme.

Ex­pres­sion of In­ter­est for six P75(I) Sub­marines. As a ma­jor ini­tia­tive to­wards ‘Make in In­dia’, the Gov­ern­ment im­me­di­ately on tak­ing over af­ter the elec­tion, is­sued the ex­pres­sion of In­ter­est ( eOI) for short­list­ing of potential In­dian Strate­gic Part­ners (SPs) for “Con­struc­tion of six Con­ven­tional Sub­marines” for P75(I) Project of the In­dian navy on June 20, 2019. The project cost is about ` 45,000 crore. This is the sec­ond project be­ing un­der­taken un­der the lat­est Strate­gic Part­ner­ship (SP) Model, with the first be­ing the pro­cure­ment of 111 naval Util­ity he­li­copters ( nUh). This would pro­vide a ma­jor boost to the in­dige­nous de­sign and con­struc­tion ca­pa­bil­ity of sub­marines in In­dia, in ad­di­tion to bring­ing in the lat­est sub­ma­rine de­sign and tech­nolo­gies as part of the project. The eOI for short­list­ing of In­dian SPs has been up­loaded on MoD and In­dian navy web­sites. The eOI for short­list­ing of OeMs was to be is­sued in two weeks. The SPs in col­lab­o­ra­tion with OeMs have been man­dated to set up ded­i­cated man­u­fac­tur­ing lines for these sub­marines in In­dia and make In­dia the global hub for sub­ma­rine de­sign and pro­duc­tion. All six sub­marines un­der this project will be built in In­dia by the se­lected In­dian SP in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the se­lected OeM. In ad­di­tion, In would have the op­tion to man­u­fac­ture six ad­di­tional sub­marines un­der the project. The project would not only aid in boost­ing the core sub­ma­rine/ ship build­ing in­dus­try but would also greatly en­hance man­u­fac­tur­ing/in­dus­trial sec­tor, es­pe­cially the MSMes by de­vel­op­ment of an in­dus­trial eco-sys­tem for man­u­fac­ture of as­so­ci­ated spares/sys­tems/equip­ment re­lated to sub­marines. The potential SPs are ex­pected to re­spond to the eOI within two months. The In­dian com­pa­nies would be short­listed based on their ca­pa­bil­ity for in­te­gra­tion of sys­tem of sys­tems, ex­per­tise in ship­build­ing do­main and the fi­nan­cial strength. The OeMs would be short­listed pri­mar­ily based on their sub­ma­rine de­sign meet­ing the In’s Qual­i­ta­tive Re­quire­ments and qual­i­fy­ing the Trans­fer of Tech­nol­ogy and In­dige­nous Con­tent cri­te­ria. The over­all aim would be to pro­gres­sively build in­dige­nous ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the pri­vate sec­tor to de­sign, de­velop and man­u­fac­ture com­plex weapon sys­tems for the fu­ture needs of the Armed Forces. This will be an im­por­tant step to­wards meet­ing broader na­tional ob­jec­tives, en­cour­ag­ing self-re­liance and align­ing the de­fence sec­tor with the ‘Make in In­dia’ ini­tia­tive of the Gov­ern­ment.

Me­dia re­ported that three In­dian ship­yards- L&T, Mazagon Docks Ship­builders Limited and hin­dus­tan Ship­yard Limitedare ex­pected to re­spond to the eOI. The In­dian com­pa­nies would be short­listed based on their ca­pa­bil­ity for in­te­gra­tion of sys­tem of sys­tems, ex­per­tise in ship­build­ing do­main and the fi­nan­cial strength. The next step would be to is­sue the Re­quest for Pro­posal to the short­listed com­pa­nies. Four lead­ing for­eign man­u­fac­tur­ers of sub­ma­rine i.e. France’s naval Group, Swe­den’s Saab, Rus­sia’s Ru­bin De­sign Bureau and Ger­many’s ThyssenKru­pp Marine Sys­tems are ex­pected to re­spond to this eOI.

The man­u­fac­tur­ers would be short­listed based on their sub­ma­rine de­sign meet­ing the navy’s re­quire­ments and qual­i­fy­ing the Trans­fer of Tech­nol­ogy and In­dige­nous Con­tent cri­te­ria. how­ever no fur­ther de­tails have been re­leased.

Project De­tails. It is un­der­stood the six next gen­er­a­tion diesel sub­marines will have AIP to al­low them to stay sub­merged for longer pe­ri­ods. The sub­marines will be armed with both BrahMos (for the sea and land tar­gets) and tube-launched tor­pe­does for anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare. A min­i­mum of 30 per cent off­sets are ex­pected based on the cur­rent de­fense off­sets pol­icy man­dates.

Role of con­ven­tional sub­marines

Sub­ma­rine as a Plat­form. An ef­fec­tive sub­ma­rine should have fea­tures of stealth, high mo­bil­ity, pre­cise tar­get­ing sys­tems, min­i­mum lo­gis­ti­cal re­quire­ments and oper­a­tional au­ton­omy. Sub­marines can lurk in deep wa­ters silently and covertly to strike key tar­gets with pre­ci­sion mis­siles by sur­prise; or to de­ploy ground forces and pro­vide sup­port. In cer­tain dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions it may be the only sur­viv­able plat­form.

Sea Con­trol. The ex­er­cise of sea con­trol and sea de­nial to ad­ver­saries are fun­da­men­tal mis­sions of the sub­ma­rine. Sur­face plat­forms are highly en­dan­gered by sub­marines.

Pre­ci­sion Strike. Long pe­ri­ods of silent pres­ence in a par­tic­u­lar area is re­quired in or­der to ob­serve, iden­tify and de­stroy vi­tal tar­gets.

Coastal De­fence. Sub­marines which can op­er­ate in the lit­torals can pro­vide ef­fec­tive coastal de­fence. Diesel-elec­tric sub­marines are ide­ally suited for this short­ranged mis­sion. Ger­many is a global leader in de­sign­ing small, stealthy sub­marines that can ef­fec­tively pa­trol lit­toral wa­ters at a frac­tion of the cost of nu­clear-pow­ered sub­marines as they use hy­dro­gen fuel cells for power, which al­low sub­marines to op­er­ate nearly silently for weeks at a time without us­ing ex­pen­sive nu­clear re­ac­tors.

In­ser­tion and Ex­trac­tion of Spe­cial Forces. Sub­marines which can op­er­ate in the lit­torals are well suited for this role.

Co­or­di­nated Fire Sup­port. Sub­marines which can op­er­ate close to the lit­torals should be able to pro­vide co­or­di­nated fire sup­port in sup­port of forces both ashore and afloat.

In­tel­li­gence Col­lec­tion. By covert sur­veil­lance a sub­ma­rine can gather tac­ti­cal

and strate­gi­cal in­tel­li­gence.

Theatre Anti-sub­ma­rine War­fare. This is aimed for the pro­tec­tion of the sealift, both in lit­toral ar­eas and in the open ocean, as well as strate­gic anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare op­er­a­tions and mon­i­tor­ing ad­ver­saries ac­tiv­i­ties.

Anti-sur­face War­fare. Ca­pa­ble of at­tack­ing mer­chant and mil­i­tary tar­gets and should be able to de­stroy small, shal­low-draft ves­sels.

Mine Op­er­a­tions. To lay mines covertly and dis­abling hos­tile sub­marines is a key method of sea con­trol.

Fu­ture Tech­nolo­gies for Sub­marines

Stealth. Stealth is the key fac­tor of sub­ma­rine naval war­fare which en­hances the abil­ity to op­er­ate any­where, at any time, covertly as a tac­ti­cal and strate­gic de­ter­rent. A sub­ma­rine’s abil­ity to avoid de­tec­tion is de­fined in terms of its acous­tic sig­na­ture. There are many sources con­tribut­ing to a sub­marines acous­tic sig­na­ture like machin­ery and other propul­sion-re­lated vi­bra­tions enter the water through the hull and ra­di­ate in all di­rec­tions. each type of noise has a unique pat­tern, which can dif­fer with speed, depth, and water con­di­tions. Stealth tech­nolo­gies con­tinue to im­prove and are in­creas­ingly avail­able to retro­fit older sub­marines. Hull coat­ings, im­proved pro­pel­ler de­sign, and qui­eted propul­sion plant equip­ment re­duce the sub­marines over­all noise levels, es­pe­cially at high speeds. In­cor­po­ra­tion of AIP, ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy based bat­ter­ies and im­proved qui­et­ing mea­sures will re­duce the sub­marines vul­ner­a­bil­ity to acous­tic de­tec­tion to even a greater de­gree. In lit­toral re­gions, nona­cous­tic sig­na­tures will be­come in­creas­ingly im­por­tant. A sub­ma­rine ex­hibits var­i­ous non-acous­tic sig­na­tures, some of which are highly de­pen­dent on the sub­marines speed or depth. The main one is the mag­netic and elec­tri­cal fields gen­er­ated as a re­sult of the ma­te­ri­als used in the con­struc­tion of the sub­ma­rine. Sys­tems are cur­rently avail­able to re­duce a sub­ma­rine’s mag­netic and elec­tri­cal sig­na­tures. Other non-acous­tic sig­na­tures in­clude the sub­marines wake, con­tam­i­na­tion within the wake from bub­bles or chem­i­cals, radar re­flec­tiv­ity and the heat gen­er­ated by the sub­marines propul­sion plant.

Im­proved Bat­tery Tech­nol­ogy. ear­lier sub­ma­rine bat­ter­ies al­lowed sub­merged op­er­a­tions at slow speed for about 12 hours. The modern bat­tery de­signs al­low the sub­ma­rine to re­main sub­merged for about three to four days. Ad­vanced sub­ma­rine bat­tery de­signs are un­der de­vel­op­ment world­wide and could in­crease en­durance up to 10 to 12 days of sub­merged op­er­a­tions.

Air In­de­pen­dent Propul­sion (AIP). AIP is a tech­no­log­i­cal break-through for con­ven­tional sub­marines as the diesel-run en­ergy gen­er­a­tor re­quires ex­te­rior air for com­bus­tion of the con­ven­tional sub­ma­rine but those with an AIP sys­tem use en­ergy sources that do not re­quire sur­face air as they use fuel cells. This al­lows them to be sub­merged without be­ing de­tected for much longer than diesel elec­tri­cal sub­marines. The fuel cell al­lows the sub­ma­rine to gen­er­ate the en­ergy it needs from hy­dro­gen and oxy­gen. how­ever, hy­dro­gen gen­er­a­tion sys­tem needs very large stor­age space which ef­fects the sub­ma­rine’s weight and stor­age space thus sub­marines with AIP need to be larger in size. To solve this prob­lem, SeneR has part­nered with ThyssenKru­pp Marine Sys­tems to de­velop an AIP based on the methanol re­form­ing pro­cess, which al­lows the hy­dro­gen re­quired to feed the fuel cell to be pro­duced on board.

Sen­sors. Rapid de­vel­op­ments in com­puter and sig­nal pro­cess­ing has re­sulted in in­creas­ingly ca­pa­ble sen­sor suites and tac­ti­cal in­for­ma­tion sys­tems with more au­to­mated func­tions, making it eas­ier to de­tect, clas­sify and en­gage tar­gets suc­cess­fully with fewer op­er­a­tors. Fu­ture sonar suites in­clude ad­vances such as flank ar­rays, towed pas­sive sonar ar­rays, real-time self­noise mon­i­tor­ing, and ad­vanced sig­nal pro­cess­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties. A low-end diesel sub­ma­rine is likely to have a sys­tem equiv­a­lent to the present KILO SS class sonar suite, which has a ca­pa­ble ar­ray in­te­grated to sim­ple pro­ces­sors. With en­hanced sig­nal pro­cess­ing and dis­plays cou­pled to the ex­ist­ing ar­ray, a low-end diesel sub­ma­rine could be­come Anti-Sub­ma­rine War­fare (ASW) ca­pa­ble. Sev­eral na­tions have shown an in­ter­est in sub­ma­rine-mounted non-acous­tic ASW sys­tems to com­ple­ment their acous­tic sen­sors. Such sys­tems may be avail­able in the fu­ture.

Weapons. Tor­pe­does in­creas­ingly have greater de­struc­tive power. eight ma­jor pro­duc­ers of­fer at least 21 mod­els of sub­ma­rine-launched tor­pe­does for ex­port. The spec­trum of tor­pedo sys­tems and tech­nolo­gies spans from sim­ple straightru­n­ning weapons to wake-hom­ing and so­phis­ti­cated acous­tic hom­ing tor­pe­does. Modern sub­ma­rine-launched heavy­weight tor­pe­does can lit­er­ally break some war­ships in half. The pro­lif­er­a­tion of rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sive wake-hom­ing tor­pe­does has put “fire and for­get” weapons, which are highly lethal and dif­fi­cult to counter. Some ex­am­ples are the Black Shark of White­head Ale­nia Sis­temi Subac­quei (WASS), F21 heavy­weight tor­pedo from naval Group, Spearfish ad­vanced heavy weight tor­pedo from BAE Sys­tems, DM2A4 See­hecht from At­las elek­tronik, Mk48 ADCAP Mod 7 Com­mon Broad­band Ad­vanced Sonar Sys­tem (CBASS) de­vel­oped by Lock­heed Martin, MK 54 built by Raytheon and many more.

Cruise Mis­siles. Rus­sia, France and the US mar­ket sub­ma­rine-launched anti-ship cruise mis­siles. Modern anti-ship cruise mis­siles can be dif­fi­cult to de­tect and al­low lit­tle re­ac­tion time. China has de­vel­oped yJ-18 (nATO des­ig­na­tion Ch-SS-nX-13[5]) in 2015 and it is in ser­vice since then. Fu­ture tech­nolo­gies that will be in­cor­po­rated into cruise mis­siles in­clude im­proved stealth, guid­ance sys­tems, seek­ers, dig­i­tal pro­cess­ing, and high-per­for­mance propul­sion sys­tems.

Anti-sub­ma­rine Cruise Mis­sile. Rus­sia is cur­rently the only coun­try that pos­sesses a sub­ma­rine launched anti-sub­ma­rine cruise mis­sile ca­pa­bil­ity. how­ever, China has ex­pressed an in­ter­est in de­vel­op­ing its own sub­ma­rine launched ASW mis­sile and may seek Rus­sian help.

Off-board Ve­hi­cles. Off-board UUvs and UAvs de­ployed by sub­marines will ex­tend the bat­tle space and en­hance sens­ing ca­pa­bil­ity while re­duc­ing risk to the sub­ma­rine and its crew. They will also im­prove the ef­fec­tive­ness of for­ward-de­ployed sub­ma­rine forces. Ad­vance tech­nol­ogy and de­sign are re­quired for com­pact en­ergy source, sen­sor, and han­dling re­quire­ments. Sub­ma­rine wide-band high-data-rate com­mu­ni­ca­tion with off-board ve­hi­cles will be es­sen­tial for in­te­grated force em­ploy­ment.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: In­dian Navy

INS Kalveri

PHO­TO­GRAPH: In­dian Navy

Khan­deri, the sec­ond of In­dian Navy’s Scor­pene class stealth sub­ma­rine be­ing launched

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