INS Kalvari to be commissioned by Indian Navy next week
After a long wait, India's first Scorpene-class submarine built under the Rs. 23,652 crore Project-75, INS Kalvari, is set to be commissioned by the Indian Navy (IN) next week. Meanwhile, the Mazgaon Docks Limited (MDL) will deliver INS Khanderi to the Navy in December. These are expected to provide much-needed capability enhancement to India's ageing submarine fleet. Here's all about India's submarine modernization program.
Scorpene submarines a lethal addition to India's arsenal
The Scorpene's stealth and impregnability outclass several others. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to detect the Scorpene submarines underwater by enemy fleets. They can attack with precision via tube-launched anti-ship missiles or torpedoes, underwater or above, and carry weapons on board that can reload easily. They can also undertake multiple missions including area surveillance, intelligence gathering, mine laying and anti-submarine warfare.
Alarmingly low number of submarines in India
Former Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar had previously noted that the Navy has commissioned only 2 submarines and de-commissioned 5 over the last 15 years. India is left with 13 diesel-electric submarines, half of which have crossed 3/4th of their operational lives, compared to China's 68 submarines. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defense had previously expressed dismay at the "snail's pace" of commissioning naval vessels.
We need more submarines!
The strength of India's submarine fleet presently stands at 15. For effective deterrence against China and Pakistan, the Indian Navy should have 18 diesel-electric submarines, six nuclear-powered attack submarines and four nuclear-powered submarines fitted with nuclear-tipped long-range missiles.
Indian Navy's submarine modernization program explained
The INS Kalvari is the first of six French-designed Scorpene-class submarines ordered in 2005 under the Project-75. The government approved the construction of six nuclear-powered attack submarines worth $9.5 billion in 2015. India initiated Project-75 (India) to produce advanced stealth-submarines worth $5 billion under the recently introduced Strategic Partnership model. Proposals have been invited from six foreign manufacturers, including Sweden's Saab and Germany's ThyssenKrupp.
How will delays affect India's submarine development?
Project-75 faced huge time and cost overruns. Kalvari was initially scheduled to be commissioned by 2012 with the other five ready by 2017. All six are now expected to be inducted by 2020. Moreover, the government has not even issued tenders for Project-75(I), which was kicked off after a 10-year long wait. Once manufacturers are chosen, this will take another seven-eight years for induction.