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India to Boost Blue-Water Warfare Capability With Two New Stealth Frigates

The Navy continues to hone its war-fighting capabilities despite being
stretched in coastal security and anti-piracy operations. The force is
now on course to soon induct two more deadly stealth frigates to bolster
its growing “blue-water” warfare capabilities.

Sources say the 6,200-tonne indigenous stealth frigate INS Satpura is
likely to be commissioned in June-July, while the Russian-built
4,900-tonne INS Teg should finally be ready for induction by
September-October.

These long-awaited warships will come at a time when Navy chief Admiral
Nirmal Verma has stressed that “maintenance of war-fighting abilities”
remains the “top-most priority” for his force despite the “large number
of peacetime commitments (anti-piracy, coastal security and the like) at
hand”.

“With the security situation being fluid, we need to maintain the
organizational ability to deploy warships, submarines and aircraft at
immediate notice,” said Admiral Verma, at the naval commanders’
conference here on Tuesday.

INS Satpura and INS Teg will certainly boost combat capabilities, packed
as they are with sensors, weapons and missile systems, coupled with
their stealthy nature due to “vastly-reduced” radar, infra-red, noise,
frequency and magnetic “signatures” to beat enemy detection systems.

That’s not all. INS Satpura, the second of three indigenous stealth
frigates built under the Rs 8,101-crore Project-17 at Mazagon Docks,
will be followed by INS Sahyadri after six months. The first, INS
Shivalik, was commissioned in April last year.

Similarly, INS Teg is to be followed by its sister frigates, INS Tarkash
and INS Trikhand, built under a Rs 5,514-crore project inked with
Russia in July 2006, after gaps of six months each.

Both the Indian and Russian projects, of course, have been dogged by
huge time and cost overruns. The three warships from Russia are actually
“a follow-on order” to the first three frigates, INS Talwar, INS
Trishul and INS Tabar, inducted by India in 2003-2004 at a cost of over
Rs 3,000 crore.

Though their induction too was delayed, the Navy is quite happy with the
power the Talwar-class frigates pack. The warships have “a very high
weapon and sensor density”, including eight vertical launch cells for
the ‘Klub-N’ anti-ship and anti-submarine cruise missiles. In addition,
the three new frigates will also be armed with the 290-km BrahMos
supersonic cruise missiles.


The Shivalik-class frigates, in turn, can also deal with
“multiple-threats” in all three dimensions — air, surface and
sub-surface. Apart from Russian Shtil surface-to-air missile systems and
Klub anti-ship cruise missiles, they are also armed with the Israeli
‘Barak-I’ anti-missile defence systems to guard against Harpoon and
Exocet missiles, launched from platforms like P-3C Orion aircraft and
Agosta-90B submarines which Pakistan has acquired from US and France.

The defence ministry has also approved Project-17A to construct seven
more frigates at Mazagon Docks and GRSE in Kolkata, with even more
stealth features, for around Rs 45,000 crore. In all, the Navy has
around 30 new warships and six submarines on order as of now to maintain
its force-levels at about 140 combatants.