This major plan, codenamed Project-17A'', will be a strong booster dose for defence shipyards since it will be shared between Mazagon Docks (MDL) at Mumbai and Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) at Kolkata.
The CNC (contract negotiation committee) is currently underway for P-17A, which has already been approved by the defence ministry. The contract will be awarded after the final nod from the Cabinet Committee on Security. While MDL will build four, GRSE will construct the other three,'' said a source.
This comes even as the third and the final stealth frigate INS Sahyadri built by MDL, under the long-delayed ``Project-17'' at a cost of Rs 8,101 crore, is now all set to be commissioned on July 21.
Defence minister A K Antony will be travelling to Mumbai to commission the frigate, commanded by Captain S Vatsayan, like he did for the first two INS Shivalik and INS Satpura in 2010 and 2011. The seven new frigates will be ``longer, broader, faster and stealthier'' than the three 6,100-tonne Shivalik-class frigates that have a range of 5,000 nautical miles at a cruising speed of 18 knots.
The new frigates will also have the 290-km BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, apart from other advanced weapons and sensors, for a greater offensive punch in all the three dimensions (air, surface and underwater),'' said the source.
Both MDL and GRSE are undergoing modernisation, with new modular yards and 250-300 tonne goliath cranes, to enable integrated modular construction'' of the P-17A frigates in compressed shipbuilding time-frames''. The shipyards will also tie-up with a foreign know-how provider,'' he said.
The Navy is increasingly turning stealthy'' since surprise and deception are crucial in modern-day warfare. The three Talwar-class stealth frigates (Talwar, Trishul and Tabar) inducted from Russia in 2003-2004 as well as the Shivalik-class warships have already boosted the Navy's combat capabilities due to their ``vastly-reduced'' radar, infra-red, noise, frequency and magnetic signatures'' to beat enemy detection systems.