Kilo-class submarine to bolster Indian Navy after 10-year refit
Rajat Pandit/Times of India
23 June 2015
NEW DELHI: India will finally get a desperately-needed shot in the arm for its depleting underwater combat fleet. With INS Sindhukirti set for final "full-power trials" from Friday after being stuck in a refit for a decade, the Kilo-class submarine is expected to be formally handed over to the Navy next month.
The 3,000-tonne INS Sindhukirti's re-induction into the fleet is vital since the Navy is down to just 13 old diesel-electric submarines - barely half of them fully operational at present -- and one nuclear-powered submarine without nuclear-tipped missiles on lease from Russia.
A submarine's design or "prescribed life" is considered to be 25 years. But 10 of the 13 conventional boats are already older than that, with the others not being far behind. INS Sindhurakshak, which sank after internal explosions at Mumbai naval dockyard in August 2013 killing 18 personnel, was in fact one of the relatively newer submarines.
As reported by TOI earlier, the medium refit of the 25-year-old INS Sindhukirti, which was to be completed within three years, itself is a shocking story. Gross mismanagement, coupled with alleged perfidy by Russian experts, ensured the submarine remained stuck at Hindustan Shipyard (Visakhapatnam) since early 2006.
But the submarine is "as good as new" now, with hull renewal as well as new weapons, sonars, fire control systems and the like. The vessel will now also be capable of firing the almost 300-km Klub-S land-attack missiles from the six torpedo tubes fitted on its "nose". "The full-power trials, after the successful sea-trials, are meant to test the submarine to the extreme," said a source.
The NDA government, however, does not seem to be showing the requisite urgency to rescue the sinking submarine arm, much like the previous UPA regime. The tender for construction of six new stealth submarines with foreign collaboration, under Project-75India, is still nowhere close to being issued, said sources.
Once it is floated, it will take at least a decade to build the new submarines, which are supposed to have both land-attack missile capabilities and air-independent propulsion for greater underwater endurance. Project-75I gained "acceptance of necessity" way back in November 2007 at an estimated cost of around Rs 50,000 crore. The figure will now touch Rs 80,000 crore.
The six Scorpene submarines being constructed at Mazagon Docks are now finally slated for delivery from 2016 to 2020. But they will just replace the existing submarines, which are being flogged well past their operational life through life-extensions and upgrades.
Incidentally, four Sindhughosh-class and two Shishumar-class submarines are now slated to undergo mid-life upgrades and life extensions for Rs 4,800 crore, which was approved in August last year. Two of the Sindhughosh-class vessels will be upgraded in Russia, while the other four will undergo it in India.
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