The Indian Navy’s ongoing recapitalization program is guided by its 15-year Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCPP) which calls for a 162-ship fleet – including 90 “major combatants” – by 2022.
Unfortunately, the Indian Navy (IN) does not disclose the breakdown of the 90 “major combatants” in its MCPP. But some details have emerged. This figure includes:
- 3 aircraft carriers;
- 30+ destroyers and frigates;
- 8-12 corvettes;
- 20 conventional submarines;
- 5+ nuclear submarines, and;
- 9 large offshore patrol vessels (OPVs).
Smaller combatants include 16 shallow water anti-submarine warfare (ASW) vessels and around two dozen large patrol craft. Major auxiliary forces include four large, helicopter capable amphibious dock ships, a few landing ships tank, eight 62.8-meter, 850-ton landing craft, eight or so large fleet replenishment vessels, and two submarine rescue ships. In addition, there will be at least 8 mine countermeasures vessels.
Presently, around 50 ships and submarines are on order or under construction, with all but three from Indian shipyards – a reflection of the service’s drive for indigenous warship building capabilities.
Capital ships under construction include two aircraft carriers – the 285-meter, 45,000 ton Vikramaditya (ex-Gorshkov) from Russia, whose delivery is slated for this December, and the home-built 262-meter, 40,000 ton Vikrant (also codenamed IAC 1) under Project 71. The Vikrant/IAC 1 is undergoing outfitting at Cochin Shipyard Ltd. (CSL) prior to its official launching in a year or so. Entry into service is 2015 at the earliest for this carrier.
The IN is also working on a larger, 60,000-ton class carrier, codenamed IAC 2, whose design is yet to be finalized. Unlike the first two carriers that have a 14.5 degree ski jump, the larger carrier will very likely be catapult-equipped to enable Northrop Grumman E-2D airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft operations. For now, it is not clear where this carrier is to be built. Beyond this carrier, plans call for one more carrier of the same class.
Submarines are also a crucial component of the new build programs. Around a dozen submarines are under construction, with half being nuclear-powered. Nuclear-powered boats include one more Akula-class attack boat (SSN) from Russia and, crucially, at least 3 locally designed ballistic missile submarines (SSBN).
Though India is a newcomer to this club, it is making measurable progress. Clearly, its first SSBN, the Arihant, is not comparable to contemporary SSBN designs in terms of payload. It will nevertheless be a vital component of India’s sea based nuclear deterrence. The follow-on SSBNs are expected to be progressively larger boats. Around five SSBNs are planned initially.
The other six submarines are license-built French/Spanish Scorpenes under Project 75. For a number of reasons, the program has been running about three years late. But shipbuilder Mazagon Docks Ltd. (MDL) says that the hulls of all six boats are almost completed.
The first P-75 boat is expected to be delivered in mid-2015, and all six by 2019. The last two P-75 Scorpenes are likely to be fitted with an Indian-developed air independent propulsion (AIP) system.
Surface warships under construction or close to delivery include:
- 2 more Russian-built Project 11356 Batch 2 frigates from Yantar Shipyard;
- 1 more home-built 147-meter, 6,200-ton Project 17 Shivalik stealth frigate from MDL;
- 3 163-meter, 8,000-ton Project 15A Kolkata-class destroyers with an advanced Elta MF-STAR multifunction radar and the new Indo-Israeli Barak 8 long range surface to air missile (LRSAM), also from MDL, and;
- 4 109-meter, 3,100-ton Project 28 Kamorta-class stealth anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvettes from Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE).
In addition, nine 105-meter long, 2,500-ton offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) from two yards – Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) and, in a first, five from a private shipyard, Pipavav Offshore & Defense – are under construction. This is notable given the Indian Defense Ministry’s stated intention to involve greater levels of private participation in defense and aerospace industries, which have hitherto been the exclusive preserve of Ministry of Defense (MoD) and government-owned entities, the so called public sector units (PSUs).