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Indian Navy Force Structure Development Is Driven by Blue Water Maritime Strategy

Indian Navy developments, Part 1 of 3

The 96,000 strong Indian Navy (IN) has a fleet of 134 or so commissioned ships – a figure that is below the mandated force level of 140 ships. The Indian Navy fleet is composed of a mix of platforms from a number of countries. Though the fleet is largely Indian-built, there are substantial numbers of Russian origin vessels. Others are from Germany, Poland, Israel, Italy, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States and soon, France. Indian-built warships are remarkable for their hybrid combat systems made up of Western, Israeli, Russian and Indian equipment.

INS Chakra 05

INS Chakra, the IN’s sole nuclear powered submarine. For now. Indian Navy photo

The IN is in the midst of a major recapitalization program in line with its 15 year Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCPP). The MCPP, formulated in 2005, projects a 162 ship “blue water” navy with approximately 90 major combatants by 2022, although eventual numbers could see the force stabilizing at 174+ platforms.

The current IN fleet composition is made up of around 52 major combatant ships and submarines, including the 28,000-ton light carrier, Viraat (ex HMS Hermes), one Russian built Project 971 Akula class nuclear-powered attack submarine, Chakra; and 14 diesel-electric submarines – 4 German Type 209/1500 boats and 10 Russian Project 877EKM Kilo class boats. A nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, the locally built Arihant, is undergoing trials but has not yet commissioned.

Surface combatants include eight destroyers:

  • Three locally built 163-meter, 6,700-ton Project 15 (P-15) Delhi-class ships;
  • Five Russian-built 146-meter, 5,000 ton Project 61ME Kashin/Rajput-class ships.

There are also 13 frigates in the fleet, including:

  • Two 147-meter, 6,200-ton P-17 Shivalik-class stealth frigates;
  • Four Russian built 125-meter, 4,035 ton Project 1135.6 stealth frigates;
  • Six locally built 126.4-meter, 3,600 ton Project 16/16A Godavari- and Brahmaputra-class guided missile frigates; and,
  • One old Leander-class frigate that is used for controlling unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) at sea.
P16A Brahmaputra class

Project 16A Brahmaputra-class frigate Brahmaputra (F31) under way during exercise Malabar in 2007. The Brahmaputra class were the first to successfully integrate Indian combat data systems with a wide variety of both foreign and Indian weapons and sensors. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason A. Johnston

These warships are supplemented by eight 91-meter, 1,600-ton P-25/25A missile armed corvettes for strike warfare. The four P-25A corvettes carry an impressive battery of 16 Kh-35 Uran anti-ship missiles, although they lack anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability. Other missile-equipped ships are twelve 56-meter, 450 ton Project 1241RE/12418 Molniya fast missile craft.

Patrol forces comprise:

  • Six 101-meter, 1,920-ton Sukanya-class offshore patrol vessels (OPV);
  • Four 58.5-meter, 490-ton Project 1241PE Abhay-class submarine chasers;
  • 16 large, 46-50-meter gun-armed patrol craft, and;
  • Six 25-meter Super Dvora patrol craft from Israel.
INS Satpura

The Indian Navy’s home built Project 17 stealth frigate INS Satpura (F48) under way with the U.S. Navy Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) during Exercise Malabar 2012. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans

Mine warfare forces are made up of eight 800-ton Project 266M Natya-class minesweepers, which also double as patrol craft.

Amphibious ships include one Austin-class large dock landing ship, the Jalashwa (ex-USS Trenton), five 125-meter, 5,746-ton Magar/Shardul-class large landing ship tank (LST); five or so smaller Polish-built Project 773I/IM landing ships; and another five or so 57.5-meter landing craft utility (LCU).

Major auxiliaries include two newly built 175-meter, 28,000 ton Deepak-class fleet replenishment ships as well as two other large fleet replenishment ships – the German-designed, Indian-built Aditya and the Russian-built Jyoti. Other significant auxiliaries include eight large survey ships that double as patrol and hospital ships, as well as training ships, fleet tugs, and research vessels.

As part of the ongoing fleet recapitalization, several dozen warships, submarines and auxiliaries are under construction or close to being ordered – with the vast majority of them from domestic shipyards. For instance, of the 47 ships and submarines under construction or on order, only three are being built overseas.

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