India Steams Ahead With Two Carriers

India Steams Ahead With Two Carriers

In the 1971 war with Pakistan, the Indian navy turned the tide in India’s favor when it bombed the Karachi oil refineries and proved the strategic importance of maintaining a dominant water force. While the Air Force and Army complain about procurement procedures, the Indian navy has, in the face of the same obstacles, managed to keep building more warships, most of them in India. It is working towards becoming a modern, networked-force with capabilities to protect its interests in the entire Indian Ocean.

While some acquisitions of the Indian Navy have been delayed it is clear that there is a strategic blueprint for expansion of capability. The modernisation process includes induction of new aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, modern vessels, stealth frigates, guided missile destroyers and aircrafts among other military hardware. Here is a summary of key projects:

Carriers – Project 1143 & 71

As per the new delivery schedule, the navy is all set to induct the 40,000-ton Russian Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier. The final hurdle pertaining to the final cost has also been negotiated, paving the way for delivery. Another 40,000-ton carrier is being constructed at the Cochin shipyard and is likely to be commissioned in 2014. This is a milestone achievement for India because only the UK, US and Russia have built a carrier this large before. This is the first of two proposed carriers. The government also transferred the Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) to the Defence Ministry recently to ensure that work on development of strategic vessels is not hampered in any manner. The navy has also taken the delivery of the first batch of four MiG-29K out of the 16 it had ordered from Russian to be deployed on the carriers in a US$740 million deal.

Guided Missile Destroyer (GMD) – Project 15B

The navy is building three GMDs costing $622 million each at Mazagaon Docks Limited (MDL). The work on the first destroyer named INS Kolkata, is in final stages and is to be delivered in May 2010, followed by INS Kochi in May 2011 and the third un-named vessel will be delivered in May 2012. The navy has kept the option of 4 more vessels under this project, taking the total tally to 7. The vessels under this program will have stealth capabilities and the first to be armed with the BrahMos-2.

Stealth Frigates — Project 17A

The navy plans to begin construction of first of the seven proposed frigates costing US$1,13 billion a unit, under this project in 2011 at Mazagaon Docks Limited (MDL) and Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Kolkata. The delivery of the vessels shall commence in 2015–16 and end in 2021.

Russian Krivak IV Class Frigates – Project 11356

The work on the $1.6 billion Krivak IV Class Frigate is on at the Yantar shipyard in Russia. Even thought Russia has had a poor record of maintaining delivery times in each case including the delivery of three Krivak class frigates built earlier, the Indian establishment says that so far the work is progressing at the desired pace.

Anti Submarine Warfare Corvette (ASW) — Project 28

India is currently building two ASWs of the four proposed, at GARDEN REACH Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Kolkata at the cost of $1.6 billion. A two year delay in the project has pushed the delivery dates to 2014.

Scorpene Submarine– Project 75

India is to build six submarines as a part of the US$3500 project at the Mazagaon Docks Limited (MDL). According to the original delivery scheduled, the first submarine had to be delivered in 2012. However, price dispute and a faulty contract signed by the Indian government that did not ascertain the cost of critical equipments at the time of signing the contract has led to a three year delay in delivery schedule.

The original vendor for supplying critical components – Aramis, which was later acquired by French DCNS, is now demanding a staggering $1.04 billion as against $444 million earlier.

Advance Technology Vessel (ATV) — INS ARIHANT

India is constructing five new nuclear submarines under this project. The first nuclear submarine under this project – INS Arihant was launched amidst much fan-fare in July 2009 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It is expected to join the navy after undergoing extensive sea-trials for two years.

Shchuka-B — K-152 Nerpa a.k.a INS Chakra — Project 971

The Russian navy has taken the delivery of the submarine recently and is in the process of transferring it to India in the first of 2010 after training of 300 Indian naval personnel is completed on the submarine. The navy has signed a 10-year contract for the submarine but has an option of outright purchase.

Mine Counter Measure Vessel (MCMV)

The new MCMVs are being purchased as a replacement to the Pondicherry class of MCMVs. India intents to buy two MCMVs and build six more on its own. The bids for the project submitted by Intermarine, Italy and Kangnam Shipyards, South Korea is under evaluation by the technical committee. The delivery of the first MCMV is expected in 2011.

Fleet Replenishment Tanker

The Indian navy has ordered two tankers under the project. The first one, being built at Liguria, Italy, should be delivered in 2010. The tankers would be 175 meters long and be capable of refuelling four ships simultaneously. The maximum service speed would be 20 knots. As of now, the construction programme is on course.

The navy and Indian citizens are looking forward to the modernisation of our strategic force for a number of reasons. The 26/11 Mumbai attacks have yet again brought the focus back on having a strong navy. While the call of Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia to attack oil production and transport facilities is meant to hurt the US economy, its success will hurt our economy just as badly. For protecting our energy security and for strengthening our maritime counter-terrorism capability, it is important to give further momentum to the “Look West Dimension” initiated by Admiral Mehta and to bring within its regional networking Kuwait and Saudi Arabia too. Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia should be given a high priority to help develop this new strategic alliance. Apart from Navy-Navy interactions, it is equally important to strengthen the interactions at the non-governmental level between maritime security experts of India and those of these three countries.

Data provided by Religare Strategic Advisory, India.

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Looks like India is ahead of China in terms of carriers. I can see these two coming into conflict sooner or later in the high seas.

Good Morning Colin,

All old news, Putin is conducting a private arms bazaar in India. With Sec. of Defense Gates currently in New Deli I sure this will come up in their talks.

A question for Colin, is the British Economists Colin Clark a member of the family? I’m reading “Know Your Enemy” by David C. Engerman and the name pops up Colin Clark (1950’s-early 60’s) and his work in the distortions in soviet statistics and his work “…to undo soviet statistical shenanigans.” He also did some very impressive mathematics in his work on determining the true value of the ruble it appears that some of his work could apply to the current problem of valuation of the yuan.

Byron Skinner


Sadly, I am no relation to perhaps the greatest land economist, a man revered by many of those who follow development issues.

Good Evening Colin,

I was hoping you were, and could post some of his essays on the Soviet Economy. I think they are quite timely and well worth reading today in light of what China is claiming in it economic growth. Both of us know, “Know Your Enemy: The rise and fall of America’s Soviet Experts” by David G. Engerman is on the reading list of everybody at Heritage, it is a terrific book.

Byron Skinner

It would be saddening if all of these Indian Navy programs emerge as promised and our own Navy does not make it’s own strives forward.

It’s time to start looking at CG-X concepts, the CG-47 class gave useful service but they were never particularly well designed cruisers, basically being overloaded destroyers.

Good Morning folks,

Since there is no replays worth my time addressing, I will just keep on the story.

Last Friday India inked a deal with Russia for 29 more Mig 29Ks to add to the 16 they have already purchased. The deal was for $1.2 billion. These are carrier aircraft.

In today LA Times there is an article of interest to our readers who don’t post, “Gates meets with top Indian Leaders” by Julian Barnes, one of the better military affairs writers.

Over on the WSJ there are two stories today; “Military Helps Fund Congressional Trips” by T.W. Farnam and Broody Mullins. This story goes into detail how winger tanks get money to members of Congress to buy influence on votes via Military Congressional Aids on the cheap. To the very few of you posters who are concerned about payola and buying Congressional votes this article is both sickening and funny.

Finally in the WSJ,on the front page is; “New Wave of Warlords Bedevils US” by James Hookway. This is an excellent story on how the Taliban is moving to transfer power and control from the older generation to the younger generation, following the Haqqani family (tribe, clam?).

Again for the few of you posters and to a lot of our readers here this is an insightful article into the internal operational structure and the evolution of the Taliban. The up setting thing here is that if we would have done our business in Afghanistan in 2003 instead of the needless Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice, neo-con war, in Iraq this would not be happening, we created the “new” Taliban ourselves.

To our readers, thanks for the input I got yesterday. I will do better, keep coming around, I’m sure Colin likes your visits.

Byron Skinner

In the next 20 years to inevitable strategic alliance from common enemies and rivals will be USA, Russia, India… There are common historical enemies, cultural and religious enemies, and economic rivals… You heard it here first folks.…..

All Americans should read Tom Clancy’s Debt of Honor, it is fiction, but when you read this book, you will see how fiction is becoming fact and this informattion about India building its naval capabilities is scary.

This is a turning point in history. Indian bureaucracy has always viewed the armed forces with suspicion and hence always kept them impoverished. This seems to be changing and as China grows stronger, it also gets more unpredictable and for some reason hostile to the U.S., the hand that feeds it. Same like its underdog, Pakistan I suppose.

These are only the large projects. Simultaneously we have related projects like US$3 billion in various missile programs, software/design, mission training, education, support vessels, logistics etc etc
I believe there is massive opportunity for the U.S. and India to partner. I cover these topics extensively on my Indian defence news website http://​www​.8ak​.in

Well it seems the Indian MoD is finally getting its act together wrt Naval Firepower. What is most heartening is the level of indinegization in the Naval new buildings, albeit at a greatly enhanced cost. But at the end of the day, nothing comes for free. Yes I may have my critics that all this is corruption etc, but for the ignorant– even the British are experiencing a 3 fold increase in their naval programe, vis a vis the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier. Oh yes..they even offered one of the vessels to India…which India politely refused as even with all our in-efficiencies, our New buildings are more economical.

Great news regarding Indian defence Preprations and Progress ! Your Site is really VERY INFORMATIVE ! Bindu


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