An IDC Report

New Delhi, 01 October 2015

INS Kochi commissioned

India built Naval warship INS Kochi, was commissioned by defence minister Manohar Parrikar at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai. The quality of the INS Kochi is good as any foreign ship, the RM said. INS Kochi is the second ship of the Kolkata-class (Project 15A) Guided Missile Destroyers. India's defence preparedness just got a shot in the arm with the commissioning of Indian Navy's latest stealth guided missile destroyer.

Destroyers are second only to aircraft carriers in projecting raw combat power on the high seas. Induction of the INS Kochi, the second of the three Kolkata-class destroyers being built at Mazagaon Docks (MDL) at Mumbai for over Rs 4,000 crore apiece, will make it the 10th destroyer in India's combat fleet.

Although conceived as follow-on of the earlier Delhi class, this ship is vastly superior and has major advancements in weapons and sensors. The ship incorporates new design concepts for improved survivability, stealth, sea-keeping and manoeuvrability.

The first of this class, INS Kolkata, was commissioned in August last year, while the third INS Chennai will be inducted towards end-2016. There is also the even bigger ongoing Rs 29,644-crore project to build another four stealth destroyers at MDL, with the first INS Visakhapatnam slated for delivery in 2018-2019.

With a displacement of 7,500 tons, the majestic ship spanning 164 metres in length and 17 metres at the beam, is propelled by four gas turbines and designed to achieve speeds in excess of 30 knots. 
INS Kochi is packed with an array of state-of-the-art weapons and sensors, with a significant indigenous component. The ship has many lethal weapons to her credit which include the successful fitment of vertically launched missile system for long distance engagement of shore and sea-based targets.

The ship is one of the few warships of the world and the second in the Indian Navy to have Multi-Function Surveillance and Threat Alert Radar to provide target data to Long Range Surface to Air Missile system.

The MF STAR and LR SAM systems are jointly developed by DRDO ( Defence Research and Development Organisation) and Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. To protect against incoming air borne and surface threats, at medium and close in range, the ship has 76 mm and 30 mm gun mounts. 

The ship has a complement of about 40 officers and 350 sailors. The accommodation and living spaces have been designed with special emphasis on ergonomics and habitability. 

Individual crew bunks

It's no wonder the Navy is all excited. "INS Kochi will add more teeth to the Indian Navy's sword arm in discharging our duty of safe-guarding maritime interests in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). It further reaffirms our resolve and faith in indigenous ship-building and the 'Make in India' programme," said CNS Admiral Robin Dhowan.

The Navy, on its part, has plans to become a 200-warship force with around 600 aircraft and helicopters by 2027 to ensure it can effectively guard the country's expanding geo-strategic interests in the backdrop of the IOR emerging as "the world's centre of gravity".

The IOR has over 120 warships at any given time, with China fast becoming a force to reckon with in the region. China is expanding its naval footprint mainly to safeguard its energy supplies passing through the IOR but India can ill-afford to ignore its strategic moves.

"We have to be on guard. India's developmental destiny is strongly linked to the seas around us. While we do not want competition with China to turn into conflict in IOR, we have to be ready and keep our powder dry," said another senior officer.

But while the Navy is doing well with "surface combatants", the acute shortage of submarines, helicopters and minesweepers continues to remain a big worry. Take submarines, for instance. The Navy has just 13 old conventional diesel-electric submarines and one nuclear-powered boat on lease from Russia.

This when China already has five nuclear and 51 conventional submarines in its underwater fleet, apart from being close to inducting five new JIN-class nuclear submarines armed with long-range ballistic missiles. Pakistan, too, has recently ordered eight more conventional submarines from China to add to the five it already has.

But the defence ministry is still nowhere close to issuing the tender for Project-75-India to build six advanced submarines, with both land-attack cruise missiles and air-independent propulsion for greater underwater endurance, at a cost of around Rs 80,000 crore. It will take at least 10 years for the first of these new submarines to roll out.

The ongoing Rs 23,562 crore project to construct six French Scorpene submarines at MDL is also running over four years behind schedule, with the first boat to be now delivered by September 2016 at the earliest. Moreover, the government is still to resolve the imbroglio over the proposed Rs 1,800 crore deal to buy 98 heavy-weight torpedoes for the Scorpenes."Jahi Shatrun Mahabaho" loosely means "Armed to conquer the enemy" in Sanskrit. It's an apt motto for guided-missile destroyer INS Kochi, packed with weapons and sensors as well as advanced stealth features.

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