New Delhi, 11
Indian Navy is on a high. This year it commissioned INS Karmukh,
inducted UAVs, received two Sea Harriers and hopes to commission two
powerful Krivacks (INS Talwar and Trishul) at St Petersburg ––
to coincide with that city's 300th anniversary celebrations. All
else being equal it will soon commission INS Betwa (missile frigate)
and the third Krivack INS Tabar too. Admiral Madhvendra Singh, the
present CNS was the CO of the old INS Talwar and so it is fitting
that he should be present at the commissioning of the new ship too
–– if his schedule permits it.
Russian Navy led by the Moskva (guided missile cruiser) is expected
to arrive in the Indian Ocean and the Russian Fleet will exercise
with the Indian Navy. This will see the resurgence of a great Navy
built by the legendary sea dog Admiral Gorshkov. Many consider him
the builder of India's fine Navy too. Continuing the build-up, the
Mazagon Dock launched INS Shivalik, the first Type 17 ‘stealth’
ship at Mumbai. These are all milestones for the Indian Navy and
challenges to wisely expend the Budget.
the responsibility to provide sanctions and timely clearances lies
with the bureaucrats and politicians. The Admiral Gorshkov, MiG 29
aircraft, four TU 22 M aircraft, additional IL 38 aircraft and
leasing of two Akula class submarines are still to be cleared.
Let’s hope EAM Yashwant Sinha proceeding to Russia next week will
oil the wheels.
the launching of 'Shivalik' the first indigenous stealth frigate,
the Indian Navy continues its tradition of building a formidable ASW
(Anti-Submarine Warfare) force that gained momentum during the
mid-eighties. The 'Godavari' class frigates are primarily ASW
vessels and even the Delhi class destroyers, although
"stretched" variants of Kashins in Indian Navy service,
are primarily ASW vessels with distribution of armaments similar to
United States Spruance class destroyers. The latest class of
submarines, the Russian Kilos, the German Type 1500 and the
projected Franco-Spanish Scorpenes are all SSKs (Submarine,
conventional powered hunter-killer).
formidable fleet of MR/ASW (Maritime Reconnaissance/Anti-Submarine
Warfare) airborne platforms are also being built up with Russian
Tupolev-142 'Bear-F' and Illyushin-38 and with United States’
Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion under strong consideration. The possible
motive is perhaps to shift emphasis on sub-surface operations in
near and distant future in facilitating the operations of friendly
missile firing submarines acting as the nuclear deterrent and
possessing massive "second strike" retaliatory capability.
As a measure of protection enemy submarine fleets
are to be destroyed.
provision of carriage of twin helicopters on 'Shivalik' is welcome
since while the first acts as an ASW helicopter, the second
helicopter can fulfil the task of either a dedicated ASV
(Anti-Surface Vessel) platform armed with anti-ship missiles or an
AEW (Airborne Early Warning) platform. However considering the
emerging sophistication of future generations of nuclear submarines
it may be logical to opt for destroyer sized vessels similar to
Japanese 'Haruna' and improved 'Shirane' class, with the aft flight
deck extending to one-third of the length of the ship. At least
three ASW/ASV/AEW helicopters can then be operated. Helicopters are
regarded as the primary ASW "weapon" of surface units
because of their reach and flexibility of operations.
the 'Shivalk' will possibly be armed with Russian SA-N-7/ SA-N-12
to Air Missile) systems it is time to look for a deadlier
combination. Since the European missile and smart munitions
manufacturer MBDA now enjoys close co-operation with Indian defence
industry, it may be logical to go for MBDA developed PAAMS
(Principal Anti-Air Missile System) being developed for
Franco-Italian Horizon class frigates, working with Empar C-band
radar. PAAMS is a combination of vertically launched rapid reaction,
active-radar Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles. Aster 15 has a range of
1.7 to 30 kilometres and is operational aboard French PAN (Porte-Avions,
Nucleaires- nuclear powered aircraft-carrier) 'Charles de Gaulle'
with a combination of the Arabel X-band radar. Aster 30 in addition
to self-defence has area defence capability with 3 to 100 kilometres
family of missiles differs only in booster design and shares the
same kill vehicle with focussed fragment warhead. Such a SAM
combination will make the ASW units less reliant on land or
aircraft-carrier based air cover that may prove to be invaluable
while making rapid dash towards reported enemy submarine contacts,
away from the "task force" while the "main body"
turns away from the source of the threat.
Russian Novator Alfa/Klub (SS-N-27) cruise missile provides land
attack capability with a stated range of 300 kilometres. Supersonic
BrahMos may be an option on future units. The merits and demerits of
supersonic and subsonic anti-ship missiles are hotly debated as are
the merits and demerits of wire-guided and wake homing torpedoes.
While supersonic anti-ship missiles posses the sheer speed and
kinetic impact and are less vulnerable to countermeasures, subsonic
anti-ship missiles are credited with less infra-red signature,
better target discrimination and more importantly the ability to
re-attack the target even if once fooled by decoys. Klub however is
a good compromise with a subsonic flight profile with supersonic
joint ASW exercises with major American, European and Russian navies
hold great importance. In the past Indian Navy had held ASW
exercises with United States Navy involving Spruance class ASW
destroyers. The projected exercise in the month of May is set to be
a big affair with the Russians fielding no less than three nuclear
submarines and possibly 'Udaloy' class ASW destroyers. During Cold
War days both the United States and Soviet Navies played "cat
and mouse" games as far as ASW operations were concerned.
Absorbing such knowledge from them will prove to be as important as
the new procurements.
inputs from Sayan Mazumdar)