Saturday, May 1, 2010

India Commissions First Indigenously-Built Stealth Warship

India has commissioned its first indigenously-built stealth warship with sophisticated features to hoodwink enemy radars and gained entry into a top club of developed countries having such capability। Inducting 'INS Shivalik', the first of the three-ship Project-17 frigates, at the Mumbai-based Mazagon Docks (MDL), Defense Minister A.K. Antony called it a red letter day for the armed forces. The 143-metre long vessel, with 6,100 ton displacement, has been designed and built in India. More than 60 per cent of its value was met within India.

Maintaining High-Level of Operational Readiness
Undoubtedly, the commissioning of the ship is a milestone in the country's warship-building capacity। He stressed the need for modernization of the country's dockyards to achieve international standards in construction. Although the Navy had come a long way since Independence, there was a lot to be done before it became a potent force. Given the multifarious challenges the country faced, the Navy had to maintain a high-level of operational readiness. The government sanctioned Rs. 1,000 crore for modernization of MDL, which on completion next year, would place it among the world's leading warship-building yards.

Shivalik class warships can deal with multiple threat environment and are fitted with weapon suite comprising both area and point defense systems। It has sensors for air, surface and subsurface surveillance, electronic support and counter equipment and decoys for 'soft kill measures'. Two more of the Shivalik class -- INS Sayahdri and INS Satpura -- would be ready for commissioning by November 2010 and mid of 2011, respectively.

Latest Stealth Features
INS Shivalik has the latest stealth features to outsmart the enemy with low radar cross section, be it of the hull, infra-red or sound signatures। It is a steep jump in the indigenous design effort of the Directorate of Naval Design that has since 1954 designed 17 warships of different classes with 80 units built out of them. Currently, there are four designs from which 11 warships are under construction. Although the Shivalik project took the Navy nearly 12 years from the drawing board stage to its commissioning, the new designs for warships the world over also had taken that much time. The total indigenous effort accounting for 60 per cent of the cost is estimated to be Rs. 2,300 crore per ship.

Shivalik class is equipped with a judicious mix of imported and indigenous weapon systems and sensors, including Barak surface-to-air missiles, 'Shtil' air defense system, rapid fire guns and basic anti-submarine warfare weapons।

The ship is powered by combined diesel and gas turbine propulsion system consisting one each of US-origin LM-2500 gas turbine engine and SEMT Pielstick diesel engine on each shaft driving a large diameter controllable pitch propeller।

Future Generation
With better modular habitation and galley facilities on the ship, including an electric 'chappati' (Indian bread) maker, the features in the warship would ensure that the crew was more comfortable while sailing। Shivalik would also be the first warship of the Indian Navy to provide for separate living rooms for women crew as and when the Defense Ministry decides to send them on board battleships.

Explaining the salient features of INS Shivalik, its Commanding Officer Captain M।D. Suresh said the warship was a generation ahead of the frigates that the country had. It operated on a leaner crew; its stealth features helped it generate less noise, reducing underwater detection, while the design deflected signatures.

The frigate is armed with missiles, has helicopter support, mounted guns and a combat management system that can effectively coordinate all weapons and sensors onboard, giving it the ability to deal with multiple threats. The warship can be on a voyage for three-four weeks without fuel replenishment.

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