(Published SP’s Naval Forces, Oct-Nov 2014)
The Indian Navy is set to acquire over 80 new warships, including two aircraft-carriers and nuclear submarines each, scheduled to join its fleet in the coming decade, with about 5 major combatants being commissioned every year. Major warship building program of the IN includes-
Project 15 A and 15 B Guided Missile Destroyers: Mazagaon Docks Ltd. is building Project 15A 6800 tonne destroyers at a cost of USD 622 mn each. First of its class INS Kolkata has already been delivered. The follow-on project 15B gave the Navy the option of placing orders for 4 more vessels in the same class. These ships carry, short and medium range anti air missiles, anti ship and land attack missiles, 76.2 mm gun, CIWS, heavy weight torpedo tube launchers, and ASW rocket launchers.
Project 17 and 17A: Under this project, three Shivalik class multi-role frigates with stealth features were planned for construction by Mazagaon Docks Ltd, all of them have been commissioned. The successor of these frigates is planned under project 17A involving seven vessels, at a cost of USD 578 mn each. The modular construction method will be employed by Mazagaon Docks Ltd. and Garden Reach Ship-builders and Engineers, who will deliver three and 4 vessels respectively. The Shivalik class of ships carry short and medium range anti air missiles, anti ship/anti land attack missiles, CIWS, 76.2 mm gun, ASW rocket launchers and triple tube heavy weight torpedo launchers.
Project 28 Anti Submarine Warfare Corvettes: The corvettes being built under Project 28 have been conceived as the Indian Navy’s Anti-submarine Warfare vessels for the 21st century as well as being aimed at encouraging private participation in shipbuilding. The first of the series, INS Kamorta, built by Garden Reach Ship-builders and Engineers has already been commissioned. Kamorta displaces 3500 tonnes and is 110 meters in length and 14 meters at the beam. It has a maximum speed of 25 kt with an endurance of about 3500 nautical miles. These ships have medium range anti air missiles, 76.2 mm gun, CIWS, ASW rocket launchers, and heavy weight torpedo tube launchers.
Project 75I submarines. Indian Navy now plans to build all the six submarines indigenously.
Traditionally naval ships have been equipped with a heavy gun (57 mm caliber up wards), an auxiliary gun of up to 35 mm caliber, and a small caliber gun for close air/ missile defense, the number of turrets depending upon the size and role of the specific ship. These guns are not effective at very close ranges against surface craft due to inability of the guns to rapidly train, elevate, or depress to prosecute swarming targets from different directions at close quarters. Examples of some heavy guns include OTO Melara 76 mm gun, (traditional /compatto/rapid), Bofors 57/70 mm MKII / MKIII, CADAM Turret / Loire 100mm / MK55 Mod 68, OTO Breda 127/54, OTO Melara 127/64, and Giat CADAM Turret. The auxiliary guns include, OTO Breda 40/L70 twin, Mauser EADS MLG 30/27 mm, Rheinmetall GDM-08 with MSP 500, Oerlikon Gam/BO 1, Allied Telesyn DS 30M Automated Small Calibre Gun System, Rheinmetall RH 202. The close in weapon systems includes; Mauser Oerlikon MeRoKa, Signaal GAU-8/A, GE / GDC MK 15 Mod 2, Raytheon / Diehl RIM 116 Block 1 HAS.
The Italian OTO MELARA 127/64 LW Light Weight Naval Gun is used on board the Italian FREMM and the German F125 frigates. This rapid-fire gun can be installed on large and medium size ships, for surface fire and naval gunfire support, with anti-aircraft fire as its secondary role. The compactness of the gun feeding system makes it possible to install it on narrow section crafts. The gun can fire all standard 127mm/5 inches ammunition including the new Vulcano long range guided ammunition. Vulcano is a family of Extended Range (ER) unguided ammunition and Long Range (LR) guided ammunition for the 127mm naval guns and 155mm land artillery system.
The CIWS Gun systems continue to be favored as a terminal effort to tackle on coming ASCMs, despite the disadvantages they display w.r.t to the CIWS missile systems. In fact CIWS today have evolved to employ both guns as well as missiles. Some major CIWS are Mk 15 Phalanx (USA), Goalkeeper (Netherlands), DARDO (Italy), and the AK- 630 (Russia). The US navy has ~250 of the Raytheon’s Mk 15 Mod 21-28 Phalanx CIWS autonomous combat systems mounted on the US Naval ships. It can be used also against small craft and for anti-air warfare. Incidentally, The US Navy’s requirements for the LPD 17 and LCS ship programs included the need for weapon systems capable of defeating small, fast, highly maneuverable surface craft. The MK 46 GWS was selected to provide these ships a capability against small surface craft. The MK 46 GWS is a remotely operated naval gun system that uses 30mm high velocity cannon, a forward looking infrared sensor, a low light television camera, and a laser rangefinder for shipboard self defense against small, high speed surface targets. The gun can be operated locally at the gun turret or remotely at the Remote Operating Console in the Combat Information Centre (LPD 17 class)/Mission Control Centre (LCS class).
Indian Naval ships have the following main guns; A-190(E) 100mm,100mm AK-100 naval gun,AK-176-M 76mm gun,AK-76/62 76mm gun, Twin mount gun (76mm), OTO Melara 76 mm SRGM gun. The auxiliary guns include; AK-630 6-barreled 30 mm Gatling gun, AK-230 twin 30 mm gun. The 76.2 SRGM is being manufactured at BHEL Hardwar under TOT from Oto Melara Italy. BHEL is one of the largest engineering and manufacturing enterprise in India in the energy and infrastructure related sector. The AK630 Gatling gun is being manufactured by the OFB.
. Indian Navy has been searching for a main gun in the 127 mm or higher calibers, which can be produced in India along with its ammunition. The TOT should also include production of future upgrades. The economics of scale can easily be achieved if a gun system compatible with requirements of the Indian army (on the lines of the 30 mm BMP or the 12.7 mm HMG) can be selected. With respect to CIWS the Indian navy needs to replace its 30 mm gun in future with a higher caliber gun system compatible with the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force. The DAC has cleared a proposal for 116 in number 30 mm guns for the warships in 2012. A RFI for 30 in number 40mm guns with EOFS has also been issued.
Lightweight torpedoes (LWT) are launched by surface ships, helicopters, and fixed wing aircrafts. A few of the notable light weight torpedoes include the European MU 90 produced by EUROTORP, The Mk 54 by Raytheon and the A244S developed by WASS. The MU90 is a NATO-standard-caliber (323,7mm) fire-and-forget LWT of 304 Kg and 285 cm length, designed to counter any type of nuclear or conventional submarine. The US Mk 54 torpedo is 271cm to 287cm, weighs between 276 Kg to 293 Kg, and has a diameter of 32 cm. Its processing power, coupled with the MK 48 ADCAP and MK 50 detection, editing and tracking algorithms, provides an effective weapon in both littoral and open-ocean waters. The A244/S is a 324mm diameter, 2.8m long, and 244kg weight torpedo. It has a cruise/surge speed of 30/39kts, with a range of 6km and depth up to 600m.
A lightweight, anti-submarine torpedo TAL that can be launched from both, surface ships and helicopters has been developed by NSTL, a DRDO laboratory. It is being produced by BDL Hyderabad. It has a speed of 33 kt, a range of 7 km, and a warhead with an explosive weight of 50 kg. Twenty-five TAL torpedoes have been ordered by the Indian Navy.
There is however a long term requirement of a state of the art LWT that can be produced in India.
Surface ships in anti submarine role mainly launch heavyweight torpedoes. Few of the notable heavy weight torpedoes include the US Mk 48 ADCAP, the Russian 53-65 KE, and electrical torpedoes, the Italian Blackshark and the German Seehect. Hughes Aircraft produce the US MK 48 ADCAP wire guided torpedo. This thermal torpedo has a range of 30Km at 65kts and 50Km at 40kts. Whitehead Sistemi Subacquei has developed Blackshark. It has advanced ECCM, motor design and battery, giving it a speed of +50Km at +50kts. Atlas Elecktronik manufactures Seehecht, DM2A4. It was the first torpedo to be fitted with a fiber optic wire guidance system. Indian Navy has issued an RFI for heavy weight torpedoes for its Scorpene submarines and warships in pipeline. The Indian Navy is also carrying out sea trials of Varunastra, heavyweight, electric-powered torpedo developed at NSTL (DRDO). It is wire-guided and has a range of 30 km. The launch weight of Varunastra is 1,500 kg and it is capable of doing speeds up to of 38 kt. It has a 250 kg warhead. Varunastra may also be inducted once the trials are successful.
A formidable heavy weight torpedo with ranges >80 km manufactured in India would go a long way to address the future needs of the Indian Navy.
Some of the naval cruise missiles worth mentioning are the Brahmos, the Tomahawk, the Klub, and the Exocet. Brahmos is produced by BrahMos Aerospace Pvt Ltd, which is a JV between India and Russia. BrahMos has the capability of attacking surface targets by flying as low as 5 meters in altitude and the maximum altitude it can fly is 14000 meters. It has a diameter of 70 cm and a wingspan of 1.7 m. It can gain a speed of Mach 2.8, and has a maximum range of 290 km. With induction in to the Indian Navy and the Indian Army (Land attack version), it has also become a cross service missile. Further, it is likely to be inducted in to the Indian Air Force and Indian Naval submarines once trials are completed. Tomahawk by Raytheon, is perhaps the most famous and widely used cruise missile. The current version is network centric and can utilize data from a variety of inputs like UAVs, satellites and ground forces. Retargeting during its flight is possible due to its loitering feature. The Russian Klub is an anti shipping subsonic missile with a supersonic terminal speed of 2.9 mach. It has a warhead of 200kg and a range of 220km. Exocet missile produced by MBDA is a sea skimming turbojet missile with a range of +180km. It has a warhead of 165kg. Indian Navy has ordered the submarine fired version of this missile, namely the SM 39, for the Scorpene submarines under acquisition.
There is a need here to mention Barack 8, which is an Indo-Israeli medium range surface to air missile for anti-aircraft/ anti missile/anti UAV role. It has a length of 4.5 meters, with a diameter of 0.54 meters, and weighs 275 kg with a 60 kg proximity warhead. The missile has a range of 70 km with a maximum speed of Mach 2. This missile would replace Barack 1 missile.
Two other missiles, which are likely to be deployed by Indian Navy in future, include-
BrahMos Mark II, which is a hypersonic cruise missile currently under development by BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited. The BrahMos-II is expected to utilize a scramjet engine for achieving a speed of seven mach. It is likely to be ready for testing by 2017.
Nirbhay is said to be an all-weather low-cost long-range cruise missile with stealth and high accuracy. The missile may have a range of 1000 km and weigh about one ton with a length of 6 m. It will be capable of being launched from multiple platforms on land, sea, and air for induction into Indian Navy, Army, and Air Force. It is likely to carry nuclear warheads also.
As far as indigenous manufacture of torpedoes and missiles is concerned, Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) is one of India’s leading manufacturers of guided weapon systems. The manufacturing and testing facilities established at BDL are modern and tuned to cater to the stringent Qualitative requirements of guided weapon systems. Special process facilities such as Flow Forming, Electron Beam Welding etc. have been set up and ensure reliable inputs. Environmental test facilities as Motion Simulators, Walk-in Test Chambers etc., are utilized to test the products simulating the environmental conditions as encountered by the weapon system in operational conditions. It is a profit earning Mini Ratna – Category-I Company by the Government of India. BDL is poised to enter new avenues of manufacturing covering a wide range of weapon systems such as Surface to Air Missiles, Air Defense Systems, Heavy Weight Torpedoes, Air to Air Missiles etc., making it a world class defense equipment manufacturer. It currently has orders worth over 18,000/-cr. BDL is also the lead integrator for all missiles and torpedoes for the Indian Armed Forces.
In conclusion it can be appreciated that with ‘Make in India’ thrust there is every possibility that the best of weapon OEMs would come to India for production of advanced weapon systems for use by the Indian Armed forces as well as for sale to other countries. It is also makes good business sense to establish a long lasting relationship to enable reaping benefits over decades due to requirements of regular spares, maintenance, retrofitting, and upgrades.