Indian Navy Force Structure Development Is Driven by Blue Water Maritime Strategy

Published on by AnshanJohn

Click here to see full post on Ex RNZN Navy Club or here for original post on Johns Navy News Blog

Indian Navy Force Structure Development Is Driven by Blue Water Maritime Strategy

Indian Navy developments, Part 1 of 3

D54 Ranvir
Featured Post

Share this Story

More »

The Indian Navy guided-missile destroyer INS Ranvir (D54) under way during Exercise Malabar 2012. Ranvir is one of two Russian built Kashin class destroyers that have been extensively modified under a MLU program which has essentially seen the replacement of almost all legacy Russian combat system equipment with state of the art systems. Ranvir and Ranvijay (D55) now sport an 8-cell Brahmos supersonic anti-ship missile launcher ahead of the flight deck, Israeli Barak 1 point defense missile systems, a Dutch-Indian LW-08 2D air search radar, an Elta EL/M-2238 3D search radar, Israeli electronic warfare systems, Indian built sonars and anti-submarine fire control system and an Indian combat management system, CMS-SNF. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans

The 96,000 strong Indian Navy (IN) has a fleet of 134 or so commissioned ships – a figure that is below the mandated force level of 140 ships. The Indian fleet is composed of a mix of platforms from a number of countries. Though the fleet is largely Indian-built, there are substantial numbers of Russian origin vessels. Others are from Germany, Poland, Israel, Italy, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States and soon, France. Indian-built warships are remarkable for their hybrid combat systems made up of Western, Israeli, Russian and Indian equipment.

INS Chakra 05

INS Chakra, the IN's sole nuclear powered submarine. For now. Indian Navy photo

The IN is in the midst of a major recapitalization program in line with its 15 year Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCPP). The MCPP, formulated in 2005, projects a 162 ship “blue water” navy with approximately 90 major combatants by 2022, although eventual numbers could see the force stabilizing at 174+ platforms.

The current IN fleet composition is made up of around 52 major combatant ships and submarines, including the 28,000-ton light carrier, Viraat (ex HMS Hermes), one Russian built Project 971 Akula class nuclear-powered attack submarine, Chakra; and 14 diesel-electric submarines – 4 German Type 209/1500 boats and 10 Russian Project 877EKM Kilo class boats. A nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, the locally built Arihant, is undergoing trialsbut has not yet commissioned.

Surface combatants include eight destroyers:

  • Three locally built 163-meter, 6,700-ton Project 15 (P-15) Delhi-class ships;
  • Five Russian-built 146-meter, 5,000 ton Project 61ME Kashin/Rajput-class ships.

There are also 13 frigates in the fleet, including:

  • Two 147-meter, 6,200-ton P-17 Shivalik-class stealth frigates;
  • Four Russian built 125-meter, 4,035 ton Project 1135.6 stealth frigates;
  • Six locally built 126.4-meter, 3,600 ton Project 16/16A Godavari- and Brahmaputra-class guided missile frigates; and,
  • One old Leander-class frigate that is used for controlling unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) at sea.
P16A Brahmaputra class

Project 16A Brahmaputra-class frigate Brahmaputra (F31) under way during exercise Malabar in 2007. The Brahmaputra class were the first to successfully integrate Indian combat data systems with a wide variety of both foreign and Indian weapons and sensors. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason A. Johnston

These warships are supplemented by eight 91-meter, 1,600-ton P-25/25A missile armed corvettes for strike warfare. The four P-25A corvettes carry an impressive battery of 16 Kh-35 Uran anti-ship missiles, although they lack anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability. Other missile-equipped ships are twelve 56-meter, 450 ton Project 1241RE/12418 Molniya fast missile craft.

Patrol forces comprise:

  • Six 101-meter, 1,920-ton Sukanya-class offshore patrol vessels (OPV);
  • Four 58.5-meter, 490-ton Project 1241PE Abhay-class submarine chasers;
  • 16 large, 46-50-meter gun-armed patrol craft, and;
  • Six 25-meter Super Dvora patrol craft from Israel.
INS Satpura

The Indian Navy’s home built Project 17 stealth frigate INS Satpura (F48) under way with the U.S. Navy Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) during Exercise Malabar 2012. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans

Mine warfare forces are made up of eight 800-ton Project 266M Natya-class minesweepers, which also double as patrol craft.

Amphibious ships include one Austin-class large dock landing ship, the Jalashwa (ex-USS Trenton), five 125-meter, 5,746-ton Magar/Shardul-class large landing ship tank (LST); five or so smaller Polish-built Project 773I/IM landing ships; and another five or so 57.5-meter landing craft utility (LCU).

Major auxiliaries include two newly built 175-meter, 28,000 ton Deepak-class fleet replenishment ships as well as two other large fleet replenishment ships – the German-designed, Indian-built Aditya and the Russian-built Jyoti. Other significant auxiliaries include eight large survey ships that double as patrol and hospital ships, as well as training ships, fleet tugs, and research vessels.

As part of the ongoing fleet recapitalization, several dozen warships, submarines and auxiliaries are under construction or close to being ordered – with the vast majority of them from domestic shipyards. For instance, of the 47 ships and submarines under construction or on order, only three are being built overseas.

Indian Navy Force Structure Development Is Driven by Blue Water Maritime Strategy

Indian Navy developments, Part 1 of 3

D54 Ranvir
Featured Post

Share this Story

More »

The Indian Navy guided-missile destroyer INS Ranvir (D54) under way during Exercise Malabar 2012. Ranvir is one of two Russian built Kashin class destroyers that have been extensively modified under a MLU program which has essentially seen the replacement of almost all legacy Russian combat system equipment with state of the art systems. Ranvir and Ranvijay (D55) now sport an 8-cell Brahmos supersonic anti-ship missile launcher ahead of the flight deck, Israeli Barak 1 point defense missile systems, a Dutch-Indian LW-08 2D air search radar, an Elta EL/M-2238 3D search radar, Israeli electronic warfare systems, Indian built sonars and anti-submarine fire control system and an Indian combat management system, CMS-SNF. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans

This year, the IN expects to induct six to nine ships, including:

  • Tarkash, a Russian built Project 11356 Batch 2 frigate;
  • Sahyadri, the last of three P-17 Shivalik class frigates;
  • one 109-meter, 3,100-ton P-28 corvette;
  • one 163-meter, 7,000 ton P-15A destroyer;
  • one 105-meter, 2,500 ton OPV, and;
  • three 50-meter survey ships.
Karmuk, Jalashwa, Jyoti, Viraat

The P-25A corvette Karmuk, the Austin class LPD Jalashwa (ex USS Trenton), the Russian built fleet tanker Jyoti and the former Royal Navy light carrier, Viraat (ex-HMS Hermes) with a mix of Sea Harrier fighters, Sea King, Chetak and Kamov 31 helicopters embarked, carry out a formation RAS. This picture is emblematic of the variety of platforms the IN operates. The transfer of the Trenton in 2007 paved the way for much greater cooperation and arms sales between the United States and India, including the sale of Boeing P-8I maritime patrol aircraft, Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transports and a host of other deals. Indian Navy photo by SK Dhaka

The delivery of the survey ships, however, is likely to be pushed to the right. Senior IN officers say it is necessary to induct five to six new platforms every year to sustain and, eventually, grow force levels.

Besides new acquisitions, a mid-life update (MLU) program for as many as 28 legacy ships and submarines is under way. Several have completed the MLU, including a number of Kilo and Type 209 submarines; three P-16 Godavari-class frigates, which have received new guns and other combat system upgrades; two Kashin-class destroyers, that have been fitted with eight vertically launched Brahmos supersonic anti-ship missiles as well as combat system upgrades; and six of the Natya MCMVs that have been fitted with a Thales sonar and command and control system.

Three of the four Abhay-class submarines chasers are slated to receive the American made L-3 Ocean Systems towed array sonar. Similarly, several of the Project 1241RE fast missile craft have been fitted with new electronic warfare (EW) systems. One is also getting a locally produced Oto Melara 76 mm Super Rapid gun in place of its Russian AK-176 gun. At least one of the P-25 corvettes has a new EW system, suggesting that others are due to receive the same EW suite in due course.

Crucially, the recapitalization program is not just about numbers, but focuses more on capabilities said IN top brass, as the service strives to build a balanced force structure.

 

Maritime Strategy

IN Project 877 EKM Kilo

One of 10 Project 877 EKM Kilo class submarines in service with India's submarine arm. Almost all are getting upgrades, including six or so that have already received the Klub-S missile system. Indian Navy photo

The growth of the Indian Navy reflects India’s growing economic and international stature, and its need to secure vital sea lanes of communication that pass through key choke points. It is driven by a Mahanian maritime strategy wherein the IN sees itself as a status quo and stabilizing force in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). As such, it is keen to retain good relations with other littoral navies. In other words, the Indian Navy aims to play its part in securing the global maritime commons.

A key initiative by the IN in this regard includes the IONS (Indian Ocean Naval Symposium) – that is modeled along the lines of the U.S. Navy’s Western Pacific Naval Symposium. A key tenet of IONS is fostering increased maritime co-operation among the 35 member navies from almost all of the littoral countries bordering the IOR.

The IN also provides material and training assistance to several IOR navies, including some on the east coast of Africa, as part of a capacity-building and enhancement drive. It is active in anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa as well as in waters closer to home. The IN also pursues an active “Look East” policy that aims to foster closer relationships with key South Asian navies.

Dhanush on OPV

Until the nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine, Arihant enters service in 2013, the Indian Navy's sea based deterrent is the Dhanush short range ballistic missile that is launched from a specially modified OPV. The 8.53-meter long, 0.9-meter diameter missile, with a launch weight of about 4.4 tons, uses a single-stage liquid propellant engine and has a range of 350 kilometers. It can carry a payload up to 500 kilograms. DRDO photo

Regular bilateral and multilateral exercises with a host of navies ranging from Brazil and South Africa to Singapore and Australia underscore the IN’s commitment to good neighborly relations. Growing ties with the U.S. Navy highlight increasing strategic convergence between the world’s oldest and the world’s most populous democracies. At the same time, the IN often has to balance its desire for cooperation with that of India’s foreign policy, which reflects the country’s historic desire to retain its cherished foreign policy autonomy, one of non-alignment – though some might argue that it did not always work out to be so in practice. The key point to remember is that India’s relationship with Russia, which harks back to the sixties, isstrategically important for India. And it will likely remain so for the foreseeable future.

Another cornerstone of India’s maritime strategy given India’s no first use nuclear doctrine is a robust, sea based nuclear deterrent capability with ballistic missile submarines. Actually, this capability has existed for several years now – albeit in the form of the Dhanush short range ballistic missile carried aboard two or more converted offshore patrol vessels!

More details on India’s maritime strategy can be found in “Freedom to use the Seas: India’s Maritime Military Strategy” that was published by the IN in 2007 and updated periodically.

Part 2 of this series on the Indian Navy looks at new build programs.

Comment on this post