Sixteen years after the Navy of India last inducted a submarine, it is set to commission a new line of conventional submarines by year end but for some time they will operate without their crucial weapon systems, torpedoes, procurement of which are yet again caught up in allegations of wrongdoings.
Scorpene class submarine Kalvari takes part in its maiden sea trials off the coast of Mumbai. - Image: PTI
Kalvari, the first of Project-75 Scorpene submarines weighing about 1,600 tonnes, sailed out of Mumbai harbour on Sunday for sea trials and is scheduled to be commissioned into the Navy in September. However, the procurement of heavy weight torpedoes from Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei of Italy, a subsidiary of defence major Finmeccanica has been stuck due to the VVIP chopper scam and ongoing ban on the company and its subsidiaries. The Navy last inducted a conventional diesel-electric submarine, INS Sindhushastra, procured from Russia in July 2000.
“During the next few months, the submarine will undergo a barrage of sea trials, including surface trials, diving trials, weapon trials, noise trials etc. which would test the submarine to the extremes of its intended operating envelop,” a senior officer said, terming the development a significant moment for the Navy.
As this is the first submarine in the series, the tests will be very rigorous and based on the observations the trials of the remaining submarines can be streamlined and accelerated, he added.
The remaining five submarines, being manufactured by Mazagon Dock Limited are to be launched at nine-month intervals.
However all is not gloom for the submarines. In addition to torpedoes, they also carry charges and Exocet anti-ship cruise missiles launched from torpedo tubes.The Navy is critically short of submarines, the most potent Naval platforms.
There are 13 operational submarines and with regular maintenance and turnaround times the actual availability will be much less. In addition six of them are set to undergo extensive midlife upgrades, which takes about 2-3 years per boat, further cutting down the numbers.
Source: The Hindu / via Klaus Reinstein