Colonel Awadhesh Kumar
(an old article earlier published in sachikhabar)
The Project 28 Anti Submarine Warfare Corvettes designed and manufactured in India itself have latest stealth features, enhanced manoeuvrability and high survivability. The basic design was envisaged by the Directorate of Naval Design, while the detailed fleshing was done by the design department of GRSE, Kolkata. Though these ships have been designated as Corvettes, at nearly 3500 tons, they are heavier and bigger than our first of the indigenous Frigates of the NILGIRI series. Those ships in comparison weighed just about 2500 tons. Project 28 are heavily armed with medium-range gun, torpedo tube launchers, rocket launchers and other weapons and large number of sensors. Nearly all these weapons and sensors are indigenous. Special grade high-tensile steel, developed by the Indian Navy and the DRDO, and produced by the Steel Authority of India adorns these warships. Indigenous rocket launcher, torpedo tube launcher and a foldable hangar door by L&T, as well as an indigenous surveillance radar and ASW fire control system by Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) are some of the other achievements.
The entire project should have been completed by 2015.However in trying to achieve maximum indigenisation of content, the project got delayed which may be a blessing in disguise. The fourth ASW Corvette, INS KAVARATTI……..all have been named after islands in Lakshadweep, should get commissioned soon this year and thereby making us truly self sufficient in this field of building cutting edge warships. It also has a huge export potential.
The IOR is slowly getting infested with submarines belonging to both, countries within the region and gross outsiders. So what we need is a robust Submarine Force, a highly modern submarine detection and tracking force and a highly potent Submarine killer Force. Building of submarine force has commenced in a big way for all three types….. conventional, nuclear powered SSNs and nuclear powered nuclear missile carrying SSBNs.
For detection and tracking we already have a squadron of 8 x P8Is which are going to be strengthened with 4more. There is need for at least one more squadron of P8Is so that both Western and Eastern Seaboard are well covered. This force is needed to be further bolstered with medium range surveillance aircrafts and enough of long endurance armed UAVs for ASW.
Finally we come to the actual wolf packs for hunting the hostile submarines. For this, it is most desirable for the India Navy to have 12 x ASW Corvettes of Projected 28 size with each if its Command but more heavily armed, so as to take on Surface threats too if required.Presently we have 8x KORA Class now augmented with 4x KADMAT Class. As next in line is Project 28A, the requirement is of 36 such ships. The design needs to be standardized for mass production.Orders for 7 placed with GRSE, Kolkata needs to be increased to 12 and 12 each ordered to Goa Shipyard and Cochin Shipyard. So that all 36 are available by 2035, if not before. There may be orders for export also.
There is another requirement of around 24 x ASW Corvettes of smaller size of around 1000 tons or less exclusively designed for detecting and hunting submarines in the shallow coastal waters of the Western Seaboard. The Indian Sea bed on the Western Coast has its own peculiarities which needs specialized and agile submarine hunters. These ships may be built by our Private Shipyards which are well equipped and already building Off Shire Patrol vessels for the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard.Here too there is a huge export potential.