INDIA’S SUBMARINE STRENGTH
CBI filed two chargesheets against serving and retired naval officers, and some others, for allegedly sharing details of the ongoing modernisation project of India’s Kilo Class submarines
How many submarines does India have:
- Currently, India has 15 conventional diesel-electric submarines, classified as SSKs, and one nuclear ballistic submarine, classified as SSBN.
- Of the SSKs, four are Shishumar Class, which were bought and then built in India in collaboration with the Germans starting 1980s; eight are Kilo Class or Sindhughosh Class bought from Russia (including erstwhile USSR) between 1984 and 2000; and three are Kalvari Class Scorpene submarines built at India’s Mazagon Dock in partnership with France’s Naval Group, earlier called DCNS.
- The SSBN, INS Arihant, is a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, built indigenously. A second SSBN, INS Arighat, an upgraded version of Arihant, is likely to be commissioned within the next few months.
- Most of India’s submarines are over 25 years old, and many are getting refitted.
DELAY IN MODERNIZATION
- The 30-year plan (2000-30) for indigenous submarine construction, approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 1999, envisaged two production lines of six submarines each, built in India in partnership with a foreign Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). The projects were called P-75 and P-75I.
- The plan anticipated that India would get the 12 new submarines by 2012-15. Subsequently, India would make 12 of its own by 2030, taking the fleet size to 24, with the older submarines getting decommissioned.
- Intention was that India would maintain a force level of 18 to 20 submarines at any given time.
- But the contract for P-75 was signed only by 2005, with France’s DCNS, now the Naval Group.
CURRENT PROJECTS UNDERWAY
Of the six being built, P-75 has delivered three Kalvari Class Scorpene submarines so far. P-75I is yet to take off; the first Request for Information was issued in 2008, then again in 2010, and the Request for Proposal was finally issued in July this year. The project will be India’s first under the Strategic Partnership Model, which came up in 2015. The government will give the contract to an Indian Strategic Partner, which will then partner with a foreign OEM.
Why are nuclear submarines so coveted
- Have infinite capacity to stay dived. As they are not propelled by batteries, they need not emerge for charging by a diesel engine. Propelled by a nuclear-powered engine, these submarines only need to come to the surface for replenishing supplies for the crew.
- Are also able to move faster underwater than conventional submarines. All this allows a navy to deploy them at farther distances, and quicker. They are like the fighter jets of the underwater world.
- India got its first SSN in 1987 from the Soviet Navy, which it rechristened INS Chakra, which was decommissioned in 1991. In 2012, India got another Russian SSN on a ten-year lease, called INS Chakra 2, which has since been returned to Russia.
- The government has also decided that of the 12 submarines to be built indigenously after the P75 and P75i projects, six would be SSNs instead of SSK.
- India is taking two SSNs on lease from Russia, but the first of them is expected to be delivered only by 2025.
- India is building at least two larger SSBNs that will have bigger missiles, called S4 and S4* projects. The four SSBNs are expected to be commissioned before 2030