India, Russia Likely to Sign Deal for Four Project 11356 Stealth Frigates for Indian Navy Next Month

India and Russia are expected to sign a deal for four Project 11356 stealth frigates for the Indian Navy next month, reports the Hindustan Times.

According to the report, the deal will be signed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Delhi on October 5. Putin will be in India next month for the annual summit between the two countries.

India and Russia had signed the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) to proceed with the deal in October 2016, but price negotiations and technical consultations, which also involved an Indian shipyard, delayed the final clearance.

According to the terms of the contract approved, the first two frigates will be built in Yantar Shipyard in Kaliningrad, Russia and the remaining two will be built in India’s state-owned Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) with technology and design transferred by Yantar.

If the contract is signed, this will be the first capital warship contract signed since Project 17A frigates was contracted in early 2015. Project 17A class is a follow-on of the indigenously designed and developed Project 17 Shivalik-class stealth frigates in service with the Indian Navy.

It was earlier reported that the first two frigates to be supplied to India are already part-built at the Yantar shipyard and was originally destined for the Russian Navy as Admiral Grigorovich class (Project 11356Р/М) guided missile frigates.  Since the ships used Ukrainian engines, the Russian annexation of Crimea and the resulting Ukrainian embargo affected the project making Russia unable to complete the vessels and offer them to India.

The new frigates will be similar to the six Russian Talwar class (Project 11356) ships already deployed by the Indian Navy. The Talwar-class are in turn the improved versions of the Krivak III-class (Project 1135) frigates. With the current contract, the navy will operate ten Krivak III frigates in future– the fleet’s largest single type.

These upgraded Krivak III-class frigates to be sold to India will have the same engines and armament configuration as the second batch of three Talwar-class frigates in service with Indian Navy – INS Teg, INS Tarkash and INS Trikand. This include the BrahMos supersonic anti-ship/land attack supersonic cruise missiles jointly developed by India and Russia.

The gas turbine engines for the new frigates will be supplied by the Ukrainian state-owned firm Ukroboronprom’s Gas Turbine Research & Production Complex Zorya-Mashproekt in a separate deal with India.

Russia had initially planned to construct six Project 11356 frigates by 2020. Three frigates have already been delivered to the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet. Russian Navy’s new ships will be powered by  M70FRU gas turbine engines developed by Russian manufacturer, NPO Saturn.

India is also in process to sign a deal for S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems with Russia which is also expected to take place during the summit next month, brushing aside Washington’s concerns about the purchase. The S-400 is capable of intercepting jets, ballistic missiles, low-flying cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles at a maximum range of 400km.

The new development came around two weeks after India significantly upgraded its defence ties with the United States through the COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) agreement. COMCASA allows India to procure specialized equipment for encrypted communications for its U.S. origin military platforms like the C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter, C-130 Super Hercules tactical airlifter and P-8I Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. Currently, these platforms use commercially available communication systems.

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