Indian Navy Launches Fourth Modified Scorpene/Kalvari-Class Attack Submarine, INS Vela

Indian state-owned shipbuilder, Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) has launched the fourth Modified Scorpene/Kalvari class diesel-electric attack submarine, the future INS Vela, during a ceremony at its shipyard in Mumbai on May 6, 2019.

The launch was ceremoniously conducted by by Veena Ajay Kumar, wife of Ajay Kumar, Secretary of Defence Production at Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD). Mr. Kumar was the chief guest on the occasion. Vice Adm. A. K. Saxena, the Navy’s Controller of Warship Production & Acquisition (CWP&A), was also present during the launching ceremony.

The submarine was towed to Mumbai Port Trust, for separation from the pontoon, after which she will undergo rigorous trials and tests, both in harbour and at sea before delivery to the Indian Navy.

The new INS Vela is named after a previous submarine operated by the Indian Navy, designated INS Vela (S40). She was the lead ship of the Vela-class submarines (a variant of Soviet Foxtrot-class submarine) and was decommissioned on 25 June 2010. The submarine was claimed by the Navy’s Eastern Naval Command (ENC) to be the oldest operational submarine in the world at the time of her decommissioning

Kalvari-class SSK

Kalvari class is a class of diesel-electric hunter-killer submarines (SSK) being built for the Indian Navy. The submarines of the class are based on Scorpène-class submarines designed by French shipbuilder NAVAL Group (earlier DCNS) and are being manufactured at Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai under transfer of technology (ToT).

The submarines have a length of 67.5 m, height of 12.3 m, overall beam of 6.2 m and a draught of 5.8 m. The class displaces 1,615 tonnes when surfaced and 1,775 tonnes when submerged.

Each ship is powered by four MTU 12V 396 SE84 diesel engines, has 360 battery cells for power and has a silent Permanently Magnetised Propulsion Motor. The vessels can reach a top speed of 20 knots (37 km/h) when submerged and 11 knots when surfaced.

The submarines have a range of 6,500 nmi (12,000 km) at 8 kn (15 km/h) when surfaced and are capable of diving to 350 meters. Each submarine has a complement of 8 officers and 35 sailors.

The boats can be armed with indigenously-developed Varunastra heavyweight torpedoes, French MBDA SM39 Exocet submarine-launched anti-ship missiles (AShM) and naval mines. The Exocet SM39 is a sea-skimming, subsonic, solid-fueled anti-ship missile with an approximate operational range of 50-70 kilometres depending on the variant.

The class and submarines take their names from the first submarines inducted in the Indian Navy – first three after Kalvari-class and the next three after Vela-class (both variants of Soviet Foxtrot-class submarines).

The first submarine of the class, is INS Kalvari was commissioned into the Indian Navy fleet during a ceremony in Mumbai on Dec. 14 last year after a delay of almost four years.

The second of the class, INS Khanderi, is delivererd to the Navy and will be commissioned into the fleet in near future. The third submarine of the class, to be named INS Karanj, was launched last year and is currently conducting sea trials. She is scheduled to be be delivered to the Navy later this year.

According to the shipbuilder, the remaining vessels of the class – to be named INS Vagir and INS Vagsheer – are in advanced stages of construction and will be delivered in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

Indian Navy’s future conventional attack submarines:

The Indian Navy has also issued a request-for-information to six foreign manufacturers for a new contract to build six diesel-electric attack submarines equipped with Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) technology under the Project-75I programme. The construction of the submarines was approved by the Indian Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on Jan. 31, at a cost of over Rs. 40,000 crores (USD5.62 billion).

The Project 75I-class submarines will have a vertical launch system (VLS) to enable them to carry multiple BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, making the submarines fully capable of anti-surface and anti-ship warfare (ASuW) missions.

The possible contenders for the project are Rubin Amur 1650 (Russia), Naval Group Advanced Scorpene class (France), TKMS Type 214 class (Germany), Navantia S-80 (Spain), Saab Kockum A26 (Sweden) and Soryu class (Japan).

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