Russia has offered three refurbished Kilo-class diesel-electric attack submarines (SSKs) to the Indian Navy, DailyO news website reported.
According to the report, Russia’s JSC United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) has also offered major refit on three of the Indian Navy’s existing Project 877EKM Kilo-class submarines, known locally as Sindhughosh-class. The refit will extend their operational life by 10 years.
The proposal, dubbed “three plus three” and worth around $1.8 billion, was expected to be offered at the annual meeting of the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Technical Commission (IRIGTC) that was to be held in Goa last month but postponed due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The Russian Navy reportedly has three Kilo-class hulls lying in Murmansk which will be refurbished for the sale to the Indian Navy. If accepted, the proposal could see the Navy get six refurbished Kilo-class submarines in one year intervals from the third year onwards, according to the report.
India originally procured ten Project 877EKM Sindhughosh-class submarines from Russia. Out of the ten, one (INS Sindhurakshak) was lost in an accident in 2013 and another (INS Sindhuvir) was transferred to Myanmar Navy last year.
The submarines have a displacement of 3,000 tonnes, a maximum diving depth of 300 meters, a top speed of 18 knots, and are able to operate solo for 45 days with a crew of 53. The final unit was the first to be equipped with the 3M-54 Klub (SS-N-27) anti-ship cruise missiles with a range of 220 km.
Indian Navy Submarine Fleet
In addition to the eight Sindhughosh-class SSKs, the Indian Navy also operates four Shishumar-class (HDW Type 209/1500 design – Germany) SSKs and two Kalvari-class (Naval Group Scorpène-class – France) SSKs. Four more Kalvari-class boats, being built at Mazagon Dock in Mumbai, will also join the Navy by 2023.
The Navy’s sub-surface fleet also includes two nuclear-powered submarines – INS Chakra, a Russian Akula class attack submarine (SSN) on lease from Russia until 2022, and INS Arihant, an indigenously-built ballistic missile submarine (SSBN).
Last year, India signed a $3 billion deal with Russia to lease another Akula-class SSN which is expected to be delivered by 2025. Three more Arihant-class SSBNs are also expected to join the fleet with the second one, INS Arighat, expected to be commissioned this year.
Project 75(I) AIP Submarine Program
The Indian Navy is also in the process of acquiring six state-of-the-art conventional submarines equipped with Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) under Project 75(India), or P75(I), program. The AIP system will enable the submarines to stay submerged for a longer duration (long endurance) and substantially increase the operational range.
The designs competing for the program are:
+ Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) – Type 214-class
+ Spain’s Navantia – S-80 Plus
+ France’s Naval Group (earlier DCNS) – Advanced Scorpene-class or the newer SMX 3.0 concept
+ Russia’s Rosoboronexport-Rubin Design Bureau – Rubin Amur 1650
+ Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) – KSS-III
The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) shortlisted two local shipyards – private shipbuilder Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and state-owned Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) – for the construction of the new submarines.
The MoD will now issue Request for Proposals (RFPs) to L&T and MDL, which is expected later this year. The selected Indian strategic partner will collaborate with the foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of the winning design for the construction of the submarines at its facility with Transfer of Technology (ToT).
The new submarines will be equipped with a vertical launch system (VLS) to enable them to carry multiple BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, making them fully capable of land attack and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) missions.
Indian Navy is also seeking to procure six indigenously-built nuclear-powered attack submarines, and three more nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, code-named S5, which more capable and armed than the current Arihant-class boats.