India’s second Scorpene-class submarine, INS Khanderi is waiting for a VIP to get inducted in the Indian Navy's fleet.
The submarine has completed all its sea trials and is ready to join the Mumbai-based western naval headquarters.
The induction is delayed as the new government at the Centre is likely to take charge at the end of this month after the election results are declared on May 23. The first Scorpene was commissioned in December 2017 in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Another reason cited for the delay in induction is the retirement of Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba on May 31. The chief designate Vice Admiral Karambir will assume office after that.
“The submarine is ready for induction after its all necessary acceptance trials. Initial plan was to commission it by the end of April. But, now a formal date of commissioning will be announced soon,” said a defence source.
INS Karanj, the third Scorpene-class submarine is also in the advanced stages of its trials and is expected to join the Navy fleet by the end of this year.
On May 6, the fourth submarine of the Scorpene-class touched waters. Named as INS Vela, the submarine, under construction at Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) Mumbai, was launched after completing its out fittings.
The last two Scorpene class submarines INS Vagir and INS Vagsheer are under construction at the MDL assembly line.
In 2006, an agreement was signed to build six Scorpene class submarines in India between the French firm Naval Group, formerly known as DCNS, and Mazgaon Dock Limited under Indian Navy’s $3 billion Project-75. The first submarine was scheduled to be delivered by 2012, but the project witnessed repeated delays.
The Scorpene submarines can undertake multifarious missions like anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine laying, and area surveillance. The submarine is designed to operate in all theatres, with means provided to ensure interoperability with other components of a Naval Task Force. It is a potent platform, marking a generational shift in submarine operations.
India got its first of the eight Foxtrot class submarines, also known as INS Kalvari, on December 8, 1967 when it was commissioned at the then Soviet Union’s naval base Riga in Latvia.
The 66-metre long submarine is made up of a special kind of high-tensile steel which ensures that the warship can withstand high yield stress allowing it to dive deeper. The submarine can operate at a depth of 300 metres under water and travel 1,020 km underwater. It can carry 18 torpedoes and tube-launched anti-ship missiles underwater or from the surface.
The strength of the Indian Navy's submarine fleet has come down from 21 submarines in the 1980s to 15 conventional submarines plus one homemade Arihant-class nuclear submarine and one Russian Akula-class submarine operating on lease. Most of the time, Indian Navy is operating only half of its submarine fleet strength as majority of the vessels are on mid-life upgrades.
The Navy needs at least 24 submarines to meet the 30-year submarine building plan, which was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 1999, months after the Kargil conflict. The approved acquisition programme was divided into three sections: first, six Scorpene submarines to be procured under the Project-75; second, additional six more submarines to be built under Project-75 India, and the third, remaining 12 to be built indigenously.