The Scorpene-class diesel electric submarine Kalvari has begun extensive sea trials in the waters off Mumbai this week, The Hindustan Times report.
The Kalvari was set afloat this Wednesday at the state-run Mazgaon Docks Limited (MDL) in Mumbai, where it has been built in close collaboration with the French shipbuilder DCNS.
“The accomplishment of this milestone will initiate commencement of sea trials which will eventually lead to the commissioning of the boat into the Indian Navy in September 2016,” rear admiral RK Shrawat, the chairman and managing director of MDL told reporters.
The Indian Navy is slated to receive six Scorpene-class submarines by 2020. MDL officials said that they will deliver one new boat every nine months.
The 67-meter long submarine with a 6.2 meter diameter will be equipped with an air-independent propulsion system, which allows the boat to stay submerged longer making it more difficult to detect.
In October 2005, a $4.16 billion contract (known as Project 75) was awarded to the French industrial group DCNS to build six Scorpene-class submarines (with an option to build six more) at MDL.
The deal involved extensive technology transfer agreements. Only thirty percent of the submarine has been made in India. For example, the Kalvari’s pressure hull has been manufactured by MDL.
The Sorpene-class submarine program has faced repeated delays over the last couple of years (See: “India’s Submarine Fleet Faces Further Delays”). The latest delay in February was due to difficulties in procuring certain technologies from foreign suppliers.
The 1550-ton Kalvari will be deployed for a wide range of activities including anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare, special operations, intelligence gathering, minelaying, area surveillance, and strikes against land-based targets.
The sub, boasting six 533 millimeters torpedo tubes, can be equipped with both conventional anti-ship torpedoes and missiles (e.g., SM-39 Exocet ), as well as sea mines.
India is in the process of modernizing its aging submarine fleet with readiness rates purportedly to be below 40 percent.
The Indian Navy recently announced that it will lease another nuclear-powered submarine, the Kashalot K-322 nuclear-powered attack submarine (NATO classification Akula II-class) from Russia (See: “India to Lease Another Nuclear Submarine From Russia”).
At the moment, the fleet consists of 15 boats: nine Russian SSK Kilo-class (Sindhugosh), four locally-built SSK U209 Shishumar-Class, the leased INS Chakra SSN, and the INS Arihant.
The INS Arihant will be the lead vessel of the Indian Navy’s future fleet of four (some media reports say five) Arihant-class SSBNs. The INS Arihant is based on the Russian Project 971 Akula I-class nuclear-powered attack submarine.