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India to Acquire 3 Guided Missile Frigates From Russia

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India to Acquire 3 Guided Missile Frigates From Russia

The three guided missile frigates were originally destined for the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet.

India to Acquire 3 Guided Missile Frigates From Russia
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/

India and Russia allegedly have reached an agreement over the sale of three Admiral Grigorovich-class (Project 11356) guided-missile frigates, according to IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly.

“The relevant concealed agreement has been achieved, and India will receive the second three of Project 11356 frigates being built for the Russian Navy. The Indian side has obtained 12 spare tool and accessory kits for the ships,” a source within Russia’s defense industry told IHS Jane’s. The ships were originally intended for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

This appears to confirm that the Russian Navy has decided to abandon plans to add six to nine Admiral Grigorovich-class vessels to its surface fleet over the next decade–as was initially laid out in the ambitious 2030 shipbuilding program–and will merely induct three vessels of the class. The Russian Navy intends to commission three Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates this year (See: “Russia to Receive 12 New Warships in 2016”).

The primary reason for Russia’s decision to export the three ships—two of which are already under construction—is the lack of a propulsion system due to Ukraine’s decision to ban military exports to Russia in 2014. The ships of the Admiral Grigorovich-class are powered by M90FR gas turbines designed and built by Zorya-Mashproekt in Ukraine, Russia’s principal surface ship-builder since Soviet days.

Russia acquired three M90FR gas turbines before the export ban came into effect, which have been installed on the first three Admiral Grigorovich-class ships to be commissioned by the end of the year. The Russian defense industry is in the process of designing an indigenous replacement for the Ukraine-made turbine engine.

Moscow awarded a contract to NPO Saturn, a Russian aircraft engine manufacturer, to produce and test a domestically-produced M90FR turbine engine by 2017. However, analysts believe that a new propulsion system will not be ready for the navy before 2019-2020. As a result, Russia’s defense ministry reallocated funding to the construction of other ships, according to a source.

However, India is not subject to the export ban and can directly purchase the engines from Ukraine. According to IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, Moscow and New Delhi are now thinking of transporting the hulls of the ships from the Kaliningrad-based Yantar Baltic Shipyard to India for final assembly. India had previously already expressed its interest to license-build the ships at an Indian dockyard.

Neither India nor Russia have officially confirmed the defense deal as of now.

The 3,620-ton Admiral Grigorovich-class is a derivative of the six Talwar-class frigates that Russia built for the Indian Navy between 2003 and 2013.  The ships could be fitted with the BrahMos cruise missile system.