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India to Commission 1st Kalvari-Class Attack Submarine in December

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India to Commission 1st Kalvari-Class Attack Submarine in December

The lead boat of a new class of diesel-electric submarines will be inducted next month, according to defense ministry sources.

India to Commission 1st Kalvari-Class Attack Submarine in December
Credit: MoD Spokesperson via Twitter

The lead boat of a new class of diesel-electric attack submarines will be inducted in December, according to Indian defense ministry sources.

The first of six planned Scorpene-class (Kalvari-class) diesel-electric attack submarine (SSK), INS Kalvari, will be commissioned in the second week of December, top sources in the Indian Ministry of Defense (MOD) told local media in late November.

The commissioning date for the first-of-class INS Kalvari was originally set for August or September this year. However, sea trials of the new SSK took longer than expected. In September, Indian Navy Vice Admiral Girish Luthra confirmed that the new submarine will be commissioned before the end of 2017. The SSK acquisition project, known as Project-75, has been delayed by over four years.

In 2005, the Indian government awarded French shipbuilder Direction des Constructions Navales Services (DCNS) a $4.16 billion contract to build six diesel-electric attack submarines for the Indian Navy in partnership with Mumbai-based Mazagon Dock Limited. Construction of the Kalvari started in 2009. The boat was launched in October 2015 with sea trials kicking off in May 2016.

The new SSK has also been conducting weapons trials, including the test firing of a German SeaHake torpedo and a French-made Exocet SM39 anti-ship missile, a sea-skimming, subsonic, solid-fueled anti-ship missile with an estimated operational range of 50-70 kilometers, designed to attack small- to medium-size surface warships.

As of now, the Indian Navy has not purchased a heavy-weight torpedo for the Kalvari as a result of corruption allegations involving the Whitehead Alenia Systemi Subacquei (WASS), a subsidiary of Italian arms manufacturer Finmeccanica, which led to the Indian government cancelling an order for Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes.

“The Black Shark torpedo was specifically purchased for the Indian Navy’s future fleet of six Scorpene-class (Kalvari-class) diesel-electric attack submarines,” I reported elsewhere. “A second batch of 49 Black Shark torpedoes was also to be installed aboard India’s domestically developed and built Arihant-class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.”

The Indian Navy is now likely to procure German-made SeaHake heavyweight torpedo or French F21 Artemis torpedoes instead as a replacement fort the Black Sharks. However, this was not the only weapons system that has caused trouble, as I explained elsewhere:

The acquisition of the Exocet came under intense scrutiny following the August 2016 disclosure of a data leak at French shipbuilder Direction des Constructions Navales Services (DCNS), which publicly revealed sensitive details on the anti-ship missile including launch details, the number of targets the missile is capable of processing, and how many targets could be downloaded before firing.

Nevertheless, the Indian MoD insisted that the leaked data does not constitute a security compromise and reiterated its intention to procure the missiles for the Kalvari-class.

Despite earlier reports to the contrary, the new SSK will not be equipped with an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system initially. However, there are plans to retrofit the INS Kalvari with a domestically designed and built AIP at a later stage. In addition to the six Kalvari-class boats, the Indian Navy will procure six additional diesel-electric subs in the coming years.