India’s major shipbuilder, Mumbai-based Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL), will deliver the second Scorpene-class (Kalvari-class) diesel-electric attack submarines (SSK), the future INS Khanderi, to the Indian Navy by the end of 2018, a senior MDL official said on September 6.
“We will deliver the second submarine to the Navy by the end of 2018. Most of its trials have been conducted,” Captain Rajiv Lath, director of MDL submarine and heavy engineering, was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.
The 1,565-ton conventionally powered submarine Khanderi was launched in January 2017 and commenced sea trials in July of that year. It has been undergoing testing ever since. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned the first-of-class INS Kalvari in December 2017.
Another boat, the future INS Karanj, was launched at the end of January at a naval dockyard in Mumbai, and is expected to commence sea trials in the coming weeks. “The third submarine is being readied for sea trials and will be commissioned by next year,” according to Lath. “We will deliver the remaining submarines in 2020, 2021 and 2022, respectively.” Three more SSKs of the class are currently under construction.
The new SSK class will be armed with “a cluster of advanced weapons and sensors integrated into the Submarine Tactical Integrated Combat System (SUBTICS),” according to the Indian MoD including French-made Exocet SM39 anti-ship missile, and German-made SeaHake or French F21 Artemis heavyweight torpedoes. The SSK will be able to carry up to 18 anti-ship missiles or heavy-weight torpedoes.
Notably, the new SSK will not be equipped with an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system for the time being, although there are plans to retrofit the Kalvari-class with a domestically designed and built AIP in the near future. Powered by two 1250 kW MAN Diesel Engines, the SSKs range operational range is estimated at around 6,500 nautical miles (around 12,000 kilometers). The SSK is powered by 360 battery cells and a permanently magnetized propulsion motor for operation underwater.
The procurement of a fleet of modern SSKs for the Indian Navy dates back over a decade. The Indian government awarded French shipbuilder Naval Group–formerly known as Direction des Constructions Navales Services — a $4.16 billion contract for the construction of six SSKs in partnership with MDL under the so-called Project-75 acquisition program in 2005.
The Indian Navy is also expected to place a follow-up order for an additional six SSKs under the Project 75-I program, although it scrapped plans to procure six more Kalvari-class boats in 2016. The timetable for the new acquisition, however, is uncertain. “We want to focus on first getting all these submarines commissioned, before going in for more submarines,” Vice Admiral Srikant, the commandant of the National Defense College said in March, according to local media.
Contenders for the new submarine contract will likely include Kockums (Sweden), Rubin Design Bureau-Amur Shipyard (Russia), and Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (Germany). The total contract value is estimated at around $6 billion. It is unclear whether Naval Group will participate in the bidding process.