Monday, March 25, 2013

Second Borei Class SSBN Alexander Nevsky expected by 2013 end

Alexander Nevsky, second nuclear-powered strategic submarine of Borei-class will be handed over to the Russian Navy by the end of the year, a Navy official told RIA Novosti on Friday. “The Navy is planning to commission the Alexander Nevsky submarine before the end of this year. Things are going according to plan,” the official said.

The Alexander Nevsky has been undergoing trials at the Sevmash shipyard since 2012. There will be three sea trials this year and a Bulava ballistic missile will be test-launched from the submarine in the summer, the official said.

Alexander Nevsky SSBN at sea trials ( Image Courtesy - )

A Sevmash official representative also confirmed to RIA Novosti that the submarine will be handed over to the Navy in 2013. The Alexander Nevsky is the second Borei class submarine. The first, the Yury Dolgoruky, entered service with the Northern Fleet in January, and the third, the Vladimir Monomakh, was floated out last December and is due to enter into service in 2014. The first three vessels in the Borei series are capable of carrying 16 Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

A total of eight Borei-class submarines are to be built for the Russian Navy by 2020. This year Sevmash shipyard will start construction of two upgraded Borei class Project 955A submarines - the Alexander Suvorov and the Mikhail Kutuzov - capable of carrying 20 ballistic missiles each.

News Courtesy -

Friday, March 22, 2013

INS Trikand on sea trials, to be commissioned this summer

The last in a series of three frigates that Russia is building for India at the Yantar Shipyard in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad has completed contractor sea trials, a spokesman for the shipyard said on Friday.

Sergei Mikhailov said the trials of The Trikand frigate in the Baltic Sea began on February 5 and were completed on March 14. “Within this period, the vessel carried out five voyages in the Baltic Sea, each lasting several days,” Mikhailov said.

The Trikand is currently at the Baltiisk port, preparing for state sea trials. It is scheduled to join the Indian Navy in the summer of 2013.

INS Trikand at launch ceremony ( Image Courtesy - ) 

Russia and India signed a $1.6 billion contract on the construction of three modified Krivak III class (also known as Talwar class) guided missile frigates for India in 2006.

The first frigate, INS Teg, joined the Indian Navy on April 27, 2012, and the second, the Tarkash, arrived at the port of Mumbai in India on December 30, 2012. The frigates are each armed with eight BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.

They are also equipped with a 100-mm gun, a Shtil surface-to-air missile system, two Kashtan air-defense gun/missile systems, two twin 533-mm torpedo launchers and an antisubmarine warfare 

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

SSGN - A logical next frontier for Indian Navy

SSGN - a nuclear submarine capable of launching guided cruise missiles, have got a role that is entirely different than SSNs and SSBNs. We seldom hear about them and their role from main stream media, while there is always plenty of focus on SSNs/SSBNs. Apart from US and Russian Federation, no other navy has got a dedicated fleet of SSGNs. There are some navies which have got multi-role boats that can be put into a category of SSN-SSGN combined, but then those are more of hybrid and less of pure SSGNs, further their major role also tilts more towards SSN. 

SSGN is one of the extremely critical tactical asset of 21st century, it can strike fear in the heart of an enemy, even without involving any nuclear angle into the power projection. By virtue, this submarine has got stealth on its side; by technology (nuclear propulsion) it has got sustenance on its side, for fire-power it is bristling with long-range guided cruise missiles in its belly.

US has used its SSGNs in all the recent wars it got involved into, to soften the targets; enemy could barely see what has hit them, the fiery tomahawks raining from night skies and annihilating them. These tomahawks came from thousands of miles away, fired by an SSGN stationed somewhere in the distant ocean.

Voronezh, an Oscar Class SSGN after its overhaul ( Image Courtesy - )

If things go as planned, Indian Navy would have SSBNs in its fleet by year-end, and one more Akula class SSN (Iribis) too. May be, this is the time to look forward to acquire some SSGN capability, a fleet of SSGNs patrolling Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea will be enough to deter an agressor from getting adventurous with any malafide intentions.

However, India Navy has got its hand full with development of SSBN capability in the form of Arihant Class submarine, a follow-on project for SSNs is also in progress. Therefore, developing a SSGN capability would take considerable time to get kick-started as an indigenous project. But if we can take a leaf out of approach that was followed with INS Chakra; building the SSN capability rapidly, and then having an indigenous project in parallel; it would be a good start to build an SSGN capability as well.  

Russian Federation has around six Oscar Class SSGNs in reserve. There are three which are waiting on a refit, and the remaining three are in advanced stages of construction, when further development was halted due to financial constraints and also because Russia Navy is right now more focused towards faster completion of Borei Class SSBNs and are looking to put them in active service as soon as possible.

Oscar Class SSGNS -
  • K-173 Krasnoyarsk - waiting for overhaul
  • K-132 Irkutsk - waiting for overhaul
  • K-442 Chelyabinsk - waiting for overhaul
  • K-139 Belgorod - construction halted
  • K-135 Volgograd - construction halted
  • K-165 Barnaul - construction halted
India could exercise the same lease option to acquire few of these boats, induct them quickly into its navy, get familiarised with their operations and capabilities, and simultaneously kick start a parallel project to develop indigenous capability. There will be people criticizing this approach, claiming it to be counter-productive to development of indigenous capabilities, but these are strategic decisions which need to be taken in context of the whole spectrum of threats, we live in. It is critical that we look to acquire strategic defensive capabilities as fast as we can, we should definitely continue to develop indigenous programs to achieve self-reliance in defence, but we need to balance out these two approaches and keep in mind that end-goal is to keep our nation safe from all external threats, at all times.

We need to be vigilant of the fact that our adversaries are acquiring offensive capabilities, that too at a much faster pace than us.

An Active Defence Original

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

India test fires submarine launched version of BrahMos

India has successfully carried out the maiden test firing of the over 290 km-range submarine-launched version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile in the Bay of Bengal becoming the first country in the world to have this capability.

The submarine-launched version of BrahMos was successfully test-fired from an underwater pontoon in Bay of Bengal, the performance of the missile during the test launch was “perfect“, BrahMos CEO A. Sivathanu Pillai told PTI.

This is the first test firing of an underwater supersonic cruise missile anywhere in the world and the missile travelled its complete range of over 290 kms, he said.

Maiden test firing of BrahMos ( Image Courtesy - )

Ship and ground-launched versions of the missile have been successfully tested and put into service with the Indian Army and the Navy.

“BrahMos missile is fully ready for fitment in submarines in vertical launch configuration which will make the platform one of the most powerful weapon platforms in the world,” Pillai said.

Defence Minister A K Antony congratulated DRDO scientists and Russian specialists along with officers of the Indian Navy associated with the project for successful test launch of missile from an underwater platform.

News Courtesy -

Friday, March 15, 2013

India Navy to lease another SSN from Russia - Iribis

Though, it should not come as any kind of revelation to anyone, but something which was quite expected (in my opinion somewhat delayed as well) and had been in open for a while now. 

India is in talks with Russia to finance the completion of another nuclear submarine for the Indian Navy, a senior Russian military official told RIA Novosti on Tuesday. After the Nerpa, which was leased by India and recommissioned as INS Chakra last year, this another partly-completed Akula class vessel would be the Indian Navy’s second SSN. 

“India has expressed interest in completing the next vessel. The robust hull of the second sub is ready and waiting on the stocks of the Amur plant. It is being well looked after,” said the military spokesman. At the same time, he stressed that the completion of the second nuclear submarine requires an inter-governmental agreement between India and Russia. “The issue is being worked out. As in the first case, it might be leased out, not sold,” said the source for RIA Novosti.

INS Chakra ( Image Courtesy - )

Due to limited information available in public domain on Russian submarines, one can not be certain which submarine is being considered for this lease; however details available thus far points to a partly-completed Akula class submarine - 'Iribis'

Iribis belongs to 'Akula I Improved' sub class that were planned under the project '971 I'. INS Chakra (Nerpa) submarine also belongs to the same sub class. With the lease of the Nerpa, India became the sixth operator of nuclear submarines in the world, after the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China.

India’s domestically-designed INS Arihant nuclear submarine is expected to be ready for operational deployment this year after final sea trials. Three more hulls of Arihant class are in different stages of construction.

News Courtesy -

INS Viraat to serve Indian Navy till 2016 and beyond

Capt. Biswajit Dasgupta, Commanding Officer of INS Viraat helped to lay rumors to rest, regarding near-future decommissioning plans of the vessel. “There’s no plan to pay the ship off at the moment. It will have life left for a few more years,” Capt. Dasgupta told the media aboard the vessel.

Capt. Dasgupta said the ship’s current round of refit was undertaken because it can still serve the Navy for some good years. In the first phase of refit - hull inspection and repair, machinery work and some minor jobs were scheduled. With the first phase nearly over, Viraat would now sail to Mumbai, maybe a couple of weeks from now for some essential repairs of its machinery and equipment at the Naval Dockyard. The aircraft carrier is expected to get back on duty in another three months.

When queried on the recent reports in media that Viraat would be decommissioned following the introduction of INS Vikramaditya, Capt. Dasgupta clarified - "Viraat retains the full capacity to perform its tasks, though old, but is still firing on all cylinders. We have updated Viraat with new technologies and devices. We have no doubts about her performance and power-projection capability”.

INS Viraat in glory ( Image Courtesy - )

One other navy official, in condition of anonymity said - Viraat looks pretty good to go till 2016 at least, and may be beyond. From thorough inspections carried out at all recent major refits, we have found that she is still in pretty good shape, and with Sea Harriers on-board she can project power anywhere in Indian Ocean, where our interest lies.

Hardly 100 metres away, in the CSL yard’s building bay, construction was apace on the country’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC), which will be named INS Vikrant on commissioning. With INS Vikramaditya, expected to arrive this year, Indian Navy is eagerly looking to operate two carrier battle groups again, after a long wait of sixteen years. 

Till 1997, Indian Navy used to operate two carrier battle groups, centered around INS Vikrant and INS Viraat. In few months down the line, if all goes well, Navy will be operating two carrier battle groups again, centered around INS Viraat and INS Vikramaditya.

News Courtesy -