Defence Minister A K Antony said the Indian Navy will get seven more indigenous stealth frigate warships to give the service a stealthy power punch.
The INS Sahyadri, the last of the three first-generation indigenous stealth frigate, was recently inducted into the Navy. The first two—INS Shivalik and Satpura—were commissioned in the last two years.
“Contract negotiations are going on for seven more stealth frigates, four of which will be made at Mazgaon Dock Ltd in Mumbai and three in Garden Reach shipbuilder's yard in Kolkata. Once the negotiations are completed, we will take it to the Cabinet,” Antony said. Current economic slowdown will not have any impact on the capital budget for the Defence Ministry.
The next generation warships to made under approximately Rs 50,000 crore Project-17A will have more improved stealth features to further reduce radar signatures and under water radiated noise. They will also have slick appearance and multifunction radar to further bring down detection chances. The weapon platform in the seven ships of next generation will also be compacted in the P-17A ships. They will be armed with an advanced surface-to-air missile being developed jointly by India and Israel as well as Brahmos cruise missile.
The weapon system will be flush-deck mounted that will allow vertical launch of missiles from under the deck, said a navy official involved in designing the ships. Among the three first-generation stealth frigates, the Sahyadri has the minimum number (less than 50) ship liability defects, which will be corrected by the shipyard in the next one year. For Shivalik, the corresponding number was 140.
Antony said going by the current order book position every year, the Navy will receive five warships and the service had become a role model for the Army and Air Force when compared on the level of indigenisation in the three services.
All the three new indigenous stealth frigates—Shivalik, Satpura and Sahyadri—will be part of the Eastern Naval Command in Vishakhapatnam, whose strategic importance is growing in the light of China's expanding prominence in the Indian Ocean region.
Asked about India's role in the South China Sea where both countries had a face-off in the last two years, Antony said India has a limited role there as far as the security of the sea lanes are concerned. But New Delhi is in favour unhindered passage of its ships and freedom of navigation in international waters