April 7, 2015

Final induction grounds forces

The first of the six French Scorpene submarine joined the long list of key Indian defence platforms that have been awaiting final inductions into the armed forces after achieving key development milestones. Kalvari, as the first Scorpene has been christened, was undocked in Mumbai’s Mazagon Docks Limited on Monday after much delay. 
The submarine however, will be made available to navy only in September 2016 after undergoing sea trials. 
The navy is also awaiting the induction of indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant, which is being constructed at Cochin shipyard. Vikrant was launched in July 2013 by then defence minister A.K. Antony. 
The aircraft carrier will not be ready for an operational role before the end of 2018. 
The Indian Air Force (IAF) also has its own share of wait-lists. The Light Combat Aircraft Tejas initially got two operational clearances, but is yet to be inducted into the IAF. It can be declared fit for service only after the final operational clearance certification, which is not expected by the end of this year. 
The army, too, has been waiting for the home-built Main Battle Tank Arjun for several years. It is now hoping that the mark II version of the tank will be ready for operations after undergoing technological improvements. 
As far as navy is concerned, the undocking of Scorpene is just a small step towards building blue water capability of the Indian Navy whose underwater arm has struggled to evolve into a sturdy unit. 
The six French conventional boats were part of the ambitious 24 submarine construction plan conceived in 1999 which has fallen off track for numerous reasons. 
Some movement has taken place on the construction of remaining boats under the 24-submarine plan. The government is in the process to finalise domestic shipyards for making the next line of submarines under project 75 A


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