A CGI rendering of Project 15B destroyer project

Budget Constrains Indian Navy’s New Warship Requirements

Some thirty months after the Indian Navy signed a contract for new warships (the Rs 45,381 crore deal in 2015 with Mazagon Dock Ltd, Mumbai (MDL) and Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers, Kolkata (GRSE) for seven stealth frigates under Project 17A),the Navy is finding it difficult to fund other warship procurement as it has “surrendered Rs 15,041 crore rupees during the last five years from its budgetary allocation for new warships.”

With contracts virtually finalised for 23 new warships, the navy is constrained by the lowest budgetary allocation since 2011-12 having this year only Rs 11,023 crore for fleet expansion, compared to Rs 13,617 crore in 2012-13; Rs 11,772 crore in 2013-14; Rs 12,576 crore in 2014-15, Rs 16,050 crore in 2015-16, and Rs 12,467 crore last year. However, most of this year’s Rs 11,023 crore budget is pre-committed towards instalments on earlier contracts and ongoing projects, including the construction of Project 75 Scorpene submarines, Project 15B destroyers, Project 17A frigates, Project 28 corvettes, the indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, and others. “The government thought it fit to take back Rs 4,371 crore last year and Rs 5,285 crore the year before. The 23 contracts nearing finalisation are for building in Indian shipyards of five hydro graphic survey vessels, two diving support vessels, and 16 anti-submarine warfare shallow water craft (ASWC),” as per a spokesman.

Naval Requirement For 111 Utility Helicopters

In October last year, the government accepted the necessity (AON) for procurement of 111 naval utility helicopters (NUH) worth Rs 21,738 crore for the Indian Navy, making this the first proposal under the strategic partnership model to get approval. Initially, 16 NUHs will be procured in a ‘fly away’ state from the selected foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and the remaining 95 will be made by the strategic partner in India. The RFI states that the helicopters should perform multi-roles including search and rescue, medical evacuation, anti-piracy, disaster relief and surveillance. The RFI also seeks information on the kind of torpedoes compatible with NUH. Firms including Bell, Sikorsky and Airbus, are likely contenders for this project.

Indian Naval Interest in E-MALS

According to reports, the governments of India and the US have made “some progress”on the launch system for the Indian Navy’s next carrier (IAC II), specifically for the electric propelled latest electromagnetic aircraft launch system (E-MALS). An 11 member US team led by Rear Admiral Brian Antonio, Program Executive Officer, aircraft carriers met his Indian counterpart Vice Admiral D M Deshpande, Controller Warship Production and Acquisition in Goa, wherein “the US was ready to power the E-MALS with integrated electric propulsion rather than nuclear power as the cost of latter alone is over $ 1 billion.” This will involve installation of giant capacitors for storage and discharge of power. IAC-II will be powered by heavy fuels instead of nuclear reactors as the cost of the latter amounts to a massive Rs 2 lakh crore.

Navy Requirement of Active Towed Array Sonar Systems

The Defence Acquisitions Council has accepted AoN for the procurement of nine active towed array sonar systems (advanced) for the navy at an estimated cost of Rs 450 crore. AoN is the first step in procurement of an equipment as following this, the government would issue RFPs to selected firms for their technical and commercial bids. “The equipment will be fitted on modern naval vessels and will enhance their submarine detection capabilities,” said an official.

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