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Posted at: Jan 12, 2015, 1:56 AM; last updated: Jan 12, 2015, 1:13 AM (IST)

India to ramp up amphibious capabilities with four warships

The ‘modern Trojan Horse’

  • The four warships will be the biggest-ever made in the country other than the under-construction 40,000 tonne sea-borne aircraft carrier the INS Vikrant
  • Called the Landing Platform Docks in naval parlance, each ship will approximately cost Rs 6,000 crore and are expected to deliver over the next 10 years
  • A modern-day sea-based version of the Roman epic “Trojan horse”, each ship carries, in its huge lower deck, hundreds of Indian Army troops with tanks, vehicles and cargo

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 11

India is on its way to indigenously build four warships, which will be the biggest-ever made in the country other than the under-construction 40,000 tonne sea-borne aircraft carrier the INS Vikrant.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had re-issued a request for proposal (RFP) to Indian private sector shipyards in September to build four amphibious assault ships, also called the Landing Platform Docks (LPD) in naval parlance. Each of these will approximately cost Rs 6,000 crore and are expected to deliver over the next 10 years.

Each of these ships will be anything between 35,000 and 40,000 tonnes. The Indian shipyards have been asked to locate their own foreign collaborator. “The bids have come in,” a source in the Navy said. The RFP was sent to ABG, Larsen & Toubro (L&T), and Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering.

The successful private shipyard and its foreign collaborator will be given order for two such ships and the two others will be made by the MoD-owned Hindustan Shipyard Limited, Visakhapatnam, at the same price being paid to the private builder.

This signals an important change in the long-term strategic plan as this will be huge jump over the existing capability of launching offensive sea-borne. The LPDs are essentially the first step towards increasing capability to launch “out-of-country operations”.

The LPDs are essentially a modern-day sea-based version of the Roman epic “Trojan horse”. Each carries, in its huge lower deck, hundreds of Indian Army troops with tanks, vehicles and cargo. Such a ship can deliver men and equipment near a sea beach and does not need a berthing dock, hence providing the option for landing thousands of troops near a spot chosen to attack.

The size of the LPDs indicates the Indian Navy’s growing amphibious warfare capacity. As of now, the biggest such variety of vessel is INS Jalashwa, a 16,900 tonne ship. Another five warships classified as Landing ship tank large (LST-L) are some 5,600 tonnes each, another four ships are just 1,100 tonnes and lastly the smallest are 650 tonnes and six of these are in service.

Forces that move across sea are referred to as “amphibious task force”. At present, India has the capability to move a Brigade, some 5,000 men, using the lone LPD, INS Jalashwa, along with a fleet of five smaller 5,600-tonne (LST-Ls) each of which can carry 10 tanks, 11 combat trucks and 500 troops.

Each of the new LPDs will have three times the capacity and have multi-role helicopters, including heavy lift helicopters to provide even greater flexibility.

Foreign shipbuilders offering such ships include DCNS of France, Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, Fincantieri of Italy, South Korea’s Hanjin Heavy Industries & Constructions Co and Navantia of Spain.

India has sought a vessel of 213 metre, endurance at sea for 45 days, the vessel must be able to house combat vehicles (including main battle tanks, infantry combat vehicles and heavy trucks on one or more vehicle deck), and the vessel should be able to undertake all-weather operations involving heavy lift helicopters of up to 35 tonne.

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