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Posted at: Jun 1, 2017, 1:48 AM; last updated: Jun 1, 2017, 11:17 AM (IST)

First ‘Made in India’ submarine joins Navy in a month

First ‘Made in India’ submarine joins Navy in a month
Kalvari sub is part of a project to produce 24 submarines by 2030

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 31

Eighteen years after an action plan was announced for having 24 modern submarines by 2030, the Navy would finally get its first indigenous sub within a month or two.

Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba today said first of the six indigenous submarines would be commissioned in July or August. The subs have been named ‘Kalvari’ (meaning deep sea tiger shark) after the first-ever Indian submarine that was commissioned in 1967 and decommissioned in 1996.

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Speaking on the sidelines of a seminar, “Building India’s Future Navy Technology Imperatives”, organised by Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Admiral Lanba said, “Kalvari, which fired an indigenous torpedo last week, is going through final trials.” Being built by MDL (a Ministry of Defence-owned company) in collaboration with France’s DCNS, Kalvari runs on a mix of diesel-electric power. It is a stealth sub referred to as ‘conventionally powered’ in security circles. 

The six submarines would be equipped with anti-ship missiles and long-range guided torpedoes along with a modern sensor suite.

For Naval planners, the worrisome part, however, is that China’s submarine fleet—of nuclear and conventionally powered—is four times that of India’s.

The Indian battle-ready under-sea fleet of diesel electric vessels is at present down to 14: nine Kilo-class (EKMs), four German-designed HDWs (SSKs) and one Akula class nuclear-powered submarine (SSN) on a 10-year lease from Russia (since 2012).

The Navy plans to have 22 submarines by 2021-22 and is looking at building more of these under the newly announced strategic partnership, which allows foreign companies to partner with Indian firms under the “Make in India” initiative. Making submarines here is one of the four targeted sectors, the other three being fighter jets, helicopters and tanks.

In comparison, China is rapidly expanding its submarine fleet. The US Department of Defence, in its annual report to the US Congress, has spelled out the rise of China’s submarine fleet. The report, “Military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China 2016”, says: “The People’s Liberation Army Navy places a high priority on the modernisation of its submarine force and presently possesses 61 vessels. By 2020, this force will likely grow to between 69 and 78 submarines.”

Admiral Lanba also said the indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant Admiral would begin trials in 2019 and be with us by 2020. 

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