Times of India | 30 April 2010
Country’s first indigenously-built stealth warship commissioned
MUMBAI: Its a lean, mean fighting machine. But what makes it capable of delivering the killer punch is its stealthy nature to catch the enemy completely off-guard. No wonder the warship’s crew have a theme song, which goes, “No limits for this baby, indeed, no limits.”
India’s stealthiest warship till now, the 6,200-tonne frigate INS Shivalik, with a lethal mix of weapons and sensors, was commissioned by defence minister A K Antony at the naval dockyard here on Thursday.
It’s not as if India has not had stealth warships, which “paint” much smaller than their actual size, on enemy radars, before. Navy got a taste of the art of deception, which can often turn the course of a battle, with the induction of three Russian 4,900-tonne Talwar-class stealthy frigates in 2003-2004. Impressed with their `lethal stealthy nature’, India ordered three more such frigates for Rs 5,514 crore.
But the `no limits’ INS Shivalik, with a crew of 30 officers and 250 sailors, has certainly created a lot of buzz. For one, it’s India’s first indigenously-designed and manufactured stealth warship, even though it has Israeli and Russian missile systems like Barak, Klub and Shtil, and American LM2500 gas turbines. “It’s a red-letter day….we are becoming a builder’s navy from a buyer’s navy, said Antony.
For another, the 142.5-metre long frigate is far more automated, with a spanking new combat management system, and stealthier than Talwar-class frigates. “INS Shivalik, built at Mazagon Docks (MDL), is one generation ahead. There is `no limit’ to what she can do,” said the warship’s proud captain, M D Suresh.
“She is not invisible to enemy radars…after all, she is 6,200 tonnes of steel. But stealth is all about hitting someone before he hits you. The aim is to ensure shorter ranges at which you can be detected, not invisibility,” he added.
Moreover, with INS Shivalik already having undertaken 23 sorties on the high seas, Capt Suresh is thrilled with its `rock-steady’ handling and over three weeks of sea endurance without refuelling. “This ship is bloody stable…that substantially improves my weapon-sensor capability,” he said.
INS Shivalik is also equipped with an advanced “total atmospheric control system” to ensure protection against nuclear, biological and chemical attacks. Its combined diesel-gas propulsion system is also a first for Indian warships. “For cruising, we use diesel engines. But for high speeds, we kick in the gas turbines,” said Capt Suresh.
INS Shivalik’s commissioning, of course, shows Indian naval designers have achieved a fair degree of proficiency in designing warships with `very low’ radar, infra-red, noise, frequency and magnetic `signatures’ to make them less visible to enemy radar or other detection systems.
“The structural, thermal and acoustic stealth features augment the potent capability of the ship to address threats in all the three dimensions – air, surface and undersea. It’s the largest stealth frigate in the world. Over 60% by value is the indigenous content in it,” said MDL chairman, Vice-Admiral (retd) H S Malhi.
INS Shivalik, in fact, will now act as the template for even stealthier warships to be built in India. The other two Shivalik-class frigates, INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri, for one, will join the Navy in 2010-2011 under the ongoing Rs 8,101-crore Project-17 at Mazagon Docks.
Then, there is the plan to build seven frigates under Project-17A and four guided-missile destroyers under Project-15B, which in all will cost upwards of Rs 65,000 crore. In them, even the weapon systems, including the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, will be hidden under the deck for enhanced stealth.
See Also: Project 17 Shivalik Class Frigate (GlobalSecurity.org)
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