Friday, December 31, 2010

Arleigh Burke-class: USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109)

USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the United States Navy. She is named after Corporal Jason L. Dunham USMC, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq.

Jason Dunham is the 59th destroyer in her class and built by the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. She was christened by Corporal Dunham's mother, Debra Dunham, and launched on August 1, 2009. Jason Dunham was commissioned on 13 November 2010 with Commander M. Scott Sciretta in command.

Spanish Navy frigate Alvaro de Bazan Class 5th Air Defense Roger de Lauria (F105)

Spain's air defense frigate F100 Alvaro de Bazan Class Burnham Roger de Lauria (F105).

The Álvaro de Bazán class (also known as the F100 class of frigates) are a new class of Aegis combat system-equipped air defense frigates entering service with the Spanish Navy. They are being built in the Spanish factory of Ferrol and are named after Admiral Álvaro de Bazán.

The ships utilize American Aegis weapons technology allowing them to track hundreds of airborne targets simultaneously as part of its air defense network. The F100 Alvaro de Bazan class multirole frigate is one of the few non-US warships to carry the Aegis Combat System and its associated AN/SPY-1 radar. (Japan's Kongo class and the F100-derived Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen class of frigates also use the Aegis system.)

The F100 will be the basis of the Australian Hobart class destroyer (previously known as the "Air Warfare Destroyer"). The Australian government announced in June 2007 that, in partnership with Navantia, three F100 vessels will be built for the Royal Australian Navy with the first due for delivery in 2014.

Lockheed Martin, Navantia and the U.S. Navy are conducting final systems integration.

The Alvaro de Bazan class frigates are the first modern vessels of the Spanish Navy to incorporate ballistic resistant steel in the hull, along with the power plants being mounted on anti-vibration mounts, reducing the noise and making them less detectable by submarines.

Baltic states fault France’s warship deal with Russia

Vilnius: Lithuania and Latvia on Monday took NATO ally France to task over a warship deal with Russia, with Vilnius warning that Paris was setting a risky precedent. "I think this is a mistake," Lithuania's Defence Minister Rasa Jukneviciene told reporters. "This is a precedent, when a NATO and EU member sells offensive weaponry to a country whose democracy is not at a level that would make us feel calm." Lithuania and fellow Baltic states Latvia and Estonia -- who were ruled by Moscow until 1991 -- have repeatedly criticised France's plans since Paris began negotiating a warship sale with Russia in 2009.

Last Friday, France said it had struck a deal under which Moscow would buy two Mistral-class command and amphibious assault warships from a French-led consortium, with the possibility of two more. "Of course, for countries around Russia, this is not pleasant news. It's definitely not the Christmas gift we would have liked to receive," Jukneviciene said. Latvian Defence Minister Artis Pabriks said he was upset that France had ignored the concerns of its regional NATO allies, but underlined that he did not believe the sale would cause major security problems in the Baltic Sea. "Looking at the situation from a realistic viewpoint, one has to admit that French economic interests -- in this case, selling the ships -- would have no dramatic effects either on the balance of forces in the region or NATO strategy in the Baltic states," he was quoted as saying by the Baltic News Service.

The deal, which involves joint construction of the Mistral-class ships, is the first sale to Russia of such naval high-tech by a NATO nation. A Mistral-class vessel can carry up to 16 helicopters, four landing craft, 13 battle tanks, around 100 other vehicles and a 450-strong force. It has facilities for a full command staff and is equipped with a 69-bed hospital. The Russian army has said such a ship would have helped it win its August 2008 war with ex-Soviet Georgia within hours rather than days. Russian military moves raise concerns in the Baltic states. The Kremlin only withdrew its troops from their territory in 1994, three years after they won independence when the communist bloc collapsed. The three states, with a combined population of 6.8 million, still have rocky relations with giant Russia, notably since joining NATO and the EU in 2004.

The Mistral: France's amphibious assault ship

The Mistral-class warship, of which two versions will jointly be built by France and Russia, is an amphibious assault ship or helicopter carrier, used by the French Navy. Referred to as "projection and command ships" or "BPC", a Mistral class ship is capable of transporting 16 helicopters, deploying up to six of them on the deck at any one time. It also can carry four landing barges, 13 battle tanks, around 100 other vehicles and a 450-strong force, and is able to unload troops into the theatre of operations. The ship has facilities for a full command staff and is equipped with a 69-bed hospital.

The Mistral came officially into active service on December 15, 2006. But already in mid-2006 it had demonstrated its operational capacity by evacuating to Cyprus some 4,700 civilians from Beirut who were trapped in the conflict between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah. It is capable of serving as part of a NATO Response Force or with United Nations or European Union peacekeepers. A powerful warship costing around 500 million euros (650 million dollars), the Mistral-class are the biggest French warships, after the aircraft carrier the Charles de Gaulle. The French Navy has two of them in service, the Mistral and the Tonnerre. Each is 199 metres (653-feet) long and 32 metres (105-feet) wide and displaces 21,600 tonnes fully loaded.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Russia opts for French Mistral-class warships for its Navy (WRAPUP)

Russia has opted for France's Mistral-class helicopter carriers for its Navy after announcing that the winner of the Russian Defense Ministry's tender for amphibious assault ships was a consortium comprised of French DCNS and Russia's United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC).

At the initial stage, two Mistral-class helicopter carriers will be built jointly by France and Russia at the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. Another two will be constructed later at the Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg.

The first Mistral-class ship is expected to be built within 36 months after Russia makes an advance payment scheduled for January 2011.

Russia had previously held talks with France on the purchase of Mistral-class warships on a 2+2 scheme whereby Russia would buy one or two French-built Mistrals and build another two under license at home.

A Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing vessels, up to 70 armored vehicles including 13 battle tanks, and 450 personnel.

The Russian military has said it plans to use Mistral ships in its Northern and Pacific fleets.

Many Russian military and industry experts have questioned the financial and military sense of the purchase, and some believe that Russia simply wants to gain access to advanced naval technology that could be used in the future in potential conflicts with NATO and its allies.

France wins tender to build warships for Russia

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy over the phone that France has won a tender to build amphibious assault ships for Russia.

The winner is a consortium comprised of French DCNS and Russia's United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), the Kremlin press service said.

At the initial stage, two Mistral-class helicopter carriers will be built jointly by France and Russia with another two to be constructed later in Russia.

Russia will perform 20% of the construction work at the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, USC spokesman Igor Ryabov said.

"Subsequently the share of the project's localization in Russia will increase," he said.

Russia has been in talks with France on the purchase of Mistral-class warships on a 2+2 scheme whereby Russia will buy one or two French-built Mistrals and build another two under license at home.

A Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing vessels, up to 70 armored vehicles including 13 battle tanks, and 450 personnel.

The Russian military has said it plans to use Mistral ships in its Northern and Pacific fleets.

Many Russian military and industry experts have questioned the financial and military sense of the purchase, and some believe that Russia simply wants to gain access to advanced naval technology that could be used in the future in potential conflicts with NATO and its allies.

Russia to begin building first Project 11356 frigate for Black Sea Fleet

RUSSIA: The construction of the first Project 11356 frigate for Russia's Black Sea Fleet will begin at the Yantar Shipyard in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad on Saturday, a spokesman for the Russian Navy said.

Yantar won a tender to build three Project 11356 frigates in October. The Black Sea Fleet chief earlier told RIA Novosti the construction would begin in January 2011.

The ship will be named Admiral Grigorovich after Russia's Naval Minister Ivan Grigorovich, who was in office in 1911-1917, the spokesman said.

The frigate, with a displacement of 4,000 tons, will be equipped with a 100-mm gun, a Shtil surface-to-air missile system, two Kashtan air-defense gun/missile systems, two twin 533-mm torpedo launchers, and an anti-submarine warfare helicopter.

The Russian Navy chief, Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky, earlier said one or two Project 11356 frigates will join the Black Sea Fleet every year starting 2013.

Yantar is currently building three Project 11356 frigates for the Indian Navy under a $1.6-billion contract signed in 2007. The first warship, which was floated out last November, will be handed over to India in mid-2011. The two others will be delivered by the end of 2012.

Russia has previously built three Talwar-class frigates for India – INS Talwar (Sword), INS Trishul (Trident), and the INS Tabar (Axe).

Russia buys 2-door military helicopter in France

Russia has agreed to buy two ships military helicopters to a consortium led by French companies, said the Russian and French governments on Friday.

The deal was the first major agreement for the sale of arms from France to Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union.

After long negotiations it was decided that the assault helicopter carrier Mistral class will be built by French companies DCNS and STX with Russian state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation, known as OSK.

Some NATO allies the French had shown concern over the deal, signaling for France not to sell high-tech systems that could be used by Russia against ex-Soviet republics, especially after the Russians coming into conflict with neighboring Georgia in 2008.

The agreement includes an option to build two more carriers, the statement said.

The note did not report the value of the deal, but the helicopter-probably cost between 400 and 500 million euros each.

The acquisition is part of the plan by Russia to modernize its armed forces.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A proposal to share the UK's 2nd carrier with NATO or France or the US?

The first is to offer the second carrier to Nato, designating it a Nato asset with the modifications and operational costs underwritten jointly by all Nato countries, in the way that the Alliance’s Awacs fleet is operated today. The Royal Navy could supply the crew, or the carrier could be manned by a multinational Nato crew. Cost-sharing, the crewing arrangements and deployment patterns would present challenges, but not insuperable ones. A month after the alliance reaffirmed its commitment to common defence at the Lisbon summit, this may be an idea whose time has come.

Sharing a carrier’s costs would project Nato’s power in defence of the sea lanes and would be striking affirmation of its purpose. It would be a way of challenging Nato members whose defence spending falls short of the target of 2 per cent of GDP to take a fairer share of the strain. This option is one that Nato defence ministers could discuss at their meeting next March.A second option would be to share the carrier with France. The UK/France summit in November at which David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy signed might make this viable. The carrier would need to be configured to take French naval planes as well as JSFs; and both countries would need to agree that when either had its exclusively national carrier in refit the second carrier would be immediately available as a replacement.

A third option is sharing the carrier with America. The huge budget deficit confronting the Obama administrationmakes cuts to the US defence budget all but inevitable. The US navy’s carrier fleet is a likely target. One way of easing the strain on both US and UK naval budgets would be to share the second carrier, perhaps for a year at a time; perhaps with a UK starboard crew and a US port one. This would be a bi-national variation of the two-crew system currently used by each nation when deploying Trident submarines.

Navy launches first aircraft using EMALS

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – The Navy made history Saturday when it launched the first aircraft from the Naval Air Systems Command, Lakehurst, N.J., test site using the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, or EMALS, technology.

The Navy has been using steam for more than 50 years to launch aircraft from carriers. Saturday, the Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) program launched an F/A-18E Super Hornet using the EMALS technology that will replace steam catapults on future aircraft carriers.

“This is a tremendous achievement not just for the ALRE team, but for the entire Navy,” said Capt. James Donnelly, ALRE program manager. “Saturday’s EMALS launch demonstrates an evolution in carrier flight deck operations using advanced computer control, system monitoring and automation for tomorrow’s carrier air wings.”

EMALS is a complete carrier-based launch system designed for Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and future Ford-class carriers.

“I thought the launch went great,” said Lt. Daniel Radocaj, the test pilot from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23) who made the first EMALS manned launch. “I got excited once I was on the catapult but I went through the same procedures as on a steam catapult. The catapult stroke felt similar to a steam catapult and EMALS met all of the expectations I had.”

The current aircraft launch system for Navy aircraft carriers is the steam catapult. Newer, heavier and faster aircraft will result in launch energy requirements approaching the limits of the steam catapult system.

The mission and function of EMALS remain the same as the steam catapult; however, EMALS employs entirely different technologies. EMALS will deliver the necessary higher launch energy capacity as well as substantial improvements in system weight, maintenance, increased efficiency, and more accurate end-speed control.

“I felt honored to be chosen as the Shooter to help launch the first live aircraft tested on the new EMALS track at Lakehurst,” said Chief Petty Officer Brandon Barr, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Test Department, Lakehurst. “It was very exciting to knowingly be a part of naval aviation history. Petty Officers 1st Class Hunsaker and Robinson, Petty Officers 2nd Class Williams, Wong, and Simmons, were the sailors on my team who worked together to help make this test a success. We all look forward to seeing this cutting edge technology deployed on the Gerald R. Ford."

“I’m excited about the improvement EMALS will bring to the fleet from a capability and reliability perspective,” said Cmdr. Russ McCormack, ALRE, PMA-251, deputy program manager for future systems. “EMALS was designed for just that purpose, and the team is delivering that requirement.”

The system’s technology allows for a smooth acceleration at both high and low speeds, increasing the carrier’s ability to launch aircraft in support of the warfighter.

The system will provide the capability for launching all current and future carrier air wing platforms – lightweight unmanned to heavy strike fighters.

Engineers will continue system functional demonstration testing at NAVAIR Lakehurst. The team will expand aircraft launches with the addition of T-45 and C-2 aircraft next year.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Navy to induct first Italian-made tanker in January next

NEW DELHI: Navy is scheduled to induct the first of the two Italian-made tanker ships in its fleet by the end of January next, providing it with the capability to send supplies to its sailing warships instead of these having to visit ports for replenishment.

"The Navy will formally induct the first of the two tankers, christened INS Deepak, at a function in Mumbai by the end of January next year," a senior Defence Ministry official said here today.

Tentatively, the induction ceremony will take place at the Mumbai Naval docks on January 21 or there about.

Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, which won the contract for building the two tankers in October 2008, has built the Deepak class of tankers and the second ship, INS Shakti, in this class is currently under final stages of trials.

Deepak had been launched in the waters at Fincantieri's Muggiano shipyard on February 12 this year and Shakti on October 11 this year at the firm's Sestri Ponente (Genova) shipyard.

The two tankers, having a displacement of 27,500 tonnes at full load, are 175-metre long and propelled by two 10,000 kilowatt diesel engines.

These ships can attain a maximum speed of 20 knots and have the capacity to carry fuel for four warships at a time.

The tankers are manned by 250 crew members and have the capacity to carry troops too, apart from carrying a 10-ton helicopters on its flight deck.

INS Shakti too is scheduled for induction into the Navy before the end of 2011.

In July this year, the Fincantieri contract had come under CAG's criticism for acceptance of inferior-grade steel used in the manufacture of the fleet tankers, saying it amounted to "undue favour to a foreign vendor in (the) procurement of fleet tankers."

CCS nod for 4 more stealth destroyers

NEW DELHI: The government has cleared another major programme, 'Project-15B', to indigenously construct four guided-missile stealth destroyers for around Rs 30,000-crore at Mazagon Docks.

In its quest to become a powerful three-dimensional blue-water force and maintain a fleet of around 140 "surface and sub-surface combatants", the Navy already has 30 warships and six submarines on order in various Indian shipyards.

Moreover, it has an aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov or INS Vikramditya, three additional Talwar-class stealth frigates in Russia, as also two fleet tankers in Italy under construction.

Project-15B, which will be undertaken at MDL after the three Kolkata-class 6,700-tonne destroyers already being constructed there under a long-delayed Rs 11,662-crore project are finally delivered in 2012-2014, is understood to have been cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security on Wednesday evening. It was earlier cleared by the Defence Acquisitions Council, chaired by defence minister A K Antony, in July.

P81 aircraft to be inducted into INS Rajali soon

Rear Admiral DM Sudan, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Air), said Naval Air Station, INS Rajali, Arakkonam, was all set for major growth with the induction of the P81 aircraft – capable of long range maritime reconnaissance, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare as well as search and rescue missions – in the near future.

He was speaking at the passing-out parade of the 75th Helicopter Conversion Course of the Helicopter Training School (HTS) located at INS Rajali. He awarded the “Wings of Gold” to nine trainee pilots from the Indian Navy and seven from the Coast Guard, including first two women pilots, a release said.

“It would be fitted with the best available sensors. We have to ensure that while we still continue to operate our existing assets, the new technology is imbibed and state-of-the-art platforms exploited to their full potential at the earliest,” he said.

He pointed out that INS Rajali had become one of the premier air stations of the Navy over the years.

The Navy, as indeed the Coast Guard, was at the threshold of a major expansion in aviation capability with new, advanced and capable aircraft in the pipeline for induction.

“As far as the fighter stream is concerned, the Indian Navy has already inducted the Mig 29 K aircraft and they have been based at Goa. With respect to helicopters, the process for procurement of multi-role helicopters is under way,” he said.

Upgrading the existing fleet of helicopters was under “active consideration.” The young pilots passing out on the occasion would surely be flying state-of-the-art helicopters soon, he added.

Noting that it was for the first time in the history of the HTS that six Commercial Pilot License holders from the Coast Guard were graduating, he said among them was the first batch of two women trainee pilots who have been trained by HTS.

“This is the first time that women officers are being inducted as helicopter pilots in the Coast Guard,” he said.

The helicopter stream of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard offered one of the most challenging dimensions of maritime operations. Operating helicopters from ships' deck demanded professional skill, grit and determination, he said.

The passing out parade was the culmination of 21 weeks of training in flying and aviation subjects held at HTS. The two women pilots – Assistant Commandant Bhawana Rana and Assistant Commandant Ruchi Sangwan – were the first two women pilots to graduate from the school. They were from Haryana.

The Governor of Kerala Rolling Trophy for the best all round trainee pilot was awarded to Lieutenant Rakesh. The Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command Rolling Trophy for the trainee pilot standing first in order of merit in flying was presented to Lieutenant Rakesh, while a book prize for standing first in ground subjects was awarded to Lieutenant Asoom Sharma, the release said.

Changes to Royal Navy’s Surface Fleet Announced

Changes to the Royal Navy's surface fleet, including the withdrawal from service of HMS Illustrious and the four remaining Type 22 frigates, have been announced today by Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox.

The changes follow announcements regarding the Royal Navy's surface fleet in the White Paper 'Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review' published on 19 October.

In a written ministerial statement to parliament today, Dr Fox said that HMS Illustrious will be withdrawn from service in 2014 and HMS Ocean will be retained to provide the landing platform helicopter capability for the longer term.

Four frigates are also to be withdrawn from service. These are the remaining Type 22s: HMS Chatham, Campbeltown, Cumberland and Cornwall.

Chatham will be withdrawn from service at the end of January 2011, Campbeltown and Cumberland will follow on 1 April, and Cornwall at the end of April.

HMS Ark Royal will be finally withdrawn from service at the end of this year.

The Bay Class amphibious support ship to be withdrawn from service will be RFA Largs Bay, in April 2011. The Auxiliary Oiler RFA Bayleaf and the Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment vessel RFA Fort George will also be withdrawn from service in April next year.

October's White Paper explained the Government's intention to make certain changes to the Armed Forces in order to deliver the force structure we require for the future and to help address the legacy of unaffordability in the Defence Budget.

Today's written ministerial statement explains in more detail those changes that affect the Royal Navy's surface fleet.

HMS Ark Royal, Ocean and Illustrious

The White Paper announced that the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal would be decommissioned, and, accordingly, she will finally be withdrawn from service at the end of this month.

It also announced that either her sister ship HMS Illustrious or the Landing Platform Helicopter ship HMS Ocean would be withdrawn from service following a short study into which of these two ships was better able to provide the capability we require over the next few years.

This work has now been completed and it has been decided that HMS Ocean should be retained to provide our landing platform helicopter capability for the longer term.

HMS Illustrious will be withdrawn from service in 2014, once Ocean has emerged from a planned refit and been returned to a fully operational state. This will ensure that we retain the ability to deliver an amphibious intervention force from the sea and maintain an experienced crew to support the later introduction into service of the new Queen Elizabeth Class carrier.

HMS Chatham, Campbeltown, Cumberland and Cornwall

The White Paper explained that four frigates would be withdrawn from service in 2011. These are the remaining Type 22 frigates HMS Chatham, Campbeltown, Cumberland and Cornwall.

Chatham will be withdrawn from service at the end of January 2011 and Campbeltown and Cumberland will follow on 1 April.

HMS Cornwall will be withdrawn at the end of April once she has returned from her current operational deployment to the Indian Ocean.

Amphibious Ships
Other changes affect the Navy's amphibious ships. One of the two Landing Platform Dock ships will in future be placed at extended readiness while the other is held at high readiness for operations.

From November 2011, the high-readiness ship will be HMS Bulwark, and on current plans this will change to HMS Albion in late 2016 when Bulwark enters a refit period.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary
The final changes affect the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. The White Paper said that there would be a fleet of resupply and refuelling vessels scaled to meet the Royal Navy's requirements.

With a smaller surface fleet these requirements are correspondingly lower, and hence we have decided to withdraw from service the Auxiliary Oiler RFA Bayleaf and the Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment vessel RFA Fort George from April 2011.

Additionally the Bay-Class amphibious support ship RFA Largs Bay will be withdrawn from service in April 2011.

HMS Ark Royal Makes Her Final Return to Portsmouth

Fleet flagship HMS Ark Royal returned to her home port of Portsmouth for the final time today, ending 25 years of service to the Royal Navy across the globe.

The aircraft carrier is being decommissioned early next year and sailed into Portsmouth Naval Base following a brief farewell tour of the UK and a stopover in Hamburg.

In keeping with tradition she flew a decommissioning pennant.

Her role as the current Royal Navy flagship will initially be taken on by amphibious assault ship HMS Albion.

Ark Royal’s farewell voyage took her around the north of Scotland and on into Newcastle where she was built by Swan Hunters at Wallsend.

“There is no question that there is a certain amount of sadness attached to this final deployment,” said Commanding Officer, Captain Jerry Kyd. “But it is also an opportunity for us to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of this fine ship and for us to show her off once more.

“She has played a very important role throughout her history and we have always been lucky enough to draw great affection and support from the British public wherever we go.

“For me, personally, I have been exceptionally proud to serve as her Captain – my very first job after finishing my initial officer training 25 years ago at Dartmouth was in the then brand new HMS Ark Royal. It is therefore a great honour for me to be able to command her farewell tour as her last Captain.

“I am very fortunate to be at the helm of an exceptional crew, whose professional skills will be re-allocated and valued in the wider Royal Naval service, long after the ship herself has been decommissioned – so her work and memory will continue to serve the Royal Navy well.

“I am only too aware that this famous ship and her iconic name mean so much to so many, but although Ark Royal will be decommissioned, the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers are vastly more capable and provide the Royal Navy with an exciting future.”

The fifth vessel to bear the proud name, Ark Royal was launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on 20 June 1981, accepted into service on July 1 1985 and commissioned on November 1985.

During her busy life the ship has seen service around the globe and has shown her adaptability from the original role as an anti-submarine helicopter carrier designed for the Cold War through to the Commando helicopter and carrier strike role of recent years.

Ark’s operations have included playing a pivotal part of the NATO campaign during the Bosnia conflict and, in early 2003, leading the UK’s naval forces during Op Telic – the invasion of Iraq, with a fleet of helicopters embarked.

In 2010, HMS Ark Royal has led a large multi-national task force during Operation Auriga and, this year alone, has demonstrated versatility operating a wide range of aircraft, including Joint Force GR9 Harrier jets, US Marine Corps, AV8B Harrier jets, as well as Chinook, Apache, Sea King, Merlin and Lynx helicopters.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Simulator 'spark plug' for the U.S. Navy submarine

Prototype of Submarine Bridge Trainer (SBT) facilitates the training of the most critical phase in the operation of submarines, outputs and inputs of port

Using a series of projectors Barco SIM 5, the U.S. Navy developed the "Submarine Trainer Bridge," which provides students a high-resolution immersive experience that simulates the sail of a submarine.

The system was developed by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWCDIVNPT) in Newport and allows eight students and an instructor lead training and undocking of attraction, increasing the skills of the crew, safety and efficiency of these operations.

For years only the pilots relied on the ease of flight simulators to help in the training and emergency procedures. And now, with the SBT, the sailors have the same level of control and realism to the training.

Naval Mig-29k develops Hydraulic failure leading to tyre burst

A Russian-made MiG-29K fighter plane, recently inducted into the Indian Navy, developed a technical problem at INS Hansa base in Goa but caused no casualties, naval officials said today.

Flag officer commanding Goa area (FOGA) Sudhir Pillai said the pilot had to apply emergency brakes on the airstrip when the error occurred, resulting in a tyre burst.

“There was a hydraulic failure of the aircraft because of which the pilot had to apply emergency brakes,” Pillai told PTI.

MiG-29K is an all-weather carrier-based multi-role fighter aircraft, which is recently inducted in Indian Navy and based at INS Hansa.

He said no inquiry has been commissioned of the incident as the snag occurred due to ‘technical problem’.

“Applying emergency brakes in case of hydraulic failure is a standard operating procedure,” Pillai said.

Navy to acquire AIP technology for Scorpenes

The navy’s Scorpene submarines are likely to have increased operational range and also do away with surfacing to access atmospheric oxygen, thanks to the new Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) technology.

The submarines, under construction at the Mumbai-based Mazagon Docks Limited, are likely to get the AIP technology that will increase their operational range without having to surface to access atmospheric oxygen.

The navy is considering various options available with it to fit the last two of the six submarines under the project, codenamed P75, with the AIP including the proposal made by French defence company DCNS.

DCNS Chairman and CEO Patrick Boissier, who is part of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s delegation to India, told reporters here that his firm has made an informal proposal to the navy in this regard.

“We have made an informal proposal to the navy for AIP technology in the last two of the Scorpenes that will be built at MDL. Now it is up to the navy to take a call on this proposal. We have held informal discussions in this regard,” Boissier said.

“The navy is considering the proposal and will take a call on it. We have some options, apart from the DCNS one, including an indigenous AIP system that is under development,” a navy officer, unwilling to be named, said here.

AIP encompasses technologies that allow a submarine to operate without the need to surface or use a snorkel to access atmospheric oxygen and it usually excludes the use of nuclear power, but is about augmenting or replacing diesel-electric propulsion system of non-nuclear vessels.

Several countries in the world currently adopt the AIP technology in the submarines that they build and these include the US, Russia, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden.

Though the Scorpenes, being built with DCNS and Tales help at MDL, did not envisage AIP for the six submarines under the P75 project, the navy’s second line of six conventional submarines, called P75I, which were recently approved by the government, will incorporate the technology.

Talking about P75, Bossier said DCNS was in charge of major transfer of technology (ToT) to MDL for the building of 6 Scorpene submarines.

“We are carrying out genuine transfers of technologies and know-how at an unprecedented level under the Scorpene project right from the first submarine, which is under construction at present,” he said.

DCNS is providing Indian partners with technical assistance to manufacture equipment through indigenisation programmes.

“MDL has today absorbed the demanding technologies associated to hull fabrication. The shipyard modernisation programme launched by MDL will allow it to deliver more than one submarine per year,” he added.

The Scorpene project is currently delayed by over two years now and the first submarine is expected to be delivered by MDL only in 2012, after which the remaining five are expected at the rate of one submarine every year.

Boissier said MDL had already done the work on the hulls for the first two of the six Scorpenes and the work on the third and fourth vessels’ hulls were in progress.

“The frame to receive the hull of the fifth submarine is in progress. As you know, the launch of the first submarine has been delayed. We are constantly working with MDL and Delhi authorities to achieve the earliest possible date of launch,” Boissier noted.

At present, the outfitting works on the first Scorpene are in progress and the delivery of combat system equipment for it would happen soon. The other five submarines would get the equipment at the rate of one per year.

For the upcoming stages of the building (outfittings, systems integration and trials), Boissier said an new approach was needed at the MDL and together with DCNS, the shipyard had set up a ‘task force’ to monitor quality and improve efficiency.

“MDL is the only Indian naval shipyard to have produced submarines in the past. However, the competencies developed have seen a dip in the last 15 years.

“Considering submarines technologies, this is a huge gap to fill. Human competences, when not maintained, disappear slowly but surely. Industrial capacities too become weak or obsolete. You, therefore, have to consider new investments and learning stages that cost both time and money. It is crucial to keep competencies and industrial capacities up to date to perpetuate the investments made,” he said.

Navy retires INS Vagli, India down to 14 subs

NEW DELHI: The last of India's Foxtrot-class submarines, INS Vagli, will retire after 36 years of operational service on Thursday. But the well-deserved nostalgia over INS Vagli's yeoman service should come with a harsh reality check.

India is now down to just 14 ageing submarines, with only eight to nine operational at any given time. It will get progressively worse. By the time Navy gets the first of the six Scorpene submarines being built at Mazagon Docks in 2015 — the Rs 23,562-crore project is already running three years behind schedule — only 10 submarines will be operational.

Latest projections, in fact, show India will have only five of the existing 10 Russian Kilo-class and four German HDW submarines by 2020. And only two by 2022.

Even if the six Scorpenes manage to roll out between 2015 and 2020, as is now expected, India will have a grand total of just eight to nine diesel-electric submarines by 2022.

This when the requirement is for at least 18 conventional submarines, with both China and Pakistan rapidly bolstering their underwater combat capabilities.

It, once again, underlines India's sheer lack of long-term strategic planning to systematically build military capabilities in tune with geo-political objectives, despite big bucks being spent on defence acquisitions in recent years.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Gorshkov Carrier: Good Things Are Worth Waiting For

The Indian Navy is still waiting for the delivery of the Russian-built aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (ex-Admiral Gorshkov), which has been scheduled for December 2012. As Indian Defence Minister Shri A.K. Antony recently informed the government, the delay of the delivery is, in particular, due to the “requirement of additional work and changes in the scope of trials.” According to the Indian Press Information Bureau, the Minister explained that these additional refurbishments of the giant vessel would significantly increase its service life. The carrier is currently docked at the Russian Sevmash shipyard.

The Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier was launched in 1982 and entered service with the Russian Navy in 1987. In 2004, Russia agreed to sell the aircraft carrier, which required serious refurbishment and modernisation, to India. However, payment issues and unexpectedly intensive work requirements repeatedly forced Russia to delay the ship’s delivery. Should the carrier finally join the Indian Navy in 2012, it will see active service after sixteen years of being moored in Russian ports and shipyards since it was offered for sale in 1996.

The procurement of the Admiral Gorshkov has certainly caused stomach aches to one or the other members of the Indian government, as costs have steadily increased throughout recent years. Originally, India agreed to purchase the ship at a price of $974 million. Subsequently, this amount increased by an additional $1.5 billion. However, the aged Admiral Gorshkov required more than a new layer of paint and a little smooth and polish. The money was quickly spent by the Russian shipyard, which underestimated the required amount of work. Further, according to Antony, the original contract was supplemented by “an exhaustive list of equipment to be fitted on the ship.”

In March, on the occasion of an official visit of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to India, the two countries announced the signing of an agreement for an additional $2.35 billion in support of the carrier’s refurbishment and training of Indian naval crews; these additional funds had already been approved by the Indian government months before the bilateral meeting. This adds up to a proud price tag for a vessel which has been criticised by some defence experts for being too expensive while not providing the state-of-the-art capabilities required by the Indian Navy in the current security-political environment

As the Minister explained this summer, a team of Indian specialists, comprising officers, sailors and civilian personnel, have been sent to Russia to monitor the progress of the work onboard the ship. In June, the Indian Navy expressed delight at the Sevmash shipyard’s progress. “The pace of the work has picked up significantly in the last six months. This can be attributed to the additional deployment of manpower for the refurbishment of the aircraft carrier,” Indian Navy spokesperson Commander Satish told an Indian news service.

The Admiral Gorshkov, which has been re-christened the INS Vikramaditya by India, is a modified Kiev-class carrier. It reportedly has a displacement capacity of 45,000 tons, a maximum speed of 32 knots and a range of 13,500 nautical miles (25,000 kilometres) at a cruising speed of 18 knots. The ship will accommodate Russian-built MiG-29K fighter aircraft, which have already been purchased for some $526 million, along with the aircraft carrier in 2004. The aircraft are configured for Short Take Off But Arrested Landing (STOBAR), take-offs being supported by the ship’s prominent ski-jump ramp. The first batch of MiG-29Ks was inducted into the Indian Navy earlier this year and will operate from the shore-based facility at INS Hansa in Goa until the aircraft carrier is delivered.

Despite the criticism, INS Vikramaditya will provide the Indian Navy with a significant platform to project military power to every corner of the world’s oceans. The country, thereby, enters a currently very exclusive club of operators of aircraft carriers that do not rely on STOVL (Short Take Off, Vertical Landing) aircraft.

This week, the UK’s last Harrier STOVL aircraft was launched from HMS Ark Royal and the country will not receive its new aircraft carrier, planned to accommodate F-35C joint strike fighters, in the near future. Furthermore, France repeatedly experiences technical difficulties with its carrier, the Charles de Gaulle. In addition to the operator of the world’s largest fleet of aircraft carriers for conventional fighter aircraft, the United States, there only remains Brazil (NAe São Paulo) and Thailand (HTMS Chakri Naruebet).

Daniel Goure of the Lexington Institute recently said about the US carriers: “There is no more strategically agile, operationally responsive and tactically flexible platform than the aircraft carrier”. Although India is far from reaching the United States’ level of capabilities provided by its numerous aircraft carriers, the long waiting time for the INS Vikramaditya may eventually pay off from a security-political point of view. However, it remains questionable, if it was worth to spend this much money and if alternatives should have been seriously considered at an earlier point in time.

In a year, India will have nuclear triad: Navy chief

NEW DELHI: Only three countries, US, Russia and China, can be said to have fully-operational nuclear weapon triads -- the capability to fire nuclear-tipped missiles from land, air and sea. India will gatecrash into this highly-exclusive club by 2012.

Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma, not given to making dramatic statements, said the triad will be complete once its crucial underwater leg, the country's first indigenous nuclear submarine aptly named INS Arihant or the "destroyer of enemies", is commissioned towards late-2011 or early-2012.

The land and air legs are already in place with the Agni family of road and rail-mobile ballistic missiles as well as fighter jets like Mirage-2000s and Sukhoi-30MKIs jury-rigged to deliver nuclear weapons.

"When INS Arihant goes to sea, it will be on a deterrent patrol (read armed with nucelar-tipped missiles). The triad will then be in place... the aim is to make it as effective as possible," Admiral Verma said on Thursday, in the run-up to Navy Day on December 4.

This comes barely a day after Wikileaks revealed that American and European diplomats were greatly alarmed about Pakistan's feverish production of nuclear weapons. Estimates show Pakistan already has around 70 to 90 warheads, higher than India's 60 to 80. China, of course, is way ahead with around 240 warheads.

While Pakistan is nowhere near getting a nuclear submarine, China has 10 of them in its 62-submarine fleet, with three of them being SSBNs (armed with long-range strategic missiles). India, in contrast, has just 15 conventional and ageing diesel-electric submarines.

Consequently, INS Arihant is crucial to India's nuclear deterrence doctrine, which revolves around a clear "no-first use" policy. A robust and survivable second-strike capability is hugely dependent on having nuclear-powered submarines, armed with SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles), which can operate silently underwater for several months at a time.

Admiral Verma said INS Arihant, which was "launched" at Vizag in July 2009, would have potent SLBM capabilities to complete the triad. With INS Arihant's miniature 83 mw pressurised light-water reactor slated to go "critical" within a month or two for sea-acceptance trials, Navy also seems quite confident about ongoing undersea tests of the 700-km K-15 and 3,500-km K-4 SLBMs.

The 6,000-tonne INS Arihant, which has four silos on its hump to carry 12 K-15s or four extended range K-4s, is to be followed by another two nuclear submarines under the secretive Rs 30,000 crore Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project.

Navy, on its part, wants to have three SSBNs and six SSNs (nuclear-powered attack submarines) in the years ahead. The force will also finally induct the K-152 Nerpa submarine, on a 10-year lease from Russia, towards April-May 2011 after several delays.

While the 12,000-tonne Nerpa will not come armed with long-range missiles due to international treaties, it will help train Indian sailors in the complex art of operating nuclear submarines. It will also be a lethal hunter of enemy submarines and warships, armed with torpedoes and 300-km Klub-S cruise missiles.

'INS Arihant' to sail on deterrent patrol after commissioning

India's first ballistic missile submarine the INS Arihant will go on "deterrent patrol" or sail with a full complement of nuclear-tipped missiles when she is commissioned in 2012. "The nuclear triad will be there when it is commissioned," navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma said at a press conference in New Delhi.

This is the first time a service chief has commented on the deployment of a nuclear weapon platform. Launched last year, the Arihant is the first of a series of five indigenously constructed ballistic missile submarines (SSBN). The Indian SSBN is meant to form the third and most survivable leg of a troika of land, air and sea-based platforms enunciated by the Indian nuclear doctrine. The submarines are being constructed at the high security Naval Dockyard Visakhapatnam. "We expect to have it going in two years, end 2011 or 2012," Admiral Verma said. "We are going with the float as far as things go," he said in an attempt to answer speculation that technical glitches with the submarine would delay its commissioning.

Deterrent patrol means a long and lonely vigil where the submarine sails submerged and undetectable for weeks on end with its load of nuclear weapons. It is meant to 'deter' an adversary from launching a first strike on the nation. Only four nations-the US, Russia, France and UK have SSBNs sailing on deterrent patrols. China has two SSBNs and is building three more but its submarines have never sailed on deterrent patrols.

Admiral Verma's predecessor was the first to confirm the existence of the highly classified Advanced Technology vessel (ATV) project two years back. Security analysts however believe that the navy chief's estimates of induction could be optimistic. The Arihant is yet to begin her sea trials or even fire up her nuclear reactor. Missile tests will follow after the submarine completes her sea trials which could take up to a year. Two nuclear-tipped missiles are being developed for the Arihant class. A 700-km submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) called the K-15 or the B-05 has been tested eight times and is in serial production. A 3500 km SLBM, the K-4 has been tested once and will be fielded by around 2017. A second test of the K-4 is expected in the next two months.

Even the project cost escalated beyond the total Rs.20,000 crore as was initially agreed between the Indian defence ministry and the French company DCNS, which is fabricating the submarines.

In any naval war, submarines are believed to game-changers. And if armed with nuclear-tipped missiles, the vessel can be the most effective deterrent in present times.

The US and Russia plan to retain over 60 percent of their nuclear weapons in the shape of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) fitted on nuclear-powered submarines.

Though India does not have nuclear submarines or SLBM capabilities at present, it hopes to move forward by inducting the Akula-II class attack submarine K-152 Nerpa on a 10-year lease from Russia.

The 8,140-tonne submarine was to be delivered to the Indian Navy by December. But that is unlikely to happen now as the hand-over of the submarine got delayed and it would come only in 2011.

After delays, Scorpene submarine now on track: Navy chief

New Delhi: Admitting there was a downward trend in its submarine programme, Indian Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma on Thursday said the gap would be covered when the nation gets six highly advanced French Scorpene vessels being built at a Mumbai shipyard.

'There was a downward trend because of the gap that took place. For 17 years, we didn't commission any indigenous submarine. That is why this gap took place,' Verma told reporters ahead of Navy Day to be celebrated Saturday.

But he said the loopholes would be plugged when the Mazgaon Dock Ltd in Mumbai completes the ongoing Project-75 for six French Scorpene submarines that has already suffered almost a three-year delay.

'I think the Scorpene programme is on track. Yes there was some delay at some point of time. Now we are working to get Project-75, which will help us cover the gap,' he said.

The Indian Navy is facing a grave shortage of submarines. In another five-six years, more than half of its present fleet of 15 ageing diesel-electric submarines - 10 Russian Kilo-class, four German HDW and one Foxtrot - will become obsolete.

According to Project-75, the vessels were to roll out one per year from 2012 onwards. But that won't happen and the navy now hopes that first submarine will sail in 2015.

Hiccups in Indigenous Aircraft Carrier project: Navy Chief

New Delhi: Admitting ''hiccups'' in India's Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) project, Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma today said the 40,000-tonne warship could not be launched this year because of delays in supply of equipment, but it would be ready for sea trials by 2014.

"The IAC was to be launched this year and because of some indigenous equipment that could not be supplied on time the launch has been delayed. We are expecting it (launch) by the middle of next year, as things stand," he said at the annual press conference ahead of Navy Day on December 4.

"But at the same time, efforts are on to compress the time frames by ensuring that the amount of outfitting on the warship is much more than earlier envisaged, so we cut down on time. We expect to put it out at sea by 2014," he said.

The Navy Chief said since India was building an aircraft carrier for the first time, a lot of trial and error took place during construction."We should graduate to sea trial stage where one can say ...the target is 2014," he added.

On the Navy's future acquisition and capability enhancement programmes, Verma said there were 36 ships and submarines on order in various Indian shipyards and that these programmes were largely on track.

Among the major projects were the IAC in Kochi and the refurbishment of INS Vikramaditya (erstwhile Russian Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier), both of which were "progressing satisfactorily and going well."

"Vikramaditya's induction has been delayed due to increase in the scope of work, which consequently led to unavoidable upward revision in price. But, there has been progress in the past few months. All efforts are being made to ensure 'Vikramaditya' will be delivered to us by December 2012," he added.

Verma pointed out that India's first stealth frigate INS Shivalik had been commissioned and two more ships of this class would be commissioned soon."Other projects in pipeline are Kolkata class destroyers, four advanced anti-submarine Corvettes and six Scorpene class submarines, four modern fast patrol vessels and a sail training ship are at various stages of construction," he added.

In the Shivalik class, MDL will be delivering the second ship in the line to the Navy in a few months from now.He said orders for five Offshore Patrol Vessels and two cadet training ships had been placed at private shipyards.

"We had smaller ships being constructed, but in terms of size, this is a first as far as Indian Navy is concerned (to be built at a private yard) and we have told them to deliver on time and within costs," he noted.

Despite Scorpene delay, DCNS looks for more projects

French defence major wants to be part of six submarines to be built under P75I

Even as the Scorpene submarine project, which France cites as a unique example of its successful collaboration with India, is behind schedule, Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN) Shipyard hopes to take part in the future programmes of the Indian Navy.

Project 75 to build six Scorpene submarines by the Mazagoan Docks Limited, along with the DCNS, got the go-ahead in 2005.

The project also provides for transfer of technology. But the schedule for the delivery of the first submarine was pushed back by nearly three years, from December 2012.

The DCNS' bid assumes significance with President Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to India.

Though no agreements for the purchase of defence items, including the upgrade of Mirage 2000, is on the cards, the number of business leaders who accompany Mr. Sarkozy, including defence industry representatives, highlights one of the focus areas of France.

One of the reasons for the delay in the Scorpene project is that besides being huge, it is a complex as well as challenging programme. “This programme is challenging both for the competence and industrial means involved… technical… integration of large teams of personnel from different countries… we faced teething problems,” Bernard Buisson, Chief of DCNS-India, told The Hindu.

Earlier this week, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma said that as per the revised schedule, the first submarine was expected to be with the Navy by 2015, and the last by 2018.

The MDL plans to cut the time lag in building the subsequent submarines from 12 to 9 months to make up for the delay. Mr. Buisson said the MDL were done with the work on the hulls of the first and second submarines; the hulls for the third and fourth were being built. The frame to receive the hulls for the fifth and six submarines was being made.

The outfitting work was also progressing, and the work on the combat system equipment for the first submarine would be completed this year.
Technology transfer

Besides transferring the technical data package, DCNS was working with the MDL to establish a group of suppliers for indigenisation of P75. It also hoped to be part of the next line of six submarines to be built under P75I, which the government cleared this year. While two will be built at overseas yards, three will be made in India. Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), which was handed over to the Defence Ministry this year, will build one, entering a new area, as thus far it has been only into repairing submarines.

The DCNS hopes to get a look-in, having responded to the Request for Information. Sources in the Navy said the Request for Proposal could be ready by the next few months.

Navy Submarines Deal - Rosoboronexport Offers Amur-1650 Class Submarines

The Indian Navy, which is planning to acquire six non-nuclear submarines in a deal expected to be in the range of USD 10-12 billion, has been offer the fourth generation Amur-1650 class submarines by Russia। The proposal from Russia may include transfer-of-technology and localized production in Indian shipyards.

Facing mounting challenges posed by the modernization of Chinese and Pakistani naval capabilities, the Indian Navy is keen to boost up its undersea warfare capability.

* Project 751, Indian Navy proposes an undersea force of 24 submarines by 2015. India already has 10 Kilo-class submarines and has set up a line to manufacture French Scorpene Submarines at Mazagoan docks in Mumbai, the first of these submarines are expected to roll out by 2012.
* Rosoboronexport said it would bid for the tender by offering the Amur class submarines, which are an upgraded version of Indian Navy's Kilo-class submarines.
* With the speed of 20 knots, the Amur is designed for both anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare. Its armaments include 16 tube launched torpedoes and also has a capability of launching cruise missiles.
* Rosoboronexport officials were quoted by ITAR-TASS as saying that the submarine could be fitted with AIP fuel cells to considerably improve its submergence endurance and range. "The company will surely take part in the tender, and it will bid with its Amur 1650 non-nuclear submarine," an official said.
* The Amur 1650 submarine has been developed by the Rubin Central Design Bureau of Naval Technology on the basis of the Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines, the most low-noise submarines in the world. The sonar signature level of the submarines of this class is several times lower in comparison with Kilo-class submarines. These submarines are equipped with radio-electronic weapons of the newer generation created on the basis of the latest achievements in the field of radio-electronics.
* The submarine is equipped with 6 torpedo tubes and can take a crew of 35 people. Its depth of submergence is 300 metres, and its endurance is 45 days.
* The Indian Navy has already sent requests for technical specifications to a number of countries including Russia, Germany, Spain and France who have already shown interest in the deal.

India unhappy as Russia may miss N-sub targe

India’s quest to operate a nuclear submarine for its strategic needs has met with yet another hurdle. The much-awaited Akula-II class, 8,140 tonne Nerpa attack submarine from Russia, will not meet its year-end schedule of delivery to the Indian Navy.

Sources said the Navy, as of now, has refused to accept the submarine from its Russian counterparts citing inadequate training for its teams to operate the vessel. The submarine is to be leased by Russia for 10 years under a $650-million pact signed in January 2004.

The Indian naval teams do not have enough under-sea operating experience on board the nuclear-powered Nerpa, hence the Russians have been told to provide more hours of training, sources confirmed to The Tribune. The training of the Navy teams has been going on for the past one year but the top brass is “not satisfied” with the operational ability that has been acquired so far. This training will take some five months to complete, which means a new delivery deadline of March 2011 has been fixed.

This is the third such shift in the deadline for the delivery of the vessel. The Nerpa was initially slated for lease to India in mid-2008. An accident on board the undertrial submarine in the Sea of Japan killed 20 Russian sailors. After a $65 million re-fit later, the delivery was rescheduled for June this year. The Indo-Russian group on military technical cooperation met in July this year. The Russians promised that the submarine would be handed over to India by the end of this year.

The operation of a nuclear submarine is different from a conventional submarine. Indian Navy last operated one some 19 years ago in 1991. Since, the officers who operated it have long retired taking with them the “institutional memory”. Since 1991, the ability of Russia, carved out of the erstwhile USSR, diminished to build world class vessels for itself. India did not have tie-ups with other countries. The one with France to build six diesel-electric powered submarines, the scorpene, was signed only a few years ago.

The Nerpa is vital as it will bridge the operational gap between now and the commissioning of the indigenously built nuclear-sub, the INS Arihant, which will join the fleet in 2012. The Arihant will have two more follow-on nuclear-subs and the three in total will cost India Rs 33,000 crore.

Technically, the Nerpa at 110-metre length is considered the quietest and deadliest of all Russian nuclear-powered submarines. The Amur Shipyard located in the Russian far-east has further reduced its acoustic noises. Unlike its diesel-electric powered cousins, the Nerpa, being N-powered, does not have to surface to “breathe”. It can remain under water for 100 days while conventional subs surface every few days to take in air.