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Indian Navy commissions first licence-built Scorpène-class submarine

14 December 2017
The Indian Navy commissioned INS , the first of six licence-built Scorpène-class submarines, on 14 December in Mumbai. Source: Indian Navy

The Indian Navy (IN) commissioned INS Kalvari , the first of six licence-built Scorpène-class diesel-electric attack submarines (SSKs), on 14 December during a ceremony held at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who presided over the event, said that the 67.6 m-long Project 75 submarine built by the Indian shipyard Mazagaon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) was “a fine example of the growing strategic partnership between India and France”.

Kalvari , which entered service over six years behind schedule, is the first SSK to be inducted into the IN in 17 years.

Construction of the boat began in December 2006 based on the modular method of welding five separate sections together. The submarine, which has a crew of 31, was launched almost a decade later in October 2015 and began sea trials in May 2016. Over the past 18 months the SSK successfully validated its “float, move, and fight capabilities”, according to a statement by India’s Press Information Bureau (PIB).

According to the PIB, the SSK is “capable of undertaking offensive operations spanning the entire spectrum of maritime warfare”.

Kalvari, which displaces 1,615 tonnes when surfaced and 1,775 tonnes when submerged, is equipped with Exocet SM39 sea-skimming anti-ship missiles and C303/S anti-torpedo countermeasure systems.

However, the boat was not commissioned with the originally planned Black Shark torpedoes, given that a deal to procure 98 of the torpedoes for all six Scorpène boats from Italy’s Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei (WASS) was scrapped in May 2016 following corruption allegations.

In the meantime, the boats have been integrated to fire the IN’s German-built SUT-series torpedoes until a new generation heavyweight torpedo is acquired.

To this end the IN is currently evaluating responses from foreign manufacturers to supply 150 heavyweight torpedoes for its Scorpène fleet.

In mid-August the Indian Ministry of Defence had issued a “restricted” request for information (RFI) for the torpedoes to France’s Naval Group (formerly DCNS); Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, Russia’s Rosoboronexport; and Sweden’s Saab.

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