NEW DELHI --- India's Scorpene-class advanced attack submarine project has faced another setback with the second completed submarine also facing delays in sea trials.
The INS Khanderi is the second of the six submarines being locally built following the transfer of technology from French firm Naval Group (earlier DCNS). It was launched in January and was expected to be inducted into the Indian Navy by the end of this year, but hurdles in sea trials have made this highly unlikely. The induction of the first INS-Kalvari submarine has already faced several delays.
The Indian Navy recently announced a further delay in commissioning the first vessel, the INS Kalvari. “The Kalvari submarine has already been in the sea for some time now. Some 110 days of sea trials have been completed and more pre-commissioning sea trials are going on. We are expecting it to be commissioned by November-December this year,” Vice Admiral Girish Luthra said.
Mazgaon Dock Ltd (MDL) delivered the first vessel to the Indian Navy last month after it was put through a grueling set of trials lasting over 18 months, including successful live missile and torpedo firings.
Meanwhile, the second Scorpene-class submarine, the INS-Khanderi, has begun sea trials in the Arabian Sea following the end of the monsoon. The diesel-electric attack submarine was planned for induction by the end of this year. However, sources say trials would continue for at least until the first quarter of next year. The Khanderi had begun its first sea sorties from the port of Mumbai in June this year.
India’s state-owned Mazgaon Dock Ltd is building six Scorpene-class submarines for the Indian Navy at cost of more than $4 billion under the technology transfer agreement with French firm Naval Group. India and France signed the agreement for the project in 2005.
The six submarines will be capable of firing the French-made Exocet SM39, a sea-skimming, subsonic anti-ship missile with an approximate operational range of 50-70 kilometers. The Kalvari is equipped with six 533-millimeter torpedo tubes for launching anti-ship torpedoes, anti-ship missiles, and sea mines.
However, the first two submarines, the Kalvari and the Khanderi, have yet to be equipped with their primary weapons: heavyweight torpedoes. The Indian government had to cancel an order of WASS Black Shark torpedoes due to alleged corruption in the deal.
The Indian Navy presently commands a fleet of 121 ships, 14 submarines, and 232 aircraft. The actual requirement is far higher, with a target of 198 ships and submarines by the year 2027.