The INS Sindhurakshak submarine came off the slips at the Zvezdochka shipyard in Severodvinsk on Saturday, marking the completion of a mid-life refit programme for the Indian Navy’s Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines in Russia.
During a two-year in-depth modernisation the torpedo-firing INS Sindhurakshak, built in 1997, has been equipped with the tube-launched Club-S cruise missiles effective against surface vessels and submarines at a range of about 200 km. It has also been provided with some Indian-made systems, including a hydro-acoustic "USHUS" complex, a CCS-MK radio-communication system and Porpoise Electronic Support Measures. After going through sea trials and firing tests the submarine will be handed over to the Indian Navy later this year.
The INS Sindhurakshak is the seventh and the last of the 10 Kilo-class submarines that India bought from Russia between 1986 and 2000 to have undergone mid-term repairs and modernisation in Russia. Of the remaining three submarines one was repaired in India and the two others are currently under repair in India.
Even as Russia prepares to deliver the last retrofitted submarine to India, Russia’s top shipbuilding official has come up with the idea of a second mid-life repair of the Indian Navy’s Kilo-class submarines.
“A second repair will add another 5 to 7 or even 10 years to the submarines’ scheduled 20-year service life,” said Andrei Dyachkov, Director General of Sevmash shipyard, who is expected to take over as the head of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, which controls 70 per cent of Russia’s s shipbuilding assets, next month. “This will help the Indian Navy maintain its submarine strength in view of delays in the induction of French-built Scorpene subs and in floating a tender for six more diesel-electric submarines,” he said.
The Indian Navy issued Request For Information (RFIs) under the P-75 (I) project way back in 2008. However, it is yet to open a global tender for the submarines. Russia is expected to take part in the tender with its new Amur-1650 submarines, along with France’s Scorpio, Germany’s Type-214 and Spain’s S-80 submarines.
Mr. Dyachkov, who also heads the Rubin Naval Design Bureau, which designed the Amur-1650, thinks the Russian submarine stands a good chance of winning the Indian tender.
“We hope for success and are confident of fulfilling all terms of the tender in the required timeframe,” he told The Hindu.
The Amur-1650 makes far less noise than the Kilo-class submarines, which the NATO nicknamed “Black Holes” for their stealth qualities.
The shipbuilder denied media reports that said Russia was trying to have the demand for the submarines to have onboard Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system removed from the tender requirements.
“We have designed and built an advanced and safe AIP that generates hydrogen onboard and enables the submarine to stay underwater for much longer time,” Mr. Dyachkov said.