From a game-changing missile-firing drone to an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), key new weapons this year will give India more military muscle, and generate fresh options for the politico-military leadership to address threats. SP's Naval Forces takes a sneak peek.
The second of India's indigenously-developed and produced ballistic missile firing nuclear-powered submarines, Arighat will join the nuclear deterrence fleet. It will join the Arihant in beefing up the third leg of India's Nuclear Triad, lending more strength and credibility to India's nuclear deterrence posture. The underwater leg of the Triad, regarded as the most survivable in the event of a decapitating attack by an adversary, is critical for India in view of its nuclear weapons doctrine of ‘No First Use’. The Arihant Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear (SSBN) series of submarines are weapons of global significance. India is the only country outside the P5 which has this capability.
Khanderi and Karanj
The second and third of the six Scorpene attack submarines being built at Mazagon Docks, Mumbai, under Project 75 will be ready for naval service this year.
Christened the Kalvari class after the first Indian-made Scorpene submarine, these will make up the desperately required numbers for Indian conventional submarine fleet, and also modernise the Indian Navy's underwater arm.
Akula class N-submarine
India and Russia are expected to sign the lease of the second Akula class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN). The first, christened INS Chakra, was leased to India for 10 years, and commissioned into the Indian Navy in April 2012.
Although this 8,140-tonne submarine is not nuclear-armed, its long endurance and high speed gives India a huge advantage and 'long legs' in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). It's an effective sea denial weapon, and the lease of the second submarine would ensure that one of these highly valued assets is always operationally available.
Guardian armed drones
The US has offered at least 22 weaponised Guardian drones to India. The earlier approval was for the sale of 22 unarmed MQ-9B version of General Atomic's Guardian surveillance drone for the Indian Navy for an estimated $ 2 Billion. Subsequently, the armed version is on the plate. The Indian Navy has reportedly taken the position that the cost does not justify buying an unarmed drone. Revised numbers are said to be under discussion.
This is being pursued along the Government-to-Government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route. Its co-option of India under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) has enabled the sale of long endurance and armed drones to India.
MH-60 R Naval Helicopters
As a consequence of an urgent operational requirement for the Indian Navy, a $2 billion government-to-government deal for 24 MH-60 R Seahawk multi-role helicopters is expected to be signed with the US before March 31, 2019.
The MH-60 ‘Romeo’ Seahawk, manufactured by Lockheed Martin and its Sikorsky unit, is a proven platform for anti-submarine warfare. A quick deal is reported to be in the works, as the Indian Navy wants the first lot of these helicopters to be delivered this year. The Navy is also pushing, under a separate ‘Make in India’ process, the acquisition of 123 multi-role helicopters.