An Alpha Defense Analysis
Very recently European defense firm MBDA was awarded a 500 million Euro contract to supply the CAMM ( Common Anti-air Modular missile) Sea Ceptor and upgrade the Sea Viper Command and Control system for the UK Royal Navy’s Type 45 Destroyer. Fitment of CAMM onto type 45 will result in a 50% increase in the destroyer’s air defence missiles. The installation is said to be of 24 additional VLS modules of CAMM thereby enabling the existing 48 cells to be reserved for the Aster-30 which has relatively longer range. This upgrade indicates a significant rise in firepower for the destroyer. With the arrival of this news, some of us started wondering whether the same principle is applicable to INS Kolkata. This article aims to explore such a possibility as pragmatically as possible.
What is similar between INS Kolkata and Type 45?
Whenever one tries to make a comparison between two warships, it is highly important that both of them are of same category. This means similar values of displacement, similar values of major dimensions, as much convergences in the installed propulsion, overall layout and similarities in armaments and weapons payload. The following tables and figures highlight the similarities.
|Particular||INS Kolkata||Type 45|
|Block Coefficient (CB)||0.39||0.34|
The overall particulars indicate that INS Kolkata has relatively less beam with respect to Type 45 although its length is higher. Slenderness wise, INS Kolkata is relatively more than Type 45. When it comes to VLS systems, deck space is the deciding factor. A comparative study of the ship profile and a rough prediction of the deck arrangement will serve vital to arriving at a realistic conclusion. Before that let us look at the existing missile systems on both these warships.
|Missiles||INS Kolkata||Range||Type 45||Range|
|Anti-air||32 cell Barak-8 VLS||0.5 km to 90 km||48 cell (mix of Aster-15 and Aster-30)||1.7 km – 120 km|
|Anti-ship||16 cell Brahmos VLS||500 km+ ; Mach 3 supersonic||8 Harpoons||280 km;subsonic|
|2 Sea Eagle (1 x Sea King)||100 km||4 Sea Venom (1 x Wildcat HMA2; 2022 onwards)||20 km; subsonic|
|20 Martlet SSM(1 x Wildcat HMA2; 2021 onwards)||8 km; Mach 1.5|
|Naval Gun||1 x 76 mm Oto Melara SRGM||16 km to 40 km (based on round)||1 x BAE 4. in Mark 8||27.5 km|
|Close range Defence||4 x AK-630 CIWS||4 km||2 x Phalanx CIWS||3.6 km|
|2 x Oerlikon 30 mm guns||3.5 km to 5 km|
|Anti-submarine||4 x Mark 46 Torpedo||11 km; 40 knot||2 x Sting Ray torpedo ( 1 x Wildcat HMA2)||11 km; 45 knot|
|4 x Whitehead A244S Torpedo||13.5 km; 30-39 knot||4 x Sting Ray torpedo (1 x Merlin HM2)||11 km; 45 knot|
|4 x Mk 11 Depth Charges||4 x Mk 11 Depth charges|
|2 x Twin 533 mm Torpedo launchers||2 x Twin Torpedo launchers|
|2 x RBU-6000 anti-sub rockets||5.5 km|
One can observe that the payload configuration of INS Kolkata has a preference to long range anti-ship missile given the significant advantage Brahmos offers whereas Type 45 has focussed more on anti-air Aster missiles. The option of using a Wildcat HMA2 instead of Merlin HM2 does give it a helo based anti ship capability but that would be at the expense of having minimal anti-submarine capability. Similar can be said about Sea Kings on INS Kolkata. Hence INS Kolkata and Type 45 provide a large flexibility of choosing the loadout based on the mission requirement.
Challenges for VL-SRSAM on INS Kolkata
Considering the above inferences, addition of Sea Ceptor CAMM on Type 45 will enhance it’s close range (upto 25 km) anti-air capabilities. VL-SRSAM based on Astra Mark 1 is planned for service in the Indian Navy by 2022 as a replacement to the Barak-1 PDS. VL-SRSAM has operational range of 20 km to 25 km. Clearly from a role perspective, it will provide INS Kolkata close range anti-air capability. However many question arises:
- Adding a new system requires space. Does INS Kolkata have that space? If yes, how many can be added?
- If there is no space, which existing payload can be replaced and by what quantity?
- How much will the displacement, the draught, stability characteristics, seakeeping performance and propulsive requirement change in either of these cases?
The last question is a very technical topic and it shall be covered upon in depth on our English YouTube channel eventually. Coming to question 1, does INS Kolkata have space?. Well it is known now that MBDA will be adding the Sea Ceptor CAMM missile VLS right in front of the 48 cell VLS of Asters.
Sea Ceptor on Type 45
This turret chamber of the gun is roughly denoted by the Yellow paint on the deck. However notice that there is sufficient space for a 24 cell VLS of Sea Ceptor due to the less space occupied by the naval gun.
Now let us try doing a similar analysis on INS Kolkata.
VL-SRSAM on INS Kolkata
The Oto Melara SRGM used on INS Kolkata is also one such gun that occupies less space somewhat like the BAE 4 in Mark 8.
And hence, from the below shown bird’s eye view of INS Kolkata, it can be reasonably said with some level of confidence that there seems to be extra space for VL-SRSAM. Astra Mk1 has almost similar length and diameter as CAMM. Hence the space needed for Astra VL-SRSAM will be more or less same as that needed by Sea Ceptor.
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