Indian Navy’s fifth Scorpene submarine ‘Vagir’, was launched on 12 November 2020 at the Mazagon Dock. However, the star of the show was the INS Vishakhapatnam in the background. As can be seen, the construction work for the 7000T behemoth is almost complete.
The Visakhapatnam class of guided-missile destroyers developed under project P-15B are an improved variant of Kolkata class destroyers. These ships with a displacement of 7,500 tonnes will retain the basic design of Kolkata-class destroyers. However, they will incorporate enhanced stealth characteristics.
The Indian navy will get four ships of this class of which the hull of three are already launched. The first ship of the class is INS Vishakhapatnam, the keel of Visakhapatnam was laid down on 12 October 2013 and she was launched on 20 April 2015 at Mazagon Dock Limited of Mumbai.
Other Ships of this class are
|Name of the ship||Laid down date||Launch date||Status|
|INS Visakhapatnam||12 Oct 2013||20 April 2015||Launched|
|INS Mormugao||4 June 2015||15 Sept 2016||Launched|
|INS Imphal||19 May 2017||20 April 2019||Launched|
|INS Porbandar||19 July 2018||Under Construction|
The launch of the Scorpene class of submarines has always been a good way to track the progress of the INS Vishakhapatnam.
Launch of INS Vishakhapatnam – 20 April 2015
Launch of INS Kalvari- 27 October 2015
In six months, the bridge area, main mast structure, and flag bridge were almost ready.
Launch of INS Khanderi – 12 January 2017
The smoke funnels and mast for the secondary radar can be seen:
Launch of INS Karanj – 31 January 2018
Superstructure and main mast look complete. However, no electronics.
Launch of INS Vela – 6 May 2019
No significant change can be seen from this angle.
Launch of INS Vagir – 12 November 2020
The appearance of the ship surprised those who were tracking the progress of the ship. Though the view in the previous photograph was blocked by the submarines but the progress on the ship looks significant.
- Main Radar – Installed
- Anti-Submarine Rockets – RBU 6000 Installed
- 2 × 16-cell VLS for Barak 8 – Installed
- 2 x 8-cells UVLM for 16 BrahMos anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles – Installed
However, the major disappointment was the OTO Melara 76 mm gun which is a naval gun built and designed by the Italian defense company Oto Melara instead of the much anticipated BAE 5 inch 62-caliber Mk 45 naval gun.
Those who are tracking this ship from initial days would have observed the below photograph that surfaced before the launch of INS Khanderi in 2017. As it can be seen in the photograph the naval artillery piece was already installed.
Propulsion of the Ship:
The ship will be powered by combined gas and gas system: Twin Zorya M36E gas turbine plants with 4 × DT-59 reversible gas turbines and 2 × RG-54 gearboxes
A combined gas turbine and gas turbine (COGAG) is a type of propulsion system for ships using two gas turbines connected to a single propeller shaft. A gearbox and clutches allow either of the turbines to drive the shaft or both combined. When the power requirement is higher both the engines drive the shaft whereas if the power required is less one engine can power the ship.
The advantage of having two different power settings makes the ship more efficient. Since the fuel efficiency of a gas turbine is best near its maximum power level, a small gas turbine running at its full power is more efficient compared to a twice as powerful turbine running at half power, allowing more-economical transit at cruise speeds.
- 2 × Bergen/GRSE KVM-diesel engines, 9,900 hp (7,400 kW) each
- 4 × 1 MW Wärtsilä WCM-1000 generator sets driving Cummins KTA50G3 engines and Kirloskar 1 MV AC generators
Sensors and Electronics of the Ship:
Equipped with next-generation bow-mounted sonar BEL HUMSA-NG, this ship will feature IAI EL/M-2248 MF-STAR S-band AESA radar.
The EL/M-2248 MF-STAR is a multi-function all-solid-state next-generation Active electronically scanned array radar (AESA) developed specifically for new generation of naval platforms. Typically, radars rotate to secure a 360-degree view, but this radar system is made up of 4 active arrays operating in the S-band, each of the 4 arrays is positioned in one direction covering the entire 360 view.
The radar uses a multi-beam that allows it to search and track simultaneously. It employs pulse Doppler techniques as-well-as a vigorous Electronic counter-countermeasures technique to extract low radar cross-section targets from complex clutter and jamming environments.
Specifications of EL/M-2248 MF-STAR:
Country of Origin Israel
Frequency of Operation S Band
Range – Automatic track (Aircraft – High Altitude) 450 KM +
Range – Sea Skimming Targets 25 KM +
Coverage 360 degree
Electronic warfare Capabilities: The Vishakhapatnam class of stealth destroyers will inherit not only the MF star from Kolkata class guided-missile destroyers but will also get the electronic warfare capabilities. The destroyer will carry the ELLORA MK I Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system which is a part of the integrated electronic warfare suite developed indigenously by BEL and called the Ajanta MK2 electronic warfare (EW) suite. It is a development by the Defence Electronics Research Laboratory (DLRL).
Ajanta EW Suite
Ellora ECM Jammer Antenna Close-up
The ship will be equipped with indigenous “Kavach” decoy control & launching system that will respond to multiple aerial threats from any directions by launching a salvo of fast manoeuvring decoy rocket launchers at accurate time intervals.
Kavach system has chaff rockets of three different versions:
- Long Range: 12 km (7.5 mi)
- Medium Range: 5 km (3.1 mi)
- Short Range: 1 km (0.62 mi)
The system releases chaffs made up of silver coated glass fiber with a specific type of radar signature to deceive the incoming guided missiles.
Kavach decoy rocket onboard INS Chennai
Fire Power: The current powerpack of the guided missile destroyer is as follow:
- 4 × 8-cell VLS, for a total of 32 Barak 8 missiles
- 2 × 8-cell UVLM for 16 BrahMos missiles
- 1 × 76 mm gun Oto Melara SRGM
- 4 × AK-630 CIWS
- 4 × 533 mm Torpedo tubes
- 2 × RBU-6000 anti-submarine rocket launchers
However, after the development of the work in progress weapon systems, the stealth destroyer may carry additional;
- 4 X 8 Cell VLS for 32 VL Astra
- 1 X 8 Cell UVLM for 8 Nirbhay long range cruise missile.
- Gun may get replaced with 1 × BAE 5 inch 62-calibre Mk 45 naval gun
The Vishakhapatnam class and Kolkata look very identical, with Oto gun the visual difference is further reduced, however both the ships are quite different. The differences are following
- Though the current version is equipped with the 76 MM gun, but the next ships of the class will be armed with a 127 mm main gun.
- The sonar (BEL HUMSA-NG) will be relocated from hull of the ship to the bow.
- A heavily modified bridge layout and optimised mast design to reduce radar cross-section.
- A rail-less helicopter traversing system to secure the helicopter.
- A network-centric layout with a Ship Data Network (SDN).
- An Automatic Power Management System (APMS)
- An improved Combat Management System (CMS)
Overall, the ship is a fire packed machine ready to wreck carnage on enemy. Though the progress is slow but appears the ship is now nearing completion.