INS Kiltan- Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) becomes another warship to be commissioned in the eastern Naval Command earlier this week. A line of stealth corvettes are being inducted in the Indian Navy but most of them are lacking attacking capabilities required to detect enemy vessels.
China’s leverage in the Indian Ocean is one of the reasons behind the launch of stealth corvettes, with the motive to give a boost to India’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities.
Active Towed Array Sonar (ACTAS) is an important system for the submarines and about six low-frequency ACTAS are yet to be taken into use by the Navy from German firm Atlas Elektronik.
“ACTAS is still a distance away. We are hoping for Nagin, a similar system which is under development by the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization),” said an official. The sources have informed that the Navy is using bow mounted sonar or hull mounted sonar for the ships which has minimal effectiveness.
A senior defence officer questions “What is the point of commissioning warships which are not ‘battle ready.” INS Kamorta, another anti-submarine warfare corvette, without its offensive powers, is still moving beneath water since it was inducted into the force in August 2014.
Similarly, Kalveri class (popularly known as Scorpene submarines) was commissioned into the Navy without Torpedo, which is a self-propelled underwater missile and is a very important weapon for a submarine. There are six Scorpene submarines, which are under construction by state-owned Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd in collaboration with French firm DCNS. Though these vessels have already been delayed but the Navy hopelessly needs these torpedoes to be installed in them.
Whereas, the towed array sonar could be a better observer in the sea with ranges much above 60 km, with respect to underwater conditions. This operational range of sonar makes it useful for the reconnaissance of surface combats, covering a wide area. Having an upper hand over radars and the weapons range of submarines, sonar is also suitable for hunting submarines.
The contract to design Black Shark torpedoes for the efficiency of submarines was cancelled after the Modi government put a ban on signing the contracts in the wake of the probe into the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter scam.
China has a strength of 65 submarines. On the other hand, the Indian Navy has seen a decline in the submarines, since 1980s. From 21 submarines, now the total remains at 13 conventional submarines with one homemade Arihant-class nuclear submarine and one Russian Akula-class submarine operating on lease which is not a good sign.
The country had also cancelled its contract of buying 98 Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes earlier this year. The estimated cost of the deal was 200 million USD.
Submarines are close to being “toothless” in absence of the heavyweight torpedoes, as claimed by a Navy official. INS Khanderi, which is the next Kalveri class submarine, is to be inducted in the Navy within four weeks.