After nearly two decades, the first Indian submarine Kalvari is to be commissioned in the Navy on December 14.
The first of the six Scorpene class submarines â€“ to be named INS Kalvari is scheduled to be commissioned at Mazgaon dock, Mumbai. Prime Minister Narendra Modi would most probably be present at the commissioning, sources said.
The last conventional submarine commissioned in the Indian Navy was the Russian origin (EKM class) INS Sindhurashtra that was inducted in July 2000. Indian Navy currently operates 13 old diesel-electric submarines and one nuclear-powered boat.
In the 1980s and 1990s, there was regular induction of Russian and German submarines, but a two-decade-long hiatus crippled Indian Navy’s underwater fighting abilities.
Way back in 1999, the Indian Navy planned to acquire 24 diesel electric submarines over the next 30 years.
The plan was modified twice later to incorporate nuclear-powered submarines and the deadlines were modified.
The targets set up in the 2008-22 indigenisation plan is way off the mark as Indian Navy currently operates 13 diesel electric and two nuclear-powered boats. Because of the delay, Navy has undertaken costly refit programmes to extend the life of the existing fleet.
To make up for the missing numbers, the government approved the Rs 18,798 crore Scorpene project to construct six conventional submarines in collaboration with France. The project is running four years behind schedule.
In September 2017, Mazgaon dock handed over the first Scorpene class submarine Kalvari (meaning tiger shark) to the Navy after successfully completing sea trial. The second one, Khanderi, was released in the sea for trial in January 2017 and is likely to be commissioned in the first quarter of 2018, while the third, Karanj, would be launched in water in December 2017, sources said.
All the six submarines are to be inducted by 2019-20.
The defence ministry has floated a second tender proposal to construct another six submarines with foreign collaboration. Four vendors are known to have responded to the Indian proposal, but the government is yet to take a decision.
Meanwhile, China’s submarine fleet has swollen to 63 and is likely to grow to 69-78 underwater boats by 2020, according to a report prepared by the US Department of Defence