FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
India's second Scorpene submarine: Projecting naval power in Indian Ocean
Posted:Feb 9, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
 by Neha Gupta
 
 
On January 12, 2017, India successfully launched Khanderi, its second Kalvari-class Scorpene submarine despite the flutter caused by the  leak of secret data on the capabilities of  these highly-advanced submarines being built for the Indian Navy in collaboration with French defence company DCNS. According to Indian Navy traditions, Khanderi has been named after her distinguished predecessor, a former 'Foxtrot' class submarine which was decommissioned in 1989 after two decades of service to the country. The submarine got its name Khanderi after the historical island fort of Maratha forces which played a fundamental role in ensuring their dominance at sea in the late 17th century.
 
Scorpene is a class of diesel-electric attack submarines which have been jointly developed by the French Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN) and the Spanish company Navantia, and now by DCNS. It features diesel propulsion and additional air-independent propulsion. As a state-of-the-art conventional submarine, with advanced stealth features, Scorpene  can undertake multifarious types of missions typically undertaken by any modern submarine, such as anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine laying, area surveillance and the like.
 
India is among the few countries in the world which produce conventional submarines. December 8, 1967, the day of the commissioning of its first submarine, INS Kalvari, is celebrated every year as the Submarine Day. In the last five decades, India has built and commissioned several submarines, viz; Shalki, Shankul, Sindhugosh, Sindhudhvaj, Sindhuraj, Sindhuvir, Sindhuratna, Sindhukesari, Sindhukirti, Sindhuvijay, Sindhushashtra, Shishumar, and Shankush. 
 
India has contracted six Scorpene submarines from DCNS of France to be built locally with technology transfer. As per the agreement, the state-owned Mazagon Docks in Mumbai was to construct the submarines, and deliver them between 2012 and 2016. However the project is running four years behind schedule and the Indian Navy now intends to induct all six by 2020. Khanderi, will undertake rigorous tests and trials in harbour and at sea, and on the surface and underwater to its fullest capacity before being commissioned. The submarine will begin sea trials in March and complete them by December. The commissioning of the Khanderi would be dependent on the monsoon as trials cannot be conducted during the three to five month period.
 
The modern characteristics of the Scorpene submarine encompass advanced stealth technology and the ability to launch crippling attack on the enemy using precision-guided weapons. Khanderi has been constructed using the "modular construction" method which means that its manufacturing was segregated in several divisions and the separate units were then installed together. This task involved placing kms upon kms of cables and pipes in enormously packed compartments. The most significant safety goal, called "vacuum testing", was completed in the very first attempt and on a single day. This success matched the record of the earlier Scorpene submarine, Kalvari, which also finished these tests in one go -- an achievement matchless in submarine building history. 
 
Beijing's emergence as a naval power has become a serious concern for the Indian Navy. This has so emerged after the appearance of an image on Google earth that highlighted a Chinese nuclear submarine docked in Karachi port in May 2016. “At least one Chinese submarine has been continuously deployed in the Indian Ocean while others are in movement to replace it,” according to Indian defence sources. Even though they just “pass through” making a statement of their capability and reach. Early this week Admiral Harry Harris, Chief of U.S. Pacific Command said there has been “sharing of information regarding Chinese maritime movement in the IOR” between India and the U.S.
 
The Indian Navy is anxious about Chinese submarines following the activities of Indian ships and submarines in the Indian Ocean. Adding to India's worries, Pakistan is believed to be in the process of purchasing eight Type 039A/Type 041 Yuan-class diesel-electric submarines from Beijing supplementing the already existing three French Agosta-90B/Khalid and two Agosta-70 submarines of the Pakistan Navy.
 
Most of India's conventional submarines are more than 20 years old and are reaching the end of their service life. Meanwhile, China, which has been speedily growing its Navy, has between 12 and 15 nuclear submarines of all types which have either been commissioned or are in an advanced stage of construction. Furthermore, China operates 56 conventionally-powered submarines, making it the second largest operator of submarines in the world. This has increased the unease of Indian authorities as China's capabilities are more than four times that of India. 
 
India, at present, operates 13 Russian- and German-designed diesel-electric submarines with the first of six new French-designed Scorpene-class submarines yet to come into service. The Indian Navy expects to induct two Scorpene diesel-electric submarines into service this year and launch a third submarine into water. The first of the Scorpenes, Kalvari, is expected to finish sea trials by May and is on track to be inducted before the monsoon. The aim is to commission the second submarine(Khanderi) this year. The third Scorpene submarine ‘Vela’ will be launched into water this year after the monsoons. Vela has already been ‘booted up’, which means all the sections have been assembled.
 
India has, planned to lease a second nuclear attack submarine from Russia and build six nuclear attack submarines in Visakhapatnam. Although they have planned to acquire submarines from different sources, the work is still at the pen-to-paper phase. India is speeding up to counter China by building conventional and nuclear submarines with German, French and Russian assistance.
 
The building of Khanderi is considered to be the beginning of a new chapter in India's submarine capabilities, even though, India is suffering from current and prospective defence budget constraints, many prominent strategic analysts argue. Lack of funds has a direct impact on the war-fighting orientations on the one hand and the ability to provide net security in the region on the other. This project has rekindled hopes about the defence security of India and its ability to assert power undersea. 
 
(Neha Gupta is a research scholar at Dibrugarh University. Comments and suggestions on this article can be sent to editor@spsindia.in)  
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assumed office again in Bangladesh in 2009, bilateral relations between New Delhi and Dhaka have been on a steady upward trajectory.
 
read-more
Desperate living conditions and waterborne diseases are threatening more than 320,000 Rohingya refugee children who have fled to southern Bangladesh since late August, including some 10,000 who crossed from Myanmar over the past few days, UNICEF said.
 
read-more
A unique and passionate gathering of acrophiles, or mountain lovers, took place in neat and picturesque Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram state in north-eastern India in September.
 
read-more
India’s foreign policy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attained a level of maturity which allows it to assert itself in an effective manner. This is aimed at protecting the country’s national interests in a sustained way.
 
read-more
With over 100 incidents of braid chopping reported in different parts of Kashmir, there is widespread fear and anger among the people.
 
read-more
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China's GDP expanded 6.9 percent year on year in the first three quarters of 2017, an increase of 0.2 percent above that of the corresponding period of last year.
 
read-more
As political roller coasters go, there is none as steep and unpredictable as the one shared by the United States and Iran.
 
read-more
In West Asia, the end of one war paves the way for the next. Raqqa, the Syrian capital of the self-styled Islamic State (IS), has fallen to a coalition of rebels, the Syrian Democratic Forces that is backed by the United States.
 
read-more
On “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century”
 
read-more
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699

 
Column-image

Could the North Korean nuclear issue which is giving the world an anxious time due to presence of hotheads on each side, the invasion of Iraq and its toxic fallout, and above all, the arms race in the teeming but impoverished South Asian subcon...

 
Column-image

Title: A Bonsai Tree; Author: Narendra Luther; Publisher: Niyogi Books; Pages: 227 Many books have been written on India's partition but here is a firsthand account of the horror by a migrant from what is now Pakistan, who ...

 
Column-image

As talk of war and violence -- all that Mahatma Gandhi stood against -- gains prominence across the world, a Gandhian scholar has urged that the teachings of the apostle of non-violence be taken to the classroom.

 
Column-image

Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive