In just 20 years, India has built more than 17 large frigates, surpassing the British Navy

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The Indian Navy is about to commission its first latest Project -17A Nilgiri class frigates next month. All of these ships will be completed and commissioned in the Indian Navy by 2025.

The Indian Navy has made good progress in designing and developing new frigates. India stated inducting new and advanced frigates in its Navy since May 2002. India ordered its first batch of Talwar-class frigates from russia in 1997. The second batch of 3 more ships was added later. The third batch of the class is launched and will be commissioned in the Indian Navy in 2023. And the contract to built the fourth batch has been signed and the construction of two new ships has already started.

The Talwar-class guided missile frigates of the Indian Navy are modified versions of the Krivak III-class (Project 1135) frigates used by the Russian Coast Guard.

The first P-17A frigate of the Indian Navy was launched on 28 September 2019 and is expected to be commissioned in August 2022. The ship construction speed represents the improvements made by India in its ship building capability.

The P-17A class is the first major class of Indian-designed warships to be built using integrated modular – a manufacturing process in which multiple modules (or “blocks”) of a vessel’s hull are pre-assembled/pre-outfitted independently, before being aggregated for final assembly.

It can be clearly seen from the 2-year construction cycle of the P-17A Class first ship that India has indeed made a lot of progress. The construction cycle of the Tawar-class frigate takes 3 years and the outfitting takes 2 years, while the construction cycle of the P-17A frigate is less than 2 years, and the first ship INS Nilgiri construction began in December 2017, launched in September 2019, and will be commissioned in August 2022.

In terms of weapon configuration, the P-17A frigate has absorbed the most advanced technology that India can obtain. The anti-ship missile used by the ship are 8 BrahMos supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, for anti-aircraft warfare the ship is armed with 32 Barak 8/ER surface-to-air missiles. The Barak-8 is jointly designed and manufactured by India and Israel, it can intercept ballistic missiles in addition to conventional air targets.

Nilgiri class stealth frigate
Nilgiri class stealth frigate CGI

The Barak 8 missile has a maximum range of 150 kilometers, a flight ceiling of 30 kilometers, and a top speed of Mach 2. The Indian Navy uses the Barak-8ER air defense missile as its main long-range air defense missile, and its performance can be compared with the HQ-9 high-speed long-range air defense missile system made by China however Barak-8 is a proven missile, not like the Chinese HQ-9 who cant even intercept supersonic missile while Barak-8 can even intercept Hypersonic missile as well as ballistic missile.

Generally in the interception and destruction of short and medium-range ballistic missiles, Barak-8 has many technical advantages over the HQ-9, and it is also equipped with latest generation of Israel’s anti-missile technology.

The maximum displacement of the P-17A frigate is very large, reaching 6670 tons. This type of tonnage is very large for a frigate, actually this type of tonnage is generally seen in destroyers. So, very easily we can say that the P-17A is a very large and capable frigate. The Indian Navy seems to be very much interested in developing large frigates. The P-17A is much more advanced and capable as compared to the 054A frigate of the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

It can be seen from this that the Indian Navy has gained a lot of experience through the construction and operation of Tawar-class frigates. There are currently 6 Talwar-class frigates in active service with the Indian Navy and 4 ships are under construction.

The Shivalik-class guided-missile stealth frigates are the successors of the Talwar-class. They are the first stealth warships built in India. They were designed to have better stealth features and land-attack capabilities than the preceding Talwar-class frigates.

The total displacement of the Shivalik-class is 6,200 tonnes. The ship is armed with 32 Barak-1 and 24 Shtil-1 medium range anti-air missiles. In the anti-ship and land-attack role, the ship has got a powerful arsenal of 8 BrahMos Anti-ship Missiles. It is worth mentioning that the BrahMos missile is currently the fastest anti-ship cruise missile in the world. India has built more than 17 frigates in the past 20 years, all of which focus on multi-purpose, and the tonnage of these ships is very large, which is somewhat similar to the multi-purpose frigates currently built in Europe.

In terms of air defense destroyers , the Visakhapatnam-class destroyers are air defense destroyers being built by the Indian Navy. From 2013 to 2018, 4 ships were built in one go, one ship is already serving in the Indian Navy, other three ships will be commissioned in 2022, 2023, 2024 respectively.

The Visakhapatnam-class maximum displacement is about 8,200 short tons, which is comparable to the Aegis Combat System equipped 052D destroyer of the Chinese Navy. The Visakhapatnam-class is armed with a good and powerful weapon system package. For anti-surface warfare the ship has got 16 BrahMos anti-ship missiles, for anti-submarine warfare the ship is equipped with 4 × 533 mm (21 inch) torpedo tubes and 2 × RBU-6000 anti-submarine and land-attack rocket launchers.

Judging from the firepower capacity, it is still little less. At present, the main air defense ships have at least 48 units of air defense missile configuration, but India still reserves 16 units to launch cruise missiles, which shows that the Indian Navy lacks little firepower in terms of land-attack. After the completion and the construction of the P-17A frigates, the Tawar class and the Shivalik class, the number of large ships of the Indian Navy has surpassed the British Navy, and the anti-submarine warfare capability of the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean will be upgraded.

The Indian Navy will rely on these frigates to establish certain anti-submarine advantages. Also after the induction of good numbers of Anti-submarine aircrafts such as the P-8I Poseidon from the United States, the undersea warfare capability of the Indian Navy has increased a lot.

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