Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR April 2016 Contents original contract baseline.
The IN is very happy with the boats. The Admiral
talked of German “excellence in design and excellence
in execution”. Good preventative maintenance and
free flowing information between the two partners has
produced a situation where, according to the serving
submariner interviewed, “the Boats are meeting the
availability requirements of the Navy”. The Admiral
advised that, “no submarine of the Dolphin Class has
ever returned from sea because of a critical technical
Refits are a two year activity conducted after eight
years of sea time, interrupted with a few one to two
month maintenance periods.
The Dolphin II is designed to be form fit and
function compatible with the Dolphin I; the Israeli’s
wanted commonality of function but accepted new
solutions where Dolphin I component buys were
no longer possible. Some improvements in the
submarines were sought, the starkest being the
AIP fuel cell. When questioned on the need for AIP,
noting there is debate in Australia as to its utility, the
Admiral replied, “In blue water you have some choice
as to when to snort. But in the littoral, with a complex
scenario, this is not the case. Rex, the nature of
submarines is to be somewhere where nobody knows
– once you have to snort, you breach that principle”.
In India APDR spoke with two retired submariners.
The first was Vice Admiral Birinder Singh Randhawa,
a retired submarine engineer who relevantly held
the role of Chief of Defence Materiel. The second
was Commander Arun Jyoti, formerly a marine
engineer on the Indian Navy’s Foxtrot and Kilo
class submarines, and also the Project Manager for
Integrated Submarine and Ship repair programs.
The Indian Navy has, first and foremost, a deterrent
role to play across a large area and with a broad
spectrum of potential conflict areas in mind. There
is both a conventional and nuclear aspect to this
deterrence. In the event that deterrence fails, the
Navy has a number of offensive and defensive
capabilities to protect its own forces, territory and
trade and, indeed, to launch a nuclear second strike.
The Navy also has diplomatic, constabulary and
benign objectives listed in its doctrine.
The area the Indian Navy must deal with is vast. Of
direct interest is the Indian Ocean (with emphasis on
the word “Indian”). It has an area of 69 million square
km and covers 20% of the earth’s surface. Africa
forms its western wall while Myanmar, Malaysia,
Indonesia and Australia form the eastern wall. It is
nearly 10,000 km wide at the southern tips of Africa
and Australia. The Asian continent serves as its roof
and it extends 13,500 km from the Persian Gulf to
Antarctica. The great Indian peninsular landmass,
jutting out for a thousand miles, characterises the
Indian Ocean and lends it its name.
However, India often deploys its Navy beyond the
The Indian Navy has a strength of around 58,000
personnel and has a large fleet consisting of two
aircraft carriers, numerous amphibious ships, 10
destroyers, and 12 frigates, 25 corvettes, seven mine
countermeasure vessels, 47 patrol vessels, four fleet
tankers and various other auxiliary vessels.
The Indian Navy has a number of submarines. It has
one Arihant class SSBN undergoing extensive first
of class trials, with a view to a total force of six such
submarines. The Navy also has a single Akula-class
nuclear-powered attack submarine as it seeks to
establish a nuclear fleet.
With respect to conventional submarines, it
operates nine Kilo Class and four Type 209/1500s,
with the first of six new Scorpene Class in the water
undergoing sea trials now.
The multi-national nature of Indian Navy’s fleet is
the result of a tapestry of politics. The first submarines
that the Indians had were Russian Foxtrots. The
decision to go with the Foxtrot flowed from UK
government resistance to supply the Navy with
Oberon Class submarines; a decision that initiated a
long standing policy of the Indian Government, when
unable to source local equipment, to seek its military
equipment from a variety of sources.
The submarines that followed were the Kilos. The
Kilos were described by the Admiral and Commander
as excellent boats with a proven record. They have
The shift away from the Russian submarine supplier came in the
80’s when TKMS won a contract to supply four Type 209s (with an
option for further boats) to the Navy.
30 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter APR 2016
Israeli Dolphin Class. Credit: Wikipedia / Israeli Defence Forces
31/03/2016 6:45 PM
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