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2nd Scorpene-class submarine 'Khanderi' to be commissioned on Sep 28

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INS Khanderi during sea trials. Photo: Indian Navy.

NEW DELHI (PTI): India's second Scorpene-class submarine INS Khanderi that has superior stealth and other major combat capabilities will be commissioned into service by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on September 28 in Mumbai, the Navy said on Tuesday.

Interacting with reporters here, Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar, the vice chief of the Navy, also said that INS Nilgiri, the first ship of the the P-17A frigates, would be launched on the occasion and an aircraft carrier drydock would be inaugurated by the minister.

He said with the commissioning of 'Khanderi' and launch of 'Nilgiri', the combat potential of Navy will "go up many fold".

Also, the aircraft carrier drydock, housed within the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai, is capable of docking India's largest ship, INS Vikramaditya, and has the ability to maintain ships for decades to come, Kumar said.

"The three events lined up for September 28 are in line with our Prime Minister's vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region)," Kumar told reporters.

INS Khanderi, the second Scorpene-class submarine that can attack with torpedoes as well as tube-launched anti-ship missiles whilst underwater or on surface, was launched at the Mazgaon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL) in Mumbai in January 2017.

The first Scorpene-class submarine INS Kalvari was commissioned into the Navy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December 2017. On the occasion, Modi had said Kalvari was an excellent example of 'Make in India' and will boost the Navy's might.

"After commissioning of Khanderi and launch of Nilgiri by Defence Minister's wife and inauguration of the drydock on September 28, the minister has plans for spending a day at sea with navy onboard INS Vikramditya.

"That will be on September 28 evening and forenoon of September 29. He will witness all naval actions including missile firing and various other exercises at sea before disembarking and returning to Delhi," the vice chief of Navy said.

Kumar said any ship or submarine building is a huge challenge involving technological challenges and the complexity of the platform means a number of MSMEs and other companies are involved in ensuring successful completion of its construction.

"This has a huge plough back effect on our economy and in fact, at present our 51 ships are under construction in various shipyards in India and abroad and 49 of these are with Indian shipyards," he added.

A contract with French company Naval Group (earlier called DCNS) was signed in 2005 for the supply of six submarines.

In January 2017, Khanderi, the second Scorpene-class submarine was launched into the waters.

The submarines, designed by the French naval defence and energy company, are being built by Mazagon Dock Ltd in Mumbai as part of Project-75 of the Indian Navy.

On the delays in commissioning of the submarine, Kumar said, certain amount of delays and learning in the process are "completely acceptable" and what is important is that these submarines are fully combat capable when being delivered to the Navy.

The cost of the Scorpene project now stands at around Rs 25,000 crore, while the cost of the seven frigates under P-17A is over Rs. 48,000 crore, according to senior Navy officials.

Asked about the issues faced by 'Khanderi', Kumar said, all those "have been resolved" and certain sea acceptance trials are going and "we expect those to be completed before commissioning".

On budgetary constraints of the service, the vice chief of the Navy said, "We will certainly seek more money....

"What we need is more capital allocation of the budget... Navy's share was 18 per cent of the defence budget in year 2012-13, which came down to 13.66 per cent. We would like it to go back to 18 per cent".

Asked about the naval Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), which recently made its maiden "arrested landing" in Goa, he said, the Navy was fully in support of the LCA project.

"But, LCA Mk-1 was never meant to be inducted. It was a technology demonstrator.... That arrested landing is a huge achievement to prove carrier compatibility and it will help take HAL into next level of AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft). And, a twin-engine deck-based fighter which is what the Navy will end up inducting," he said.

The state-of-the-art features of the Scorpene-class submarine include superior stealth and ability to launch a crippling attack on the enemy using precision guided weapon.

The stealth features will give it an invulnerability, unmatched by many submarines.

The submarine is designed to operate in all theatres, including the tropics. All means and communications are provided to ensure interoperability with other components of a naval task force.

It can undertake multifarious types of missions typically undertaken by any modern submarine, i.e anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine laying and area surveillance.

The remaining four submarines in the Scorpene-class are -- 'Karanj', 'Vela', 'Vagir' and 'Vagsheer'.

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