Among the many acquisitions, procurement of 111 utility helicopters will be the largest
The Indian Navy is the most important armed service to maintain the country’s sphere of influence and power projection capabilities, especially in light of increasing contestations by littoral navies in India’s backyard.
The navy has planned a number of acquisitions to strengthen its operational capabilities over the coming years. Admiral Sunil Lanba indicated in December 2017 that the Request for Proposal (RFP) for 57 multi-role combat fighter jets is likely to be issued by the middle of this year. He also expects the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC I) to be ready by 2020 which will have its own deck-based combat capable fighter aircrafts.
The navy suffered a serious setback after the government scrapped the Rs 32,000 crore project to build 12 minesweepers at the Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) in collaboration with South Korea. It also decommissioned three Pondicherry-class mine countermeasure vessels (MCMVs) in March 2018. Starting from scratch to fill this critical void of at least 24 MCMVs, a global Expression of Interest (EoI) was floated by GSL to ‘prequalify foreign shipyards with proven capability to design and construct MCMVs with single skin, non-stiffened hull’, as per media reports.
India’s two submarine projects, P-75 and P-75(I), are being developed even as France’s Naval Group is exploring additional orders for new submarines. In 2016, the navy had issued a Request for Information (RFI) to six global submarine makers to build six advanced submarines with air-independent propulsion (AIP) technology under the P75 (I) project. They will also be equipped with a vertical launch system and a new cruise missile as an anti-ship missile. On 4 December 2017, Admiral Sunil Lanba said that “We have launched the project to make six SSNs and I will not say any further as it’s a classified project.” The SSNs are nuclear powered attack submarines while SSKs are conventional submarines that use a diesel-electric engine. The six SSNs mentioned by Admiral Sunil Lanba will be a part of 12 submarines (excluding P 75 and P 75I). The third Scorpene class submarine Karanj was launched on 31 January 2018 where Admiral Lanba said that the launch of Karanj marked a significant departure from the manning and training philosophy that was adopted for the first two submarines and added that from third submarine onwards the navy would be fully self-reliant in training and certification processes.
The government also cleared the procurement of missiles for replenishing the naval inventory in September 2017 including the procurement of Russian Klub missiles that would be equipped on older warships such as the Kora class missile corvettes and the Delhi class frigates. The Indian Navy in August 2017 also issued requests to global vendors inviting their interest in supplying about 270 combat, 40 practice, 10 training, 6 dummy and 4 cut section medium range anti-ship missiles. Under ‘Make in India’, India will also acquire transfer of technology from the selected global vendor. The tender is to be issued during the first half of 2018.
The largest acquisition by the Indian Navy will be the procurement of 111 utility helicopters at a cost of nearly Rs 22,000 crore. While 16 will be procured at fly away condition, 95 will be made in India. The Request for Proposal (RFP) was to be issued to military helicopter manufacturers but no new news has been made public yet. A Rs 450 crore proposal to procure nine active towed array sonar systems for frontline warships of the navy was also accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) in 2017.
The Indian Navy has been approved to procure Boeing’s P-8I Training Solution along with 10-year comprehensive maintenance service since it operates eight such aircraft based at INS Rajali.