In a bid to boost its amphibious capabilities, the Indian Navy will on Tuesday commission its sixth landing ship tank (LST), which can carry upto 10 tanks, 11 combat trucks and 500 troops, and has a considerable range and endurance at sea, a naval official said in New Delhi on Monday.
Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta will induct the ship, named Airavat, at the naval base in Vishakapatnam.
"As a platform designed for amphibious operations against the enemy, the ship is a further upgrade on the Magar class (the first large LST) in suite of weapons, sensors and indigenous content. With a significantly enhanced weapons package, latest control systems and better habitability conditions, Airavat delivers considerable punch and amphibious capabilities to the fighting prowess of the Indian Navy," naval spokesperson Commander Nirad Sinha said.
Amphibious warfare is the utilisation of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to send troops ashore. In the modern era, amphibious warfare persists in the form of commando insertion by fast patrol boats and mini submersibles.
Besides undertaking amphibious operations, the ship is a potent assault platform capable of operating both Seaking 42C and the indigenous Dhruv helicopters. The ship is fitted with two indigenous WM 18A rocket launchers to support successful amphibious operations.
The threat from air is dealt through two indigenous CRN 91 anti-aircraft guns and shoulder launched Igla surface-to-air missiles. It also has soft kill ability through chaff rockets, which can be used to clutter the sensors of an incoming enemy aircraft or missile, the official added.
"The ship can act as a fleet tanker through stern refuelling of other naval vessels and as a hospital ship. The ship can be effectively tasked for humanitarian and disaster relief missions during natural calamities and can operate independently at high seas for as long as 45 days," Sinha said.
A well-planned and executed amphibious operation - basically a tri-service operation launched from the sea by carrying soldiers and their weaponry on a ship and landing on enemy shore - could change the course of a war.