After years of delays and controversies, the Kalvari — India’s first Scorpene submarine — successfully test-fired an anti-ship missile at a target in the Arabian Sea on Thursday.
The submarine reportedly fired an Exocet SM 39 missile at a decommissioned tugboat, confirming that India has now been armed with a significant naval capability.
The submarine, which can carry 18 torpedoes and travel 1,020 km underwater, is expected to help the Indian Navy fulfil its long-cherished dream of becoming a full-fledged blue-water navy. The Kalvari was built indigenously, under a venture called Project 75, at Mumbai’s Mazagon Docks.
Under this project, the Indian Navy was authorised to build six submarines in collaboration with French firm DCNS. The Kalvari, which began undergoing sea trials in May last year, has been the first underwater vessel from Mazagon Docks to do so since May 28, 1994. The INS Shankul was the last submarine built by Mazagon Docks to be commissioned into the Indian Navy.
The next five submarines are to be rolled out from Mazgaon Docks at intervals of nine months each.
The state-of-the-art features of the Kalvari include superior stealth and the ability to launch crippling attacks on the enemy with precision-guided weapons. The attack can be carried out with torpedoes as well as tube-launched anti-ship missiles whilst underwater or on the surface. The stealth features accord it invulnerability unmatched by other submarines of the kind.
This Scorpene submarine is designed to operate in all theatres of war, including the tropics. It has been endowed with every mode of communication required to ensure interoperability with other components of a naval task force. Kalvari is capable of handling multifarious missions typically undertaken by any modern submarine, such as anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine-laying and area surveillance.
The Kalvari is built with a special kind of high-tensile steel that’s capable of withstanding high yield stress, thereby allowing it to withstand high hydrostatic force while diving deeper to enhance stealth. It is also equipped with weapon-launching tubes, and is capable of carrying weapons that can be easily reloaded at sea. The vast array of weapons and sensors fitted aboard the Scorpene submarine is managed by a high-tech combat management system.
The submarine was undocked on a pontoon on April 6, 2015. After the vacuum testing and battery loading phases were completed, it was launched at the naval dockyard on October 28, 2015, and thereafter brought back for completion of the basin and harbour acceptance trials.
Following that, it was sent for sea trials.
The ‘tiger shark’ of our seas
The Kalvari has been dubbed as a dreaded ‘tiger shark’ protecting our coasts. In keeping with the country’s mythologies and naval tradition, it’s a ‘reincarnation’ of the first Indian submarine to be commissioned into the Indian Navy on December 8, 1967. The previous Kalvari served for nearly three decades, before being decommissioned on May 31, 1996. Today, it has been reincarnated by Mazagon Dock as an even more powerful predator of the deep — guarding the borders and maritime interests of the nation with a zeal that should go a long way in discouraging its enemies.