India’s Scorpene programme set to enter its most crucial phase

  • Rahul Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 13, 2015 18:00 IST
The floating out ceremony of the first Scorpene-class submarine, Kalvari, on April 6 in Mumbai (HT File Photo)

Kalvari, the first of six French-designed Scorpene diesel-electric attack submarines, is likely to leave the construction yard in Mumbai for rigorous sea trials from September 30, bringing it a step closer to induction into the Navy.

The submarines are being built under licence at the Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL) in Mumbai under the Rs 23,562-crore Project-75.

“People are working round-the-clock to complete last-minute preparations. If all goes well, sea trials will begin on September 30,” a top official told HT.

Kalvari was floated out of her building dock on April 6. Some systems and equipment have been validated during basic dock trials in the months leading up to the start of complex sea trials, including weapon testing in June 2016.

“Joint teams of the Navy and MDL will now conduct specific tests related to systems, equipment, acoustics, safety, and survivability under different conditions of operation in the coming months before declaring Kalvari fit for induction by next September,” said another official.

The remaining five boats will be delivered to the Navy by 2020. The 66-metre submarine can accommodate a crew of 31 and dive up to a depth of 300 metres to elude enemy detection.

The Scorpene project, plagued by cost overruns and missed deadlines, is important to the Navy as its underwater attack capabilities have blunted over time. India operates 13 ageing conventional submarines and an Akula-II nuclear-powered attack boat leased from Russia.

In contrast, China possesses 53 diesel-electric attack submarines, five nuclear attack submarines, and four nuclear ballistic missile submarines.

MDL is among the five shipyards shortlisted for a Rs 65,000-crore project to build six more high-tech submarines. It will help India counter the rapid expansion of China’s submarine fleet.

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