The last few months have not been good for the Indian Navy. Spate of accidents with the worse being the explosion on INS Sindhurakshak which sent it to the bottom of the sea with 18 lives lost and the recent explosion on INS Sindhuratna in which two lives were lost.
India has nine Kilo (Sindhughosh) class submarines and four HDW Shishumar class boats along with the one Akula SSN leased from Russia. The operational availability of the submarines is also less with about 6 boats available for patrol at any time.
India has 6 Scorpenes on order but has been plagued by delays. The first of the submarines will enter service only sometime in 2016 or later with the remaining boats in the next 5 years.
India was to issue a tender for follow on submarines under project 75I but that has been in a limbo as well.
The first of India’s Kilo class subs will be nearing the end of their service life adding to the woes of the Navy.
India will have a severely compromised submarine force if urgent steps are not taken to bolster the force.
First of all quicken up the delivery of Scorpenes. We can ask France to start making the subs at their shipyards too and not insist on making all the boats in India.
India also has to quicken the follow on project 75I. Here again build them in the country that wins the contract as well as India. Use of multiple lines will ensure quicker deliveries.
The other thing India can do is dust out the HDW ToT. Just like India did with the Bofors ToT and is developing its own howitzer with improvements. India can use private companies like L&T, Pipavav that have the both the ability and spare capacity to make advanced naval vessels. With the experience that India has from the ToT of HDW, Scorpenes and our own Arihant class submarine, we can develop 1000–1500 tons class submarines that can be churned out quickly & at a cheap price. These boats can be the LCA of our navy. Cheap and in numbers.
India should work to quicken the process of making SSNs and SSBNs after the induction of the Arihant class submarine. India should use private shipyards to add multiple lines of production so that numbers can be churned out at a faster rate.
Without taking drastic measures, India will face serious problems with its underwater fleet and compromise on a lot of issues. India won’t have submarines to protect its carriers as it won’t be able to hunt and kill enemy submarines like Chinese SSNs sent to sink our carrier. We won’t be able to protect our own SSBNs from Chinese hunter killers as well, compromising our second strike capability.