INS Kavaratti : Missing teeth
The Indian Navy inducted the fourth and final unit of the Kamorta class, the INS Kavaratti, in Visakhapatnam on October 23. In a hat tip to triservices jointmanship, the service got army chief General M.M. Naravane to commission the ship by unveiling the commissioning plaque and dedicating the warship to the nation.
The 3,400-tonne anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvettes, designed by the navy’s Directorate of Naval Design and built by the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), are the shining examples of indigenous defence efforts. They feature home-made content of nearly 90 per cent—among the highest for any Indian warship—because a bulk of their engines, weapons and sensors have been produced within the country. They were built using India developed DMR 249A steel.
Yet, as the navy notes with a twinge of regret, the four warships are far from being fully functional. All four were commissioned between 2014 and 2020 without two critical items of equipment—a towed array sonar and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). A towed array sonar is a device which, when trailing behind a warship, beyond the noise of its propellers, keeps an ear out for submerged submarines. A surface to air missile system protects the warship against threats from enemy aircraft, helicopters and anti-ship missiles. The ships are equipped only with two short-range AK-630 fast-firing guns which have a maximum range of four kilometres. The absence of SAMs means these corvettes will always have to operate under the air defence umbrella of other missile-armed warships.
There are two stalled projects to blame. The Advanced Towed Array Sonar (ATAS), designed and developed by the DRDO’s Kochi-based Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), is still undergoing development trials. The navy, meanwhile, has shortlisted Germany’s Atlas Elektronik for supplying nine ACTAS (Active Towed Array Sonar) low-frequency towed array sonars worth Rs 465 crore. The contract is expected to be signed by March 2021.
The corvettes were to have been equipped with the SR-SAM (short-range SAMs), a joint venture between French missile maker MBDA and the DRDO’s missile laboratory DRDL (Defence Research & Development Laboratory). The joint venture, floated in 2010 to build a series of short-range missiles called the ‘Maitri’ for all three services to replace the DRDO’s shelved Trishul SAM, did not take off and the missile project was shelved six years ago. Last year, the navy began a Rs 8,800 crore contest for buying new SR-SAMs. It has received bids for short-range missile systems from Russia, Israel and France and is currently in the process of finalising the trials of the three contenders. Besides the Kamorta class, the new SR-SAM will also equip the navy’s sole aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya, a handful of Rajput-class destroyers and future naval warships. However, it is going to be a few years before missiles will appear on any of the four warships.
Source:- India Today