India’s largest ever indigenous defence contract is shortly expected to get final approval with the Navy freezing the design and specifications for the P 17 A stealth warships and completing all commercial negotiations for the project.
Top Navy designers who have been working on the project have confirmed that the project is expected to get final clearances from the Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS) shortly after which construction of seven modern warships will commence at shipyards in Kolkata and Mumbai.
The mega project,that was expected to be worth Rs 45,000 crore when it was cleared by the Defence Acquisition Committee (DAC) in 2009,is billed as a game changer for the Indian ship-building industry not only for being the most expensive Indian warship yet but also because it will give shipyards the critical technology of modular construction that enables a rapid production rate.
The Navys top ship designer,the Director General of Naval Design Rear Admiral A K Saxena,said Friday the P 17 A class frigates would be in the 6,700-ton category and would have the latest in stealth features,including fully concealed weapon systems and sensors.
The warships will have the latest stealth features as well as advanced indigenous weapon systems. The modular construction methodology that GRSE (Kolkata) and MDL (Mumbai) have acquired will ensure the warships will be built in a reduced time-frame, a senior Navy officer said. While GRSE will construct three ships,four will be constructed by MDL.
The new generation warships,which will be based on the P 17 Shivalik class that has already been inducted but will be larger at 149 metre with a draught of 5.3 metre,are currently running behind schedule by at least two years.
As per the original plan approved by the Defence Ministry in 2009,the shipyards were to commence production by 2011 after the two shipyards had absorbed modular construction technology. The last of the seven frigates were to be inducted by 2021.
The frigates are expected to be equipped with the latest version of the Brahmos missile,possibly the hypersonic variant if developed on time.