INS Vagir: India’s latest stealth fighter
Smt Vijaya Shripad Naik, wife of Shri Shripad Naik, India’s Minister of State for Defence launched on November 12th 2020, INS Vagir.
INS Vagir is the fifth P75 Scorpene® submarine that is entirely built by the Indian shipyard Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) based on years of technology transfer and partnership with the French “Naval Group” through its naval defence and energy company “DCNS” in India.
INS Khanderi, fourth in the series, was commissioned in September 2019 and the INS Vela, the third, was launched in May 2019. The first two INS Kalvari and INS Khanderi were commissioned into the Indian Navy earlier.
The Scorpene® is a modern high-performant and stealthy submarine. It is a conventional-propulsion submarine designed and developed by Naval Group for all types of mission, such as surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, long-range strikes, special operations or intelligence gathering. Extremely stealthy and fast, its level of operating automation allows for a limited crew which reduces its operating costs significantly. Its combat edge is highlighted by the fact that it has 6 weapon launching tubes and 18 weapons (torpedoes, missiles, mines).
What needs to be reemphasised here is that the submarine is designed to have additional air-independent propulsion besides the regular diesel propulsion, and this makes it efficient to undertake all anti-surface as well as anti-submarine warfare. INS Vagir is built with the state-of-art technology which ensures ‘stealth features’ including advanced acoustic absorption techniques, low radiated noise levels and hydro-dynamically optimised shape and also the ability to attack the enemy using precision guided weapons.
This is named after the Sand Fish, a deadly deep sea predator of the Indian Ocean as it can commission an attack with both torpedoes and tube launched anti-ship missiles, whilst underwater or on surface. Its invulnerability arises from its specially designed underwater characteristics that make it stand apart from most submarines. Officials have stated that this modern submarine will be commissioned to service in a year’s time.
The Naval Group claims that with 14 submarines sold internationally by it, the Scorpene® is an essential reference product in the area of conventional attack submarines (SSK) for Navies across the world. The Scorpene® can be adapted to meet special needs of international navies.
Naval Group is present in India through its 100% subsidiary Naval Group India (DCNS). Established in September 2008, Naval Group India’s mission has been to support the indigenisation of equipment for Scorpene® submarine, to develop the Indian defence eco-system, as well as to develop design services in India with talented Indian engineers. Naval Group India is said to be endeavouring at being a visionary and to further its involvement in empowering more industries by creating a robust eco-system that can cater to the varied defence needs of India.
As already mentioned, the Vagir, is the fifth of the series of six Kalvari-class submarines ordered by India in 2005. It was launched under what is said the Project 75 (P75). It was valued then at over Rs 23,000 crore (This project should not be confused with P75I, which envisages construction of the long-pending Rs 42,000 crore, six stealth submarines, which will be built by MDSL and L&T.)
It may be mentioned here that a submarine is the quietest military platform of a country and extremely tough to be detected. Their main cover is its ability to move stealthily under water and keep an eye on movement of enemy vessels.
The commissioning of the Scorpene® submarines highlights the success of the indigenous submarines construction programme of the Government of India. These submarines have been completely built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) through a transfer of technology from Naval Group and are in line with Indian Government’s “Make in India” policy.
This series of six submarines are fitted with a number of equipment, built in India by qualified and highly trained industrial Micro, Small and Medium enterprises (MSMEs) which form the sound base of the Indian submarine building ecosystem. “Naval Group is proud to be part of first of its kind P75 Kalvari program to deliver entirely ”Made in India” submarines to the Indian Navy. The P75 program is a major element of the strategic Indo-French partnership developed over the last decades. This launch, amidst Covid-19 challenges, represents a new milestone for this unique industrial program and illustrates the Aatmanirbharta (self-reliance) of Indian Navy and industry”, said Alain Guillou, Senior EVP – International Development at Naval Group.
Sanjeev Singhal, Director (Finance), Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders (MDSL) agrees with Guillou. He said: “In spite of the Covid-19 challenges, we are trying to keep the timelines of whatever we had planned earlier, including the delivery of the fifth submarine sometime by end of this year or early next year. In addition, basin trials of one of the ships are also scheduled before early November.” He added how since 2017 MDSL has delivered one submarine every year to the Indian Navy – INS Khanderi was launched in 2017 followed by INS Karanj in 2018 and INS Vela in 2019. Due to the Covid-19 disruption, the company suffered a setback of about three months in the development of the fifth submarine, INS Vagir.
Scorpene submarines are a class of diesel-electric attack submarines and are designed to remain submerged for longer durations and undertake intelligence –operations. They are also supposed to participate in special operations during hostilities. Chile, Malaysia and Brazil are the other countries that possess these submarines.
India currently has 17 submarines of different types, including two ballistic missile submarines and one nuclear-powered attack submarine. The Indian Navy has 14 conventionally-powered submarines, developed in collaboration with French, Russian and German companies.