The Cabinet Committee on Security has cleared a deadly weapons and sensors package for the four guided-missile destroyers under construction at Mazagon Docks in Mumbai, which will take the overall project cost of the four stealth warships to around Rs 35,800 crore.
Sources said the CCS last week cleared the over Rs 6,150 crore acquisition cost of a wide range of advanced weapon systems and sensors for the four 7,300-tonne destroyers being constructed under ‘Project-15B’. The first of the destroyers, INS Visakhapatnam, is likely to be commissioned in 2021-2022 after some delay. It will be followed by her sister warships, INS Mormugao and INS Imphal, while the fourth is yet to be named.
All four will be armed with precision-strike BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles as well as the next-generation Barak surface-to-air missile systems, among other weapons like 127 mm main guns and rocket launchers. While BrahMos has been developed jointly with Russia, the Barak-NG is a collaboration between Israeli Aerospace Industries-Rafael and the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation.
“While the Rs 29,644-crore fixed cost component for construction of the destroyers was inked in 2011, the variable cost component, which includes the weapons and sensors, has now been cleared by the CCS,” a source said.
The stealth destroyers, which will be propelled by four gas turbines to achieve speeds of over 30 knots, will pack a formidable punch. With their weapons and sensors, like the vertically launched missile systems and MF-STARs (multi-function surveillance and threat alert radars), the warships will be capable of long-distance engagement of shore, sea-based and air targets.
The interception range of the supersonic Barak-NG missile systems, for instance, has been increased from the earlier 70 km to around 100 km to provide an all-weather ‘defence shield’ against incoming enemy fighters, drones, helicopters, missiles and other munitions. The strike range of the 290-km BrahMos is also now being extended, as earlier reported by TOI.
The destroyers, which span 163 metres in length and 17.4 metres at the beam, have been indigenously designed and constructed. The P-15B destroyers, each of which can carry two multi-role helicopters, incorporate cutting-edge design concepts for improved survivability, sea-keeping stealth and manoeuvrability.
Once these warships are commissioned, they will join the ranks of operational destroyers named INS Delhi, INS Mumbai, INS Mysore, INS Kolkata, INS Kochi and INS Chennai. The naval tradition is to name indigenously constructed destroyers, which are second only to aircraft carriers in size and combat power, after a state capital or big city.
The Navy has a force level of 125 warships as well as 15 diesel-electric and two nuclear submarines, along with around 235 aircraft, helicopters and drones, to guard India’s strategic interests from the Persian Gulf to Malacca Strait as well as deter Pakistan and counter China’s expanding footprint in the Indian Ocean Region. The force also has 48 warships under construction in India, including aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, four Scorpene submarines and the four destroyers, while it will also get two frigates from Russia.