To maintain its depleting sub-surface levels, the Navy has begun the process of upgrading six of its oldest submarines. The first of them is en route Russia for major refit and life certification (MRLC), which will extend its operational life by 10 years.
INS Sindhukesari , a Kilo-class submarine commissioned in 1989, left India in early May and is scheduled to reach the Zvezdochka yard at Severodvinsk in Russia in two months, Navy sources said on Wednesday.
“These submarines have completed over 25 years of service. It was decided to upgrade them in view of the delay in the induction of new submarines. The main aspect of the MRLC is that it will be certified by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM),” a senior Navy officer said.
In August 2014, the Defence Acquisition Council had accorded approval for sending six submarines for the MRLC — four Russian Kilo class and two German HDW class. The process is expected to cost over Rs. 1,000 crore each. Two Kilo class submarines are to be sent to Russia, while two more would be upgraded in India by the Hindustan Shipyard Limited in Vizag. Both the HDW submarines are to be upgraded in India, one each by Mazagaon Dock Limited (MDL) and the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai.
“The upgradation plan might be revised based on the induction of Scorpene submarines as their schedules are being accelerated,” the official said.
The government had approved an ambitious “30-year submarine construction plan” in 1999 for building 24 conventional submarines under two different production lines. But not a single submarine has been inducted till date and the first Scorpene submarine under Project-75, after repeated delays, has just begun sea trials and is expected to join the force in October this year.
Incidentally, the Scorpenes will roll out without their major weapon, heavy weight torpedoes, which are caught up in allegations of corruption in other defence deals.