India to spend $3 billion for 3 more Talwar-class frigates

It is a question of when, not if, Russia would be getting the fresh order for the Talwar-class frigates. Source: Rossiyskaya Gazeta

It is a question of when, not if, Russia would be getting the fresh order for the Talwar-class frigates. Source: Rossiyskaya Gazeta

A formal contract is likely to be signed after Russia delivers to India the third and final Talwar-class stealth frigate INS Trikand.

Russia is going to get a fresh order of building three more Talwar-class stealth frigates for India later this year which is likely to be worth $3 billion. The frigates have substantially enhanced Indian Navy’s firepower in the region mainly because of their stealth capabilities.

Knowledgeable sources told RIR that the Indians have already orally conveyed their in-principle decision to Russia to construct three more Talwar-class frigates. A formal contract is likely to be signed after Russia delivers to India the third and final Talwar-class stealth frigate INS Trikand, being built at the Yantar shipyard in Russia. The delivery is expected in June 2013. 

The game-changer aspect of the Talwar class frigates is its stealth technology and a special hull design. These features enable the Talwar class frigates to be extremely useful in a wide range of missions like finding and eliminating enemy submarines and large surface ships. The Talwar-class frigates are the first Indian Navy warships to have stealth features.

What the Fresh Deal May Entail

Sources in the Indian defence establishment said the mood is quite upbeat about the successful Talwar-class frigates experiment and once the current cycle gets completed after the delivery of INS Trikand, the Indian Navy will take a call on issuing a formal order to Russia.

Source: Rossiyskaya Gazeta

The new set of frigates will be more technologically advanced and each of the next three Talwar-class frigates will be equipped with BrahMos missiles. The existing Talwar-class boats and the upcoming INS Trikand are not BrahMos-equipped because they were designed before the BrahMos naval variant could be developed.

Therefore the greatest USP of the upcoming order for three more Talwar-class frigates would be that for the first time these frigates will be fitted with BrahMos. “This is the single most important reason why the Russians don’t really have to worry whether they are going to get this order or not,” a source said on condition of anonymity.

Likely irritants

It is a question of when, not if, Russia would be getting the fresh order for the Talwar-class frigates. The Indians would pitch for inclusion of a financial penalties clause for Russian failure to meet delivery deadlines. The Indians are unhappy that the Russians invariably fail to meet the delivery deadlines and eventually jack up the prices too.

Source: Rossiyskaya Gazeta

The same problem has been witnessed in the Talwar-class frigates episode. Though the boats are doing well, the delivery deadline was pushed back by one year or so for all the vessels. Even INS Trikand was scheduled to be delivered to India by April 2012.

Russia will have to streamline its procedures and remove recurring problems of delays and price hikes. In December 2010, Russian shipbuilding plant Yantar had asked Russia's state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, for an additional $100 million to complete construction of the three frigates for the Indian Navy. However, in this case it was an internal problem relating to VAT refund and the Russians this time did not jack up the already negotiated price.

Staggered Payment

Another good thing from the Russian point of view is that it would be a government-to-government dealing wherein floating of global tender will not be required.

Stung by the Agusta Westland VVIP helicopters scandal, the Indian Ministry of Defence is likely to stipulate a stringent and transparent payment schedule. In the case of Agusta Westland deal, the MoD was flustered when it realized that only India stood to lose if it were to scrap the chopper deal because the Italian company had been paid more than fifty percent of the total amount though just about 33 percent of the work had been done.

Therefore, the contract for the new deal would focus on staggered payments after a mutually agreeable advance payment is made.

India had awarded a $1.6 billion contract to the Yantar shipyard in 2006 to build three modified Talwar class for the Indian Navy. The final trials of INS Trikand have already started in the Baltic Sea. Yantar shipyard spokesman Sergei Mikhailov has been quoted in a recent RIA Novosti report as saying that INS Trikand was cleared for final state trials on April 4, 2013 which should be completed by this month end.

Source: Rossiyskaya Gazeta

The Indian Navy got a major fillip to its firepower with the arrival of its latest acquisition INS Tarkash at Mumbai on December 27, 2012. Built by the Yantar Shipyard, Kaliningrad, Russia, INS Tarkash was second of three project 1135.6 (follow-on Talwar class) ships ordered by Indian Navy, the first being INS Teg which joined the fleet in June 2012.

What Makes Talwar Class Frigates Formidable

These ships, a modification of Krivak III class Russian frigates, are designed to carry and operate one heavy duty early warning helicopter which can provide over-the-horizon targeting. The Talwar-class frigates can also have the indigenously built Dhruv light combat helicopter.

The frigate’s efficacy in anti-submarine warfare can be gauged by the fact that its RPK-8 rocket system has a firing range from 600 to 4300 metres and the depth of engagement of up to 1000 metres.

Its combat data system independently generates combat missions based on situation analysis, determines optimal number of missile firings, displays information on the state of ship-borne weaponry and transmits data to protection systems.

The Talwar-class frigate is armed with a new 3M-54 Klub attack anti-ship system with a vertical missile launcher. This anti-ship system is an 8.22 meters (27 ft) long missile using active radar guidance with a range of 220 kilometres. It is a three-stage missile in which the terminal stage reaches supersonic velocity (Mach 2.9) when it is approximately 20 km (12 miles) from its target.

The writer is a New Delhi-based journalist-author and a strategic affairs analyst. 

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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