In a pomp and colour filled event, Admiral R K Dhowan, CONS, Indian Navy commissioned INS Kadmatt, the second vessel of the P-28 Project. The stealth enabled warship is an Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) corvette which was indigenously built by GRSE (Garden Reach Ship Engineering), Calcutta. The vessel is home-ported at Vishakhapatnam and will operate under the Eastern Naval Command (ENC).
Speaking on the occasion, Admiral R K Dhowan, said “The vessel is a symbol of self reliance, indigenisation and Make in India. The vessel depicts the blueprint of the Indian navy in its truest sense. The ship is equipped with 90% indigenous technology which was developed by DRDO engaging multiple Indian PSU’s and private companies. Critical systems on-board the vessel like the Electronic warfare systems, communication and Combat Management Systems (CMS) have all been developed and made in India. Most of the weaponry systems have also been developed by Indian firms.”
The need for dedicated ASW Corvette’s!
Indian Navy is in charge of guarding a vast coastline spreading over 7500 kilometres. The navy also has to sanitize waters along its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) which is spread over 270 kilometres. Under India’s reach is the all strategic ‘Malacca strait’ through which almost 90% of the world trade traffic passes. A lurking submarine anywhere close to Indian waters may spell disaster. With Chinese adding submarines to their forces at an alarming rate the induction of attack submarines alone cannot address the threats.
The addition of specialized aerial and surface platforms capable of neutralizing lurking submarine goes a long way in maintaining the sanity of our waters. Indian navy in 2003 awarded a contract of US $1 billion to build four corvettes to GRSE. Corvettes are extremely manoeuvrable surface combatants indented to be exclusively to neutralize under water threats.
P-28 Kamorta-Class ASW Corvettes
The first vessel under the program was laid down in 2005. Vessels being built under the P-28 program have been designated as the Kamorta corvettes. Displacing around 3400 tonnes these vessels are in fact miniature frigates. These vessels exhibit a very high degree of indigenisation. Multiple private industries were roped in to materialize the project.
The vessel features a Combined Diesel and Gas (CODAG) type of propulsion system. Powering the vessels are four Piestel supplied diesel engines. Each of these engines churn out a maximum output of 5096 HP of power and the vessel can attain a maximum speed of up to 32 Knots. The ship is equipped with raft mounted gearboxes which was designed and developed by DCNS, a leading ship builder of France. These gearboxes significantly subdue the vibrations of the engines when operating at higher RPM’s.
The vessel primarily being a submarine hunter has to be extremely silent. Working towards making the ship stealthy, Indian designers developed an X-shaped hull by using high quality steel supplied by SAIL. The ship also incorporates carbon fibre and reinforced plastic to reduce the radar signature and the weight. On-board electronic systems are powered by Wartsila supplied low-vibration diesel alternators. These features have greatly reduced the acoustic signature and the noise levels of the vessel. The ship is also equipped with NBC suites and this will guard its crew against Nuclear, Chemical and Biological attacks.
Sensors and Processing systems
The primary radar system of the vessel is the Revathi Central Acquisition Radar or the CAR-3D. It was developed by Electronics & Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) a premiere laboratory of DRDO. Revathi is a dedicated radar system for naval platforms and is a derivative of the Rohini radar system developed for the Aksah SAM system. It is produced by a Joint Venture (JV) between BEL, Larsen & Toubro, Astra Microwave and Entec. It employs a planar array antenna and operates in the S-band. The radar provides simultaneous multi-beam coverage and is capable of tracking up to 150 targets in track while scan mode. The radar has a maximum tracking range of 200 kilometres and a can detect targets within an altitude of 18 kilometres.
Providing seamless support to the vessel users for firing the weaponry systems is the IAI developed EL/M-2221 STGR (Search, Track and Gunnery Radar) fire control radar. It is an extremely accurate, mono-pulse dual-band Doppler radar and is capable of functioning in all weather conditions. It operates in the X and Ka band. The radar comes equipped with a composite material antennae and powerful computing systems. It is also enabled with state-of-the-art ECCM capabilities. The radar is capable of acquiring an aircraft sized target at about 30 kilometres and a missile at 15 kilometres. It can impeccably guide a SAM system up to 10 kilometres and a gunnery system up to 20 kilometres.
The ship features EMDINA Combat Management System (CMS) developed by Indian Navy’s Weapons and Electronic Systems Engineering Establishment (WESEE) and Tata Power under the MEDINA program.
Supporting the main gunnery systems is the BEL developed Shikari system, an air defense search and tracking system. The system can be integrated with 40 and 70 mm main guns. The system is also known to support Barak – 1 SAM systems. Taking care of communication on-board the vessel is BEL RAWL02 system. Gigabit enabled and Ethernet based data network systems enable the information to be shared across multiple platforms. The vessel features BEL developed Sanket MKIII and Elbit developed DESEAVER MK-II Electronic Warfare (EW) systems. These systems are in-charge of launching and controlling decoy systems which are crucial in guarding the vessel against any incoming torpedoes.
SONAR Systems – The eyes and ears of the vessel against submarines.
Ships being built under the P-28 program were conceived to boost the ASW capabilities. The vessels are packed with some of the most advanced submarine detection systems. These systems are capable of acquiring, tracking and neutralizing an array of threats.
The backbone for all P-28 class vessels in ASW roles is the BEL developed HUMSA – NG hull mounted SONAR system. The system has received multiple updates over its predecessor HUMSA sonar. The sonar is capable of operating simultaneously in both active and passive modes. The sonar can accurately detect, classify and calculate the position of enemy ships and submarines and simultaneously engage eight targets. HUMSA – NG is considered the eye and ears of the ship as it directs the vessel along its planned path.
Guarding the vessel against any tagging submarines will be the DRDO developed Towed Array sonar (TAS) system. These systems are towed hundreds of feet’s behind the vessel. The data acquired through these systems can be transmitted to other naval platforms in the region through dedicated secured channels. TAS is extremely tough to be detected and neutralized. Indigenous TAS is under development at NSTL, a premier laboratory of the DRDO.
Defensive Weaponry systems
Neutralizing any surface, submerged or aerial targets are an array of defensive weaponry systems. The ship is equipped with 32-VLS cells which carry the proven Barak-1 missiles. These missiles can engage any aerial targets within 12 kilometres off the vessel and can intercept even sea skimming cruise missiles. Two indigenously manufactured AK 630 Close-In-Weapon System (CIWS) neutralize any targets that make their way through the protective net thrown by the SAM system. These systems can engage multiple targets within three kilometres off the vessel. All vessels under the program have been fitted out with best-in class Chaff and flare systems. Latest Electronic Counter Measure (ECM) systems on board the vessels are capable of transmitting false co-ordinates and thus help in guarding the precise location of the vessel.
Latest vessels of the program also feature the NPOL and NSTL developed Maareech Advanced Torpedo Defence System (ATDS). These systems can simultaneously detect and launch countermeasures against incoming torpedoes. The system will feature towed and expandable decoys.
Offensive weaponry suite
Offensive suite of the vessel is formed around the ASW role and is thus equipped with six torpedo launching tubes. These tubes using automated systems can effortlessly launch 633 and 533 mm torpedoes. To lure out hiding submarines the vessel employs depth charges which explode at pre-designated depths. These explosions are extremely effective and can even sink submarines if struck at designated depth.
The vessel is also equipped with two RBU 6000 multi-caliber rocket launchers. These are capable of launching 213 mm rockets which can be used to target lurking submarines. These rockets can also be used effectively to intercept any torpedoes.
The Oto Melera 76 mm main-battle gun is the primary offensive weapon system of the vessel. The gun is effective against targets up to twelve kilometres.
The vessels can house a single helicopter. This copter is in-charge of conducting ASW and SAR missions. Multiple scams have plagued the Indian navy’s plans of acquiring the US built S 70 B helicopters.
INS Kamorta, the first vessel under P-28 program was inducted to the force by Arun Jaitley, then MoD. The third vessel of the program INS Kiltan was launched in 2013 and is headed to the trial phase. The navy is in the process of materializing the P-28A program which promises another eight corvettes. The induction of all these modern vessels will go a long way in boosting the operation capabilities of the Indian Navy. The navy with all its might is bound to keep the Indian waters sanitized.