India’s leading private defense equipment manufacturer, Larsen & Tourbo (L&T), is gearing up to host a major modernization plan of the Indian Navy. In an official letter to the Indian government a Russian shipyard has put forward its willingness to work alongside L&T. If all decks are cleared L&T will play a major role in a planned Rs. 5000 crore Kilo-class submarine modernization plan of the Indian Navy.
The Indian navy operates 9 kilo-class submarines and these subs are the backbone of Indian Navy’s underwater operations. These submarines were procured from the Soviet in the late 1980’s. Displacing around 3000 tonnes these submarines are capable of diving to depths up to 1100 feet. Various technologies incorporated by the Russian’s have earned these submarines the nick name ‘black-holes of the deep seas’. A Kilo-class submarine with its electric batteries can lay undetected in waters for days at a time.
The submarines having served the Indian navy for the past three decades are now being prepped up for a slew of modernization plans. Six of the submarines were refitted to enhance their capabilities in Indian and Russian shipyards. In a bid to reduce the up gradation cost and strength the growing Indian shipyards, Indian Navy decided to modernize the remaining four submarines in an Indian shipyard. Accordingly Russian firms were required to tie-up with Indian shipyards to modernize the subs locally.
L&T now has out raced the Reliance backed Pipavav shipyard and the state run Cochin Shipyard to win the deal. L&T has sound knowledge in the complex engineering involved in readying submarines given its role in India’s strategic ATV project. It is believed that L&T is the firm supplying and fabricating the hull for the vessels being floated out under ATV projects.
In a statement to Economic Times an official involved with the project was quoted saying “A survey of the equipment profile and finances was conducted at the Cochin Shipyard, Pipavav and the L&T yard at Kattupalli. Only the L&T facility was found technically capable of carrying out the work in the given time-frame.”
L&T will accordingly upgrade three of the four remaining submarines in its Kattupalli shipyard. The remaining single sub will be dispatched to a Russian shipyard. The midlife refit once complete will enable the submarine to operate for the next ten years seamlessly. L&T’s agreement with Pipavav stands cancelled and Russian partners have confirmed the development in a letter to the Indian government.