In what is a major shot in the arm for the Indian Navy’s ability to patrol in both littoral and blue waters, the first of two additional Talwar-class stealth frigates, presently being built in Russia’s Yantar shipyard in Kaliningrad, was launched into water in the Baltic Sea on October 28. The launch of a ship from dry dock into water is significant as it marks the completion of the basic construction. The advanced construction will be done when the ship is afloat. There was approximately an eight-month delay in the warship’s construction and contractual timelines because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Formally christened “Tushil” (meaning protector shield in Sanskrit), the modified Admiral Grigorovich-class (Project 1135.6P/M) guided-missile stealth frigate is part of an order for four frigates contracted by India from the Russian Federation under an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) signed in October 2016. Following the IGA, a $1-billion deal was signed for direct purchase of the warships.
While two frigates are being built at the Yantar shipyard, the remaining two warships will be assembled through the technology-transfer route at the state-owned Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL). The follow-on contract, worth $500 million, was signed in January 2019 between GSL and Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport “for material, design and specialist assistance to locally manufacture the two frigates”.
Construction on the frigates began in April 2019. An upgraded version of the six Talwar-class frigates that were built by the Russian Federation for the Indian Navy between 2003 and 2013, the Admiral Grigorovich-class surface warships can reach top speeds of 30 knots and have an endurance of around 30 days. They are equipped to operate both as a single unit and as consort in a naval carrier task force. The Indian Navy expects all four frigates to be in its inventory by 2026.
Based on the Indian Navy’s specific requirements, the four frigates will be equipped with a potent combination of state-of-art Indian and Russian weapons and sensors.
Besides their advanced features of stealth, including a specially designed hull to limit radar cross-section and low electromagnetic, infrared and under-water noise signatures, the frigates will carry highly sophisticated weapon systems and sensors. According to a statement from the Navy, these warships “are being equipped with major Indian supplied equipment such as surface to surface missiles (SAMs), sonar systems, surface surveillance radar, communication suites and anti-submarine warfare system along with Russian surface to air missiles and gun mounts”.
The frigates’ SAMs will also include the two-stage Indo-Russian cruise missile system BrahMos (named after the Brahmaputra River in India and the Moskva River in Russia). All the ships are powered by engines from Zorya Nashproekt of Ukraine.