India to ink $4 b contract for four frigates

Seeking to add power to the Navy’s capabilities, India will soon seal a $4-billion contract with Russia for the purchase of four missile-carrying frigates. Called Project 11356, the four warships will have gas turbine power engines and will be equipped with the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.

Project 11356 has been in the offing for some years now, sources said. The frigates have a displacement of about 4,000 tonnes, speed of up to 30 knots and endurance of 30 days. Three such ships have already been built for the Black Sea Fleet.

Two shipyards

Specifying the shipyards to build Project 11356, intended for the Indian as well as the Russian Navy, is the first step towards the purchase of frigates from Russia, sources said, adding that the Yantar shipyard in Kaliningrad and Goa Shipyard are to be involved in the project.

Official sources said the contract to be signed between the two nations would be based on the “two plus two formula, wherein two frigates will be built in Russia and sent to India, whereas another two will be built at the Goa Shipyard with assistance on technology transfer.”

“Last year in July, the Defence Ministry finalised orders worth ₹35,500 crore for Goa Shipyard Ltd, in a move that would boost technical know-how and provide employment opportunities to localites,” said an official with the PSU with direct knowledge of the contract. In order to execute the order, the shipyard is investing ₹4,000 crore, he added, and has undergone modification for the construction and integration of warships with stealth capabilities.

The shipyard is already in the process of executing six Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Vessel Project, of which five ships have been delivered all ahead of schedule. The last ship too is progressing ahead of schedule, the official added.

High-level team

A high-level delegation from Russia visited the Indian shipyard in March, to “appraise themselves of the specialised field of shipbuilding that is currently on” at the defence public sector undertaking Goa Shipyard. Officials from Russia’s United Ship Building and Yantar Shipyard who visited Goa have helped continue discussions between the shipyards, sources added.

The Indian Navy currently operates six Talwar-class frigates designed by the Severnoye Design Bureau and built at the Baltiysky Zavod and Yantar Shipyards.

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