India’s first conventional submarine in 16 years, ‘Kalvari’, the first of the six French Scorpene class of submarines, was sent to the sea for its first trial on Sunday morning. Made by the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders, it aims to provide a new combat edge to the Navy against the growing number of international submarines in the Indian Ocean.
This is the first step in the journey for this diesel-electric submarine. Over the next few months the vessel will undergo rigorous testing in weapons, sea and surface movement, diving and noise trials. After clearance, ‘Kalvari’ will be commissioned into the Indian Navy. This submarine is a part of the project in collaboration with the DCNS of France and MDL.
Currently, the Navy owns thirteen conventional submarines, nine of them of Russian-origin Sindhughosh class and four German or Shishumar-class. Out of the thirteen, ten of the submarines have crossed the prescribed design life. With this in mind, underwater technology of the Scorpene submarines is predicted as a major boost to the Make in India campaign, with state-of-art features for underwater and surface attacks including superior stealth, precision-guided weaponry, including torpedoes, tube-launched anti-ship missiles. ‘Kalvari’ and the upcoming models of the Scorpene submarines will prove to be an asset to the Indian Navy, enhancing their operations and replacing the older Russian and German models.
Meanwhile, in April 2015, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar stated that directed efforts will be made to complete the project on schedule in collaboration with MDL, Indian Navy and DCNS. Despite the efforts put in, the submarine is far from immediate use. The Scorpene project can be easily aged back to contracts in October 2005, and has faced cost and time overruns. It is reported that commissioning of the submarine with formal induction into the naval fleet will take place by the end of 2016, following the successful completion of all the trials.
This trial set at the Arabian Sea, can be seen as the first step towards the creation of a naval fleet of submarines equipped with modern technology for missions like anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine laying and area surveillance. While India has been one of the exclusive group of submarine-constructing nations since 1992, the creation and integration of ‘Kalvari’ into Indian Navy will be a monumental asset in the history of submarine technology in India.