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India’s Next Generation Stealth Frigate Of Project 17A Takes Off At Mazagon Dock

With the laying of the keel of Advanced Stealth Frigates under Project P17a at Mazagon Dock, India embraces the best in class technology in the world. Loaded with the next generation weapon platform the Barak 8 and hypersonic BrahMos in the P17A warships will be a formidable force of the Indian navy.

Photo Credit : MBL

1600002151_pxrlRN_Keel_laying_Ceremony_CMD.jpg

P 17A-Keel Laying Ceremony

With the laying of the keel of Advanced Stealth Frigates under Project P17a at Mazagon Dock, India embraces the best in class technology in the world. Loaded with the next generation weapon platform the Barak 8 and hypersonic BrahMos in the P17A warships will be a formidable force of the Indian navy. The multi role P17a with highly automated integrated weapon platforms will be soon sailing high in the blue water.
 
The Stealth P-17A frigates are expected to play a critical role in India’s maritime domain, leading as the net security provider in the Indian Ocean region and beyond in the Indo-pacific concept. Indian navy needs such stealth warships to check against the China’s rogue posture, projecting aggressive behavior in Indian Ocean Region. In a report, Chinese ships & submarines - both conventional and nuclear types along Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV)  has completed about 3,400 observations lately-mostly covert operation. 

Vice Admiral S R Sarma – COM & CWP&A of the Indian Navy and Shri V L Kantha Rao Additional Secretary (Defence Production) laid the keel of the third ship (Yard- 12653) of the prestigious P17A class stealth frigates on 10 Sep 2020. The keel laying ceremony was conducted through an e-platform in the presence of Vice Admiral R B Pandit, Chief of Staff, HQWNC; Vice Admiral Narayan Prasad (IN Retd.) – CMD MDL and Rear Admiral A K Saxena (IN Retd.) -Director (Shipbuilding).    

The Project 17-A involves the construction of seven frigates at an estimated cost of nearly Rs 50,000 crore. Under the P17A series Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd. (MDL) as the lead yard will build four vessels, while GRSE will construct the remaining ships. Given the clearance from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to develop warships under the Project 17A, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed shipbuilding contracts with Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders and GRSE in 2015.

The project demonstrates the nation’s indigenous capabilities to design, build and integrate systems for modern stealth combat ships.

The P-17A class frigates are being built using indigenously developed steel and fitted with weapons and sensors along with Integrated Platform Management System. These ships are having stealth features. 

P-17A ships will be loaded with indigenous state of the art electronic system, sensor suite. While the weapon platforms will integrate BrahMos SSM, LRSAM (Forward & Aft configuration) with MF STAR radar, indigenous Sonar, and  two-Triple tube Heavy Torpedo launcher.

What adds to the firepower is the Barak-8 supersonic surface-to-air missile with a range of 70-100 km. Indian Navy has conducted the maiden co-operative engagement test of the medium range surface to air missile (MRSAM), a ship-based version of Israel's Barak 8 missile, which is also a preferred anti-missile defence weapon.The test enables India to share sensor data on air targets, including incoming enemy aircraft and cruise missiles, in real time. 

Construction of P17A ships differ in the very concept of warship building by way of adoption of the modern technology ‘Integrated Construction (IC)’ where the blocks are pre-outfitted before joining to reduce the build period of warships. When commissioned the platforms will enhance the combat capability of the Indian Naval fleet. 

Indian navy is expecting to have all the seven Project 17A class ships in service by 2025-27. As reported, already, GE Marine has been tasked to supply gas turbine equipment for the LM2500 Engines for P-17A. According to the official, it is expected to be on schedule.

Though, Project 17A is a follow-on of the Project 17 Shivalik-class frigate, it will acquire altogether different dimensions and class. Talking about the advancement over the Shivalik-Class, people involved in the project 17a, pointed out some of the next generation considerable feats of naval engineering and indigenously developed systems and platforms with partners like Bharat Electronic Limited (BEL).  MDL signed $ 1.2 billion contract with BEL to supply seven Barak-8 air defence systems. The defence system is from Israel Aircraft Industries which has tied up with BEL for a $777 million deal for the Barak-8 order.

“So when we came to Project 17 Alpha, we have done 2-3 major changes in that design. One is the Shivalik-class ships there were no torpedoes, so we wanted to fit torpedoes so the length had to be increased. So, we have done the elongation actually it is called geo-similar expansion. So, 4.5% length and breadth have been expanded, that means the hull geometry has been retained the same, but these dimensions have changed. So all systems have been replaced by India,” explained the leading expert of naval engineering & design.

But it is the combat capability of these vessels that put it best in class according to the expert, remarked: “The combat capability of these ships will be much higher.” The greater role of Stealth P171a will be for anti- submarine, air defence and enemy surface sea to protect critical sea lines of communication or a force majeure of a strike group. 

What makes it the best in class frigates in the world?

Stealth Design and Weapon Firepower

  • .Project 17 Alpha further improves upon the stealth signatures of Shivalik-Class, making it in league of most advance stealth frigates in the world. Warship cuts through the infrared signatures, on the radar signatures and on the noise signatures.  
  • The Radar MFSTAR (for Multi-Function Surveillance Track and missile guidance Radar) for the long-distance target detection will track Air and Surface targets. It will be the anti- missile countermeasure.

  • The elongation actually is on the line of geo-similar expansion. So, 4.5% length and breadth have been expanded, that means the hull geometry has been retained the same, but these dimensions have changed thus allowing more weapons integration. 

  • Frigate will be armed with 32 Barak 8 and eight BrahMos surface-to-air missiles (SAM). BrahMos is a medium-range supersonic cruise missile with range of 500km and fired from vertical launch systems. A vertical launch system can fire multiple missiles simultaneously.

  • The anti-submarine warfare (ASW) systems onboard the frigate will include two rocket launchers and triple-torpedo tubes.

  • The Combat Management System (CMS-17A) with advanced Data Link is the most sophisticated network command & control communications for P17a.

  • CIWS (Close-in Weapon System) is highly reliable Gun mount AK- 630s 

  • The Project 17A class ships will be equipped with main gun calibre of 127mm, unlike the Indian Navy's existing fleet of ships that use 76mm and 100mm guns.

  • Sensors and countermeasures.

  • The frigates will be loaded with an advanced sensor suite, integrating an EL / M-2248 MF-STAR multifunction active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and a Humsa-NG bow-mounted sonar.