The Indian Defense Ministry’s Defense Acquisition Committee is likely to take up upgrading of Delhi-class destroyers and Talwar class frigates with indigenous Brahmos missile along with construction of six next-gen missile boats during its next meeting scheduled for Saturday.
The DAC on Saturday is expected to review and clear projects worth nearly $4.2 billion (INR 29,000 crore) to buy new generation warships, naval fighting systems and upgrades.
The Navy is set to significantly upgrade its legacy Delhi class destroyers and the relatively new Talwar class frigates with the Brahmos missile, significantly expanding their offensive firepower. The existing weaponry of less-capable Klub anti-ship missiles which currently equip the Delhi and Talwar class may be transferred to older warships though these plans are still being finalised. The deal to upgrade these warships will cost $397 million (INR 2700 crore) which will include the entire Brahmos missile complex including practice missile rounds, NDTV reported Friday.
Apart from the upgrades, a proposal to construct an all-new class of six next-generation missile boats in India is a part of the meetings. The 1,250-ton 'pocket battleships' are to be armed with Brahmos anti-shipping missiles which can strike targets at sea and on land 300 kilometres away.
The boats will replace the Navy's ageing Prabal class missile-boats and will also be equipped with surface to air missiles, close-in-weapon-systems to intercept hostile missiles, a main gun and point defence guns to counter threats, potentially from terrorists operating in small fast boats. They will be built in India and with the project likely to cost US $1.9 billion (INR 13,000 crore).
Heavily armed for their size, the missile boats follow a recent trend of modern Navies building a new generation of small missile armed ships. In October last year, the Russian Navy launched 26 missiles from four small frigates and corvettes in the Caspian Sea to strike ISIS targets more than 1,500 kilometres away.
Significantly, the Navy wants to upgrade its ability to carry out clandestine operations by its Marine Commandos who will now be equipped with two Special Operations Vehicles (SOV), essentially mini-submarines, to be built at Hindustan Shipyards Limited in Visakhapatnam. Each SOV will embark three swimmer delivery vehicles (SDV) to be used by specialist divers in commando operations. This project is worth $294 million (INR 2000 crore).
Finally, the Navy plans to acquire five diving support craft in a Make-in-India proposal for $22 million (INR 150 crore) to replace its elderly vessels.