India and Russia have finalized terms for the purchase of four Krivak III class stealth frigates for US$775 million each, an unconfirmed media report said.
According to Business Standard, delivery will begin within four years of signing the contract. Designated the “Upgraded Krivak III class”, the first two frigates will be built in Yantar Shipyard, in Kaliningrad, Russia. The following two will be built in Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) with technology and designs transferred by Yantar.
Indian Navy currently operates six Krivak III frigates. The first three joined the fleet between June 2003 and April 2004, followed by another three between April 2012 and June 2013.
With the current contract, the navy will operate 10 Krivak III frigates — the fleet’s largest single type. The Krivak III costs marginally less than the Rs 57.50 billion ($888 million) that the navy will pay for each of seven indigenous frigates that Mazagon Dock Ltd, Mumbai (MDL) and Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, Kolkata (GRSE) have been contracted to build under Project 17A, the report says.
These new Krivak III frigates will have the same engines and armament configuration as Yantar’s last three frigates — INS Teg, Tarkash and Trikand. These include the vaunted BrahMos anti-ship and land attack missile.
However, the contract is yet to be cleared by the finance ministry and the Cabinet, if approved, it will be the first capital warship contract signed since Project 17A was contracted in early-2015.
The navy’s medium-term plans envisage increasing warship strength from the current 140-odd, to 198 warships by 2027. This will require adding 5-6 warships annually. While some 75 vessels of various types are in the navy’s procurement pipeline, there remains a worrying shortfall of frigates, which are the navy’s workhorses. “We need to have at least 24 frigates. Currently we are 10 short,” a senior admiral was quoted as saying.