In a bid to build a blue-water navy capable of operating across oceans, Defence Minister A K Antony on Thursday commissioned the first of the Shivalik-class multi-role frigate with stealth features.
The hard to detect warships will form a crucial component of the Indian Navy after getting commissioned. It is equipped with a mix of Indian, Russian, Israeli and Western weapons and sensors.
Director-General Naval Design Rear Admiral K N Vaidyanathan said earlier that the new design features give the ship enhanced operational capabilities in terms of survivability, stealth, sea keeping, ship handling and weapons.
The Shivalik-class vessels are being built entirely in India and have Club anti-ship missiles, Shtil surface-to-air missiles, Barak air and missile defence systems and RBU 6000 anti-submarine warfare rockets.
"The total indigenous efforts account for over 60 percent of ship cost. It also has stealth features against radar and heat seekers and through technical means its underwater signatures have also been reduced," Rear Admiral Vaidyanathan had said.
"The cost of building each Shivalik class frigate will be close to Rs 2,800 crore," Rear Admiral Vaidyanathan added.
The Shivalik is being built at the Mazagaon Dock Ltd (MDL) at Dockyard Road in Mumbai. The construction is under the massive modernisation that the Indian Navy is undertaking to increase its fleet strength.
The other two frigates of this class are named Satpura and Sahyadri. While Shivalik was launched in 2002, Satpura and Sahyadri were launched in 2004 and 2005, respectively. These ships are now undergoing sea trials and are named after hill ranges.
According to sources, the second of these ships is to be commissioned by the end of this year, and the other in the series in 2011.
The commissioning of Talwar-class frigates, which were designed and built in Russia, precedes these three Shivalik class ships.
The follow-on of the Shivalik class would be of Project 17 Alpha, under which a total of seven ships will be built.
Indian Navy's Directorate of Naval Design envisaged the project way back in 1997. The design, construction and equipment development for Shivalik is a watershed in 50 years of indigenous warship building efforts.