India Receives Last of 3 Follow On Krivak III/Talwar Class Frigates from Russia

June 19/13: #3 inducted. INS Trikand is inducted as expected, in Kaliningrad, Russia. This finalizes this batch of follow-ons to the Talwar class. With schedule slippage of about a year, this batch seems to have unfolded more smoothly than its predecessor.

April 18/13: #3. finishes sea trials, which included missile engagement of a target flying 50m above sea level. She’s due for delivery in June 2013. India & Russia Report.

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Talwar class(click to view full) In July 2006, the Indian government announced that Russia would build 3 “stealth warships” for India under a Rs 5114 crore (INR 51.14 billion, then about $1.1 billion) contract signed in New Delhi. The contract actually covers 3 modified Krivak III/ Talwar Class frigates, as a follow-on to an earlier […]
INS Tabar

Talwar class
(click to view full)

In July 2006, the Indian government announced that Russia would build 3 “stealth warships” for India under a Rs 5114 crore (INR 51.14 billion, then about $1.1 billion) contract signed in New Delhi. The contract actually covers 3 modified Krivak III/ Talwar Class frigates, as a follow-on to an earlier $900 million purchase in 1997.

The Krivak III/ Talwar Class ships like INS Tabar are not really stealth warships, esp. by comparison to more modern designs like Singapore’s new Formidable Class frigates from France (a Lafayette Class derivative). They’re best described as mid-range multi-role frigates, with some stealth features and a potential emphasis on anti-submarine work. By mid-2013 they had all been commissioned by the Indian Navy.

The New Ships

BrahMos

PJ-10 BrahMos
(click to view full)

In July 2006, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee told a cabinet committee that the first ship would be delivered [in 2011], and the subsequent 2 within 12 months after that. That announcement also included the purchase of 28 “submarine-fired cruise missiles,” type unspecified.

The most likely possibility is the Russian Klub missile, which has encountered some reliability issues when test-fired from “upgraded” Indian Kilo Class submarines.

They’re also important to the 4,000t Talwar class, whose potential for a strong ASW role is partly derived from the anti-submarine capabilities of some Klub-N missiles>. Talwar class ships like the Navy’s existing INS Talwar (Sword), INS Trishul (Trident), and INS Tabar (Axe) can carry 14 vertically-launched Klub missiles, though the new Teg (Saber), Tarkash (Quiver), and Trikand (Bow) are fitted for 8 of the much larger supersonic BrahMos anti-ship missiles instead. They will be also equipped with a Russian 100mm gun, a Shtil air defense system (upgraded SA-N-7), 2 Kashtan SA-N-11 air defense gun/missile systems, 4 533-mm torpedo tubes, and a Ka-28 anti-submarine warfare helicopter.

Contrast: Pakistan

INS Tabar

The competition?
(click to view full)

In August 2005 Pakistan gave China a $700-million order for 4 new 3,100t Type 053H3 Jiangwei II Class/ F-22P frigates and 6 Z-9C helicopters (a Chinese copy of the French AS 365N Dauphin II), albeit with a mix of Chinese and western equipment [Source: eDefense, now offline.] The F-22P Frigates were explicitly described as a counter to India’s Talwar Class, and were sold via soft loans from China.

F-22P deliveries were expected between 2009-2014, and deliveries arrived on schedule. PNS Zulfiquar (Sword), the first ship of class, was formally handed over in July 30/09, and arrived in Karachi in September 2009, while the 3rd ship was delivered a year later.

Key Events

June 19/13: #3 inducted. INS Trikand is inducted as expected, in Kaliningrad, Russia. This finalizes this batch of follow-ons to the Talwar class. With schedule slippage of about a year, this batch seems to have unfolded more smoothly than its predecessor.

April 18/13: #3. finishes sea trials, which included missile engagement of a target flying 50m above sea level. She’s due for delivery in June 2013. India & Russia Report.

INS Trikand tested and inducted

Dec 30/12: #2. INS Tarkash arrives in Mumbai.

INS Tabar

F44 INS Tabar
(click to view full)

June 22/12: #1. INS Teg arrives in Mumbai, a bit behind schedule. RIA Novosti.

April 27/12: #1. Teg is scheduled for handover over to the Indian Navy, at a ceremony in Russia’s Yantar shipyard.

March 5/12 – April 7/12: #1. Teg finishes the sea phase of acceptance trials in the Baltic Sea. RusNavy.

Sept 1/11: #1. Russia begins sea trials for Teg. Delivery to India isn’t expected until the beginning of 2012, to be followed by the Tarkash later in 2012, and finally the Trikand in 2013. Rediff News.

Aug 24/11: Indian Defence Minister Antony confirms that overall delivery of this 2nd lot of Talwar class stealth frigates for Indian Navy from Russia has been delayed by 14 months.

“The delays are primarily on account of non-availability of adequate skilled manpower at the shipyard to undertake concurrent construction of these vessels and the delays in delivery of Russian-origin equipment.” PTI.

May 25/11: #3. Russia’s Yantar shipyard launches the Trikand at its Kaliningrad shipyard. It’s the 3rd ship in this order. Rus Navy.

Dec 16/10: Can you float alone? RIA Novosti reports that the frigate project is stalled owing to cash flow issues at Yantar, who has asked Russia’s state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, for an additional $100 million. Yantar Director General Igor Orlov says that the shortfall is the value-added tax (VAT) amount for the $1.6 billion contract, which will only be refunded after the frigates have been supplied to India.

Meanwhile, a lack of funds has delayed construction, putting the 2011-2012 delivery dates in doubt. Mindful of the problems and price increases faced by other Russian defense contracts in India, a Rosoboronexport source said they wanted to avoid a price increase here, using domestic reserves, including those of Russia’s state-controlled United Shipbuilding Corporation, instead.

June 23/10: Russia’s Yantar shipyard launches the Tarkash at its Kaliningrad shipyard. It’s the 2nd ship in this order. RIA Novosti.

Nov 27/09: #1. Russia’s Yantar shipyard launches the 1st frigate in this order, the future INS Teg. Sea trials are expected in 2010, with delivery of all 3 frigates during 2011-2012. RIA Novosti.

Nov 10/09: RIA Novosti reports that the Yantar shipyard in Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad is planning to float out the first of the 3 Talwar class frigates being built for the Indian Navy at the end of November. Spokesman Sergei Mikhailov adds that “Floating out does not mean that the sea trials will start right away. We still have to carry out post-construction work. The trials will start in 2010.”

The shipyard still intends to deliver all 3 vessels to India in 2011-2012.

March 6/09: India’s Business Times reports that an overzealous US State Department bureaucrat appears to have created a serious delay in the related Project 17 program, after ordering GE to stop work on the program. Unlike the Krivak III Class, Shivalik Class ships use 2 American LM2500 turbines in place of Russian designs.

If India is lucky, the delay will be only 2 months. If the State Department’s actions cause India to miss sea trials due to the monsoon season, the delay could be many months longer. In the end, all the State Department may succeed in doing is jeopardizing the chances of other American companies under consideration for Indian defense buys. Read “US State Dept. Throws A Wrench Into Exports, Allied Shipbuilding” for more.

Oct 16/08: RIA Novosti quotes the Yantar shipyard in Kaliningrad to say that the 2nd Project 11356 frigate for India under the 2006 deal is more than 50% complete, and would be finished by March 2009. The final vessel in that deal is due to be delivered to India by 2011-12.

June 11/08: Third keel laid under this contract. Source

Dec 24/07: India Defence relays a story [link now offline] which suggests that state-run arms export agency Rosoboronexport may be negotiating with Indian authorities for the construction of a fresh lot of 3 “stealth frigates.”

From the reports, it would appear that negotiations are for an order over and above the follow-on order for 3 Talwar Class frigates – either more Project 17 Shivalik Class ships, or the initial Project 17A contract. As with all such reports concerning India, however, a wait-and-see attitude is advised.

Nov 27/07: Second keel laid under this contract.

July 27/07: First keel laid under this contract, at the Pribaltiyskaya shipyard in Kaliningrad.

December 2006: India issues an RFI for “stealth frigates.” They are looking to acquire up to 7 ships under “Project 17A”, along with some level of joint development and technology transfer.

These ships could be modified “Project 17” Shivalik Class frigates, which are an enlarged and enhanced design derived from the Kirvak IIIs. On the other hand, the RFI was issued to a number of foreign shipbuilders, raising the possibility that Project 17A ships could use an entirely different base platform. Read “India’s Project 17-A Stealth Frigates.”

July 14/06: Initial announcement of the contract. According to Yantar JSC, however, the dollar cost of the ships differs from initial Indian accounts, and sits at $1.6 billion.

Additional Readings

* Bharat Rakshak – Modified Krivak III Class

* Bharat Rakshak – Talwar (Krivak III) Class

* Bharat Rakshak – Project 17 (Shivalik) Class

* GlobalSecurity – Project 17 P17 Shivalik Class Frigate

* DID – India’s Project 17-A Stealth Frigates. These could involve further modifications to the Krivak Class, or could be based on a completely different design.

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