Post link 28 October 2014, 3:15
Oct 26, 2014 20:00 UTC by Defense Industry Daily staff

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India’s submarine fleet currently consists of 16 boats: 10 Russian SSK Kilo (Sindhugosh) Class, 4 locally built SSK U209 (Shishumar) Class, a leased nuclear-powered Improved Akula Class SSN from Russia (INS Chakra), and its own INS Arihant SSBN. Most of the Kilos have been modernized, but readiness rates for India’s existing submarine fleet sits below 40%, and the U209s will have trouble lasting much beyond 2015. With Pakistan acquiring modern submarines, and Chinese submarine building exploding, expanding India’s submarine fleet became an obvious national priority.

In 2005, India confirmed that it would buy 6 Franco-Spanish Scorpene diesel submarines, with an option for 6 more and extensive technology transfer agreements. Unfortunately, 7 years after that deal was signed, “Project 75″ has yet to field a single submarine. A poor Indian procurement approach, and state-run inefficiency, are pushing the country’s entire submarine force toward an aging crisis. This DID FOCUS article covers the Scorpene deal and its structure, adds key contracts and new developments, and offers insights into the larger naval picture within and beyond India.

The SSK Scorpene Class diesel-electric fast attack submarine was jointly developed by DCN of France and Navantia of Spain, and incorporates advancements that stem from being developed about 10 years later than DCN’s Agosta 90 Class. Many of the Scorpene’s internal systems and weapons, however, are shared with Pakistan’s Improved Agosta 90B.

Displacing 1,565 metric tonnes, the standard CM-2000 Scorpene Class is 71.7m (219 feet) long with a submerged speed of over 20 knots, and submerged range at 100% battery usage and 4 knots speed of 134 hours or 536 miles. This new submarine class incorporates a high level of system redundancy to achieve an average 240 days at sea per year per submarine, and the endurance to undertake a 50 day patrol before being resupplied. In addition, its maximum diving depth is 300 meters (about 1,000 feet), giving the commander good tactical freedom for a conventional submarine.




The Scorpene’s SUBTICS combat management system, with up to 6 multifunction common consoles and a centrally situated tactical table, is co-located with the platform-control facilities. The vessel’s sonar suite includes a long-range passive cylindrical array, an intercept sonar, active sonar, distributed array, flank array, a high-resolution sonar for mine and obstacle avoidance and a towed array. Each Scorpene submarine features 6 bow-mounted 533mm torpedo tubes, and stores 18 weapons divided between torpedoes, missiles, and mines (stacked, up to 30).

India was leaning toward Finmeccanica’s Black Shark, the same heavyweight torpedo used in Chile’s Scorpene subs, but that decision has been put on hold by corruption allegations. Fortunately, a contract for the MBDA SM-39 Exocet was signed along with the original submarine contract. The Exocet SM 39 variant is launched from a submarine’s torpedo tubes using a VSM (Vehicule Sous Marin), a self-propelled and guided container that will maneuver before surfacing so as not to reveal the position of the submarine. Once it surfaces, the Exocet missile leaves the VSM and proceeds to the target like a normal surface variant of the missile.

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In addition to these regular weapons, the Scorpene platform also offers advanced capabilities for mine warfare, intelligence gathering and special operations.

Scorpene subs can hold a total company of 31-36 men, with a standard watch team of 9. The control room and the living quarters are mounted on an elastically supported and acoustically isolated floating platform, really a ship within the ship.

The India order brought the number of committed Scorpene submarine sales on the international market to 10. Scorpene orders worldwide now sit at 14, and include Chile (2 O’Higgins class CM-2000 with split Navantia/DCN production, both delivered); Malaysia (2 with split Navantia/DCN production); and now India (6 from DCN-Armaris and local manufacture, 3 each CM-2000 and AM-2000 AIP, delivery expected 2015-2020). Brazil would later undertake its own project, which will build 4 SSK Scorpenes and 1 nuclear-powered SSN fast attack submarine.

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