Indian Navy Gets $2.2 Billion Boost; Set To Acquire Stealth Frigates From Russia

The Indian Navy has received a clearance for $2.2-billion stealth frigates deal with Russia. This will let the Indian Navy obtain four new warships from Russia. Apart from the six operating Talwar-class frigates, the new warships will have several Indian-made types of equipment onboard, including sensors and communications. This is bound to add muscle to India’s Naval strength in the Indian Ocean region?

India had significantly upgraded its defence ties with the United States through the Comcasa (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) two weeks ago. Now, the Modi government has cleared the way for one of the biggest purchases from Russia — $2.2-billion stealth frigates deal.

The agreement will allow the country to acquire four new warships from Russia for the Indian Navy, which will be signed during a summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi in October. Efforts are on to add the finishing touches to the outline of the deal.

The deal had been delayed for long. It is to procure Project 11356 or advanced Talwar-class frigates. This will take account of building two of the ships at the Goa Shipyard, while the rest will be bought directly from Russia’s Yantar shipyard.

According to the sources, the clearance procedure before the signing is at the end stage and that India could make payments through the rupee-rouble route.

The financial sanctions by the United States have complicated the purchase of weapons from Moscow as Indian banks are unable to transfer money to defence companies in Russia. To pay in Indian rupee instead of the standard US dollar, is being worked out as analternative arrangement, to partly deal with the matter.

The deal is being managed as a ‘2+2’ scheme where technology will be transferred to Goa Shipyard to build two of the frigates from the beginning. The other two will be delivered faster — probably within two years — as the framework of the ships have already been faked for a Russian Navy order that got stalled following the Ukrainian crisis. The ship has been designed to work with Ukraine-made gas turbines.

While there were initial discussions to involve the Indian private sector to build two of the ships domestically, the government took a decision to nominate the stateowned Goa Shipyard as it had spare capacity at hand. The Indian-made warships are expected to cost 30-50% more than the direct Russian import due to the cost of building infrastructure and transfer of technology.

India and Russia had signed an intergovernmental agreement to proceed with the deal in October 2016, but price negotiations and technical consultations, which also involved the Indian shipyard, delayed the final clearance, which could be one of the big takeaways from the Modi-Putin summit that is scheduled to take place in Delhi on October 5.

India already operates six of the Talwar-class frigates, but the new four to be ordered will be more advanced versions. The warships are to be fitted with the Brahmos missile system and will have significant changes from the older ships as the Navy will have several Indian-made equipment onboard, including sensors and communications. They will add to India’s muscle in the Indian Ocean region.

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