How the Indian Navy is emerging as a potent naval force on the planet

Indian Navy, the maritime wing of the Indian Armed Forces have been guarding India’s sea borders and its economic zones at the vast Indian Ocean Region (IOR) quite beautifully for the last 70 years. It has seen lot of ups and downs during this 70 years long journey. It has successfully operated for India in the wars of 1971 and later on several occasions. It has demonstrated its capability as the Premier force for India to maintain its presence across the region. It is the Fifth largest Navy in the world at present, but it is soon to become the 3rd largest in the world with its growing capabilities, the growing number of platforms and manpower. With almost 295 ships, 251 aircrafts and almost 60,000 naval personnel operating  over the 9 major ports and bases across the country and at sea, it is the largest and the foremost naval force at South East Asia and Indian sub contingent. In this context, it is bound to conflict with the rising naval prowess of another Asian Giant and probably the world’s 2nd foremost military power China. China too has ambition of becoming great maritime power just like the United States, to dominate the sea routes. China’s rapid increase in defence budget fuelled by its rapid economic rise is their power which is driving their naval prowess very fast which no country in the world can afford and even dream of. But India is standing proudly in front of the Dragon with its growing military power and with a booming economy.

So, the question arises that ‘Can India compete the Chinese maritime power at sea ??’ If we analyse the naval build up of India carefully, then it is very clear that it is not going to surrender to the Chinese. It is not only preparing to counter the Chinese but it is preparing to counter any best naval force on the planet too. India aspires to become a global power just like China, and for that it needs a strong Navy which it has realised of late. It is building 41 ships at various shipyards across the country indigenously which is a very big boost to India’s economy. It is planning to build more in future and all ships are of either Destroyers, Frigates, Corvettes, Aircraft Carriers, Submarines or Amphibious class that means it is increasing its combat vessels fleet, though large number of its present ships need immediate replacement but with the gradual increase of ships construction across the country, the shipbuilding industry of India will become mature and will become more efficient, powerful and strong enough to take multiple projects at the same time. With the present Modi Government is trying to boost their ‘Make In India’ campaign, shipbuilding industry will form a major part of that. Let’s take a look what India is building for its Navy to make it a global blue water force :-

Vikrant Class Aircraft Carriers (building 1, planned 1): India is building Indigenous Aircraft Carrier-1 or IAC-1 which is named INS Vikrant now, on its own at Cochin Shipyard Limited. This is a big achievement by India as it has become only the 6th country in the world to design and build aircraft carriers of this size on its own. INS Vikrant with a displacement of 40,000 tonnes will be able to 35 aircrafts among which 25 will be fighter aircrafts (Mig-29K & Naval Tejas) and remaining 10 will be ASW and reconnaissance helicopters.

India is going to build its 2nd IAC or IAC-2 which is named INS Vishal too. It will be a much larger carrier in size, displacement and capability. It will have a displacement of 65,000 tonnes and it will be powered by a nuclear reactor. It will be a CATOBAR carrier and will have the latest EMALS technology to launch fighter jets over its deck. It will carry more than 50 aircrafts within it, among which 35-40 may be fighter jets including under development HAL AMCA, DRDO AURA and Naval Tejas.

INS Vishal

INS Vishal will be able to accommodate up to 55 aircraft (35 fixed-wing combat aircraft and 20 rotary wing aircraft), launched using a catapult assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) aircraft launch system, incorporating U.S. defense contractor’s General Atomics’ new electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) technology.

The INS Vishal will be the first non-Western aircraft carrier equipped with the complex CATOBAR launch capability. CATOBAR aircraft launch systems put less strain on the airframe of planes during takeoff reducing maintenance cost in the long run and also allows carrier-based aircraft to carry a heavier weapons payload. Furthermore, CATOBAR launch systems increase the sortie rates of carrier air wings by allowing a faster landing and takeoff rate.

The Indian Navy’s preference for the CATOBAR aircraft launch system indicates that the new warship will in all likelihood not carry MiG-29K Fulcrum fighter jets, the current mainstay of India’s naval combat aviation.

ins kolkata

Visakhapatnam and Kolkata class Destroyers (4 building, 1 under sea trial, 2 commissioned) : these two class of Destroyers will be the most potent one among the world Destroyer classes for their superb firepower. Kolkata class and its follow-on Visakhapatnam class destroyers will be used to guard Indian Navy aircraft carrier battle groups and for offensive role both. With a displacement of almost 8,000 fully loaded, these destroyers can single handedly destroy many incoming battle groups at sea. Its main armament is world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile BrahMos and it is defended by a equally potent SAM Barak-8 which is jointly developed by India and Israel. It is equipped with one of the world’s most potent MF-STAR radar which can detect any objects upto 250 and it has 360 degree surveillance facility which is a very potent thing. Above this, these destroyers are equipped with other small radars and sonars too for second line defence and other defensive systems to defend the ship against any type attack as a second line defence after Barak-8 SAM. If it is going together with 2 more Indian frigates which too are fitted with 16 BrahMos missiles each, then even a AEGIS class destroyers or equipped ships can not survive in front of these two Indian destroyer classes, that’s the firepower of these two class. These ships are equipped with torpedoes and other weapons systems too.

 shealth frigate

Project-17A Frigates (7 planned) : these frigates along with Kolkata and Visakhapatnam class destroyers, Talwar class frigates and Shivalik class frigates will form the core strike group of the Indian Navy in future. It will be one of the most powerful frigates in the world. With a leaner design and almost 7,000 tonnes displacement, it will be no less than world’s best destroyer classes. It too will be equipped with BrahMos missile as its main offensive weapon along with Nirbhay LRCM for long range attack. It too will have Barak-8 SAM system to defend itself against any type of enemy attack. These ships are equipped with torpedoes and other weapons systems too.

Shivalik class Frigates (3 commissioned) : These are indigenous Project-17 class frigates of the Indian Navy. It is considered to be one of the best frigates in the world for its firepower and capability. These ships are equipped with two best anti-ship missiles in the world which includes BrahMos and 3M-54E klub. These ships have Barak-1 SAM and Shtil-1 SAM both for better interception of enemy missiles and aircrafts. These ships are equipped with torpedoes and other weapons systems too.


Talwar class Frigates (6 commissioned, 3 planned) : Backbone for the Indian Navy combat fleet at present and will remain so in future too. It is built in Russia under Project 1135.6 class which is a modified version of Russian Krivak-III class frigates. These frigates too are equipped with BrahMos missiles along with Russian 3M-54E Klub anti ship missiles as its primary weapons. It has Shtil-1 SAM to defend the ships from enemy attack. These ships are equipped with torpedoes and other weapons systems too.

 kamorta class

Kamorta class (Project-28) and Project-28A ASW Corvettes (2 commissioned, 2 building, 8 planned) : These are one of the finest anti submarine warfare ships and corvettes in the world. Built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), these ships have all the capability to be recognised as a frigate. It has displacement of over 3,400 tonnes with variety of weapons which includes 1 × OTO Melara 76 mm Super Rapid Gun Mount (SRGM), 2 × AK-630M close-in weapon system(CIWS), 2 × RBU-6000 (IRL) anti-submarine rocket launcher, 4 × 533 mm Torpedo tubes. It is mainly an anti submarine warfare corvettes that’s why it doesn’t include any anti ship missiles but in future Indian Navy will include BrahMos on it for anti ship attack role. Then, these ships will have more firepower and will act as dual purpose ship.

Ins arihant

Arihant class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN’s) (1 commissioned, 1 under sea trial, 2 building, 2 more planned) : Arihant class SSBN is the first SSBN class which is active under a country which is out of 5 permanent members of the UN Security council. India has become only the 6th country in the world to posses a SSBN which can launch ballistic missiles from its silos. Arihant class submarines are powered by a pressurised nuclear water reactor of 83 MegaWatt category. First vessel of this class INS Arihant which is said to be commissioned into the Navy in March this year, has 4 missile hatches, which can carry either 8 K-15 SLBM with a range of 750-1,500 km or 4 K-4 SLBM with a range of 3,500 km. It is equipped with torpedoes too. The next vessels of this class will be much larger in size and will have more missile hatches than INS Arihant. 2nd vessel INS Aridhaman is said to be launched for sea trial already with commissioning is expected in 2017-end, the next planned 4 vessels will be inducted within 2024.

First one, the INS Arihant is already active. The second one, INS Aridhaman is in trials and is expected to be ready by 2018 , while the unnamed third one by 2020–21.

So India adds 8 more Submarines in the next 4–5 years till 2020–21, taking the total submarine force to 23.


A follow-on class of 6 SSBNs codenamed S5, almost twice as big as the Arihant-class, was also approved for development. These will be able to carry up to 12 K5 intercontinental ballistic missiles with MIRV warheads.

India Navy already has started working on the successor of Aridhaman Ballistic Missile Class Submarine at least a decade ago and new larger Ballistic Missile Class which will be designated as S5 and will be as big as Ohio class nuclear-powered submarines currently used by the United States Navy. It is unclear how many S5 sister class ships will be developed at this point in time but the construction of the new class of SSBN is yet to commence and it is likely will go on the floor for nearly a decade from now.

Indian Navy is concentrating on the development of current ssbn of arihant class that will give Indian Navy at least 4 submarines & after its completion around 2022-23 and then indian navy will start developing S5 nuclear Submarine.If the program sticks to its schedules and doesn’t face any delays then tentatively the first lead submarine will be ready for launch by end of next decade.


Indigenous SSN class (6 planned) : This SSN class will be first indigenous SSN class by India just like Arihant class SSBN’s. This SSN will be similar in size and capacity of Arihant class but it will have a more powerful nuclear pressurised reactor than Arihant, because SSN needs speed and maneuverability which requires more power and for that a more powerful reactor. Bhaba Atomic Research Centre which built Arihant’s reactor, has already started to built the new one for this SSN class. These SSN’s will have anti submarine torpedoes and anti ship and land attack cruise missiles like BrahMos and Nirbhay as their main weapon.

The SSN are designed to track down and defeat both, the SSBN and the enemy aggression. These submarines are used in the attack of particular targets on land by the launch of the fast missiles by use of the torpedo tubes.

The Submersible Ship Nuclear carries the cruise missile with explosives which are used to attack the assailants within the shores. The other purpose of the submarine ship is to conduct surveillance, perform and complete intelligence missions, so they can offer aid in highly classified operations. The size of this ship is moderately big. The SSN is used to make attacks to assailants in the nearby distance. It is considered war prone and looks for enemy ships to destroy them

scorpene submarine

Scorpeane class SSK’s (1 commissioned, 2 under sea trial,3 building, 3 planned) : This is the first diesel electric submarine India has purchased after 3 decades. Scorpeane class submarines are considered to be one of the best in the world under non nuclear submarines category. This is equipped with heavy weight indigenous Varunastra torpedoes and Exocet anti ship missiles as its main weapon. These submarines can stay under water for long time just like nuclear submarines because these are equipped with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) which enables a diesel electric submarine to stay under water for longer time.

Project-75I class SSK’s (6 planned) : Govt of India has sanctioned the funds for the development of Project-75I class diesel electric submarines which will be equipped with AIP modules for long duration of under water patrol and will be equipped with Varunastra torpedoes, BrahMos anti ship cruise missile and Nirbhay land attack long range cruise missile as its main weaponry. 6 vessels will be constructed in selected Indian shipyards through bidding process which includes joint venture with a foreign firm and their submarine design.

The 6 Project 75I and 6 Nuclear Attack Submarines will replace the 13 Shishumar and Sindhughosh Class Submarines in the Navy. So, say around 2037, 20 years down the line, the Indian Navy will posses around 26 Modern Submarines including 14 Nuclear Powered ones.

Naval Fighter Jets for Carriers

The Indian Navy has officially issued a request for information (RFI) for a new carrier-based multirole warplane on January 17, according to IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly.

The Indian Navy intends to procure 57 naval fighter aircraft from a foreign supplier for its burgeoning fleet of aircraft carriers. As with previous defense deals, foreign aircraft makers are expected to assemble part of the new fleet of naval fighter jets in India under Indian Prime Minister’s Modi’s Make in India initiative.

The RFI lays out in detail the requirements for the new aircraft including “be capable of operations during day and night, and in all weather conditions; and be suitable for shipborne air defense, air-to-surface, ‘buddy-buddy’ aerial refueling, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, and other unspecified roles,” IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly notes. In terms of weapons systems the Indian Navy is looking for an aircraft that can carry four beyond visual-range air-to-air missiles (AAM), two shorter range AAMs and is fitted with a gun. The aircraft should also be capable of carrying strike weapons next to AAMs.

All these vessels are bound to be inducted within 2030 and by then Indian Navy will become one of the strongest naval forces on the planet. These are just baby steps towards building a world class navy which can compete the super powers in the world, just wait and watch, more are coming soon. Jai Hind !!

You may also like...