This frame grab taken from video footage provided by Indian broadcaster NWS early Aug. 14 shows a fire at the Indian Naval Dockyard in Mumbai. A diesel-powered Indian submarine exploded and sank there, leaving 18 sailors missing and the Navy counting the cost of a major setback in its ambitious modernization program. (NWS via AFP)
NEW DELHI — Following the fire on the Indian Navy’s frontline submarine, the Indian Defence Ministry is contemplating fast-tracking a second midlife upgrade for its Russian-made Kilo-class submarines in order to extend the life of its inventory by 15 years.
After the fire on the Sindhurakshak, in which the submarine partially sank, the Navy is left with only 13 conventional submarines, including four aging German-made HDW submarines. MoD sources said talks have already begun with the Russians for a second upgrade of the Kilos.
An Indian team has visited Russia to explore the idea of an upgrade, sources said, but no details are available. The Sindhurakshak arrived in India in April after an upgrade in Russia.
Of the 13 submarines, only six or seven are operational.
Russia has built 10 Kilo-class submarines for the Indian Navy and has already overhauled five of them: the Sindhuvir, Sindhuratna, Sindhughosh and Sindhuvijay. Sindhurakshak is damaged beyond repair, Indian Navy sources said.
The Indian Navy is upgrading the four HDW Type 1500 submarines at a cost of more than $300 million. Two of the German submarines have been upgraded, while the remaining two are under refit at Naval Dockyard Mumbai.
Two of the four HDW submarines were built in the 1980s at Mazagon Docks Limited Mumbai, and the remaining two were built at HDW facilities in Germany.
After HDW was blacklisted in 1987, the assembly line of Mazagon Docks Limited was no longer used until the French Scorpene submarine project was revived in 2005.
The refit will involve replacement of the weapon control system, data link system, torpedoes and missiles on the submarines.