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Sub-continental sub: Another Indian submarine modernized in Russia

The Indian Navy's Sindhurakshak submarine is docked in Visakhapatnam. (Reuters / Kamal Kishore)

The Indian Navy’s Sindhurakshak submarine is docked in Visakhapatnam. (Reuters / Kamal Kishore)

Russia’s leading shipyard has finished deep modernization of yet another Indian submarine. Armed with latest multi-role missile system, radar and electronics, the sub promises to become the game-changing backbone of the Indian Navy.

­The ceremony of signing the transfer and acceptance act of the diesel-electric submarine INS Sindhurakshak (Sea giant) SSK Kilo Class has been conducted on January 26 in Severodvinsk.

The submarine has been undergoing complete overhaul and upgrade in Russia’s leading Zvezdochka (Starlet) shipyard in the town of Severodvinsk in Russia’s north since August 2010.

According to open sources the works’ cost of US$80 million included overhaul of submarine’s hull structures, installation of upgraded electronic warfare and weapons control systems, mounting of Indian-made sonar USHUS and radio communication systems.

Indian President Abdul Kalam waves from the inside of a Sindhurakshak naval submarine in Visakhapatnam. (Reuters / Kamal Kishore)
Indian President Abdul Kalam waves from the inside of a Sindhurakshak naval submarine in Visakhapatnam. (Reuters / Kamal Kishore)

The most important upgrade made is incorporation of Russian state-of–the-art Club-S multi-role missile system capable of eliminating targets at the distance of over 250km (in export variant).

Club S submarine-launched cruise missile family
3M-54E – anti-ship missile, 200km range, supersonic terminal speed, 200kg explosive warhead

3M-54E1 – anti-ship missile, 300km range, subsonic terminal speed, 400kg explosive warhead

3M-14E – land attack missile, 275km range, subsonic terminal speed, 400kg explosive warhead

91RE1 – anti-submarine missile, uses an anti-submarine torpedo on terminal stage

It is possible that later the submarine will be also armed with supersonic BrahMos cruise missile of Russian-Indian design.

INS Sindhurakshak (Type 877EKM in Russia, Sindhughosh-class in Indian Navy) was constructed in St. Petersburg’s Admiralteiskie Verfi shipyard in 1997. The submarine is designed to patrol and to protect naval communications, assault warships, enemy submarines, land targets and perform naval reconnaissance.

Overall 10 Kilo-class submarines were constructed in Russia’s shipyards for the Indian Navy from 1985-2000.

On January 29 the sub will start its long journey home. This is to be the first time an Indian Kilo-class sub will returning to its home naval base under the Arctic ice.

Since 1997, the Zvezdochka shipyard has already modernized four Soviet- and Russian-built Kilo-class submarines for the Indian Navy: Sinduvir, Sinduratna, Sindugosh and Sindhuvijay. INS Sindukirti, the fifth Kilo-class sub in India’s possession, is being repaired and modernized by Zvezdochka at her home base Vishakhapatnam, India.

Sea giant’s sword

From now on the primary weapon of the INS Sindhurakshak submarine, besides traditional torpedoes, will be a range of multi-purpose cruise missiles of the Club-S family (SS-N-27 Sizzler NATO classification) designed by the Novator missile design bureau in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, in the Ural Mountains.

Club-S cruise missile complex is capable of hitting sea surface targets, targets underwater, or eliminate objects on land. The complex has various missiles for different tasks, all of which can be fired from standard torpedo tubes submerged from the depth of maximum 40m.

Club-S missiles are not stealth, but on the terminal stage of the attack they all approach target on skimming altitude of a mere 5-10m, making their way below the level a modern warship’s radar. This feature makes them deadly for any existing target, for example 3M-54E1 version is allegedly capable of dealing an aircraft carrier.

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