July 22, 2015

Indian Company Signs Contract for Kilo Submarine Maintenance.

A Russian designed older version Kilo class submarine. The export version is known as Project 877EKM by Russia's Rubin Design Bureau. India has 9, known as the Sindhughosh class.

Indian press articles on submarines too often report the Indian Government's vague plans to build X number of nuclear submarines over some indeterminate time period. The article below is different - much more down to Earth. The deal below with Russia could be interpreted as being part of Russia's campaign to sell 6 Amur/Ladas (with AIP and VLS) to India for India's future submarine competition Project 75(I).

Ajai Shukla for India's Business Standard, July 22, 2015 reports http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/anil-ambani-signs-splashy-russian-joint-venture-for-submarine-overhaul-115072200015_1.html :

"Anil Ambani [pictured] signs splashy Russian joint venture for submarine overhaul
Projects Rs 31,000 crore [US$4.87 Billion] of business from Indian and regional navies

In a first for a private Indian defence company, Co Ltd (PDOC) announced on Tuesday a joint venture (JV) with Russia's overhaul yard. This positions PDOC nicely for overhauling India's nine Russian-origin Kilo-class [known as Sindhughosh class in India] submarines, and several identical submarines operated by other regional navies.

In an announcement in Mumbai on Tuesday, PDOC stated: "The indicative value of work proposed to be undertaken by the proposed JV is approx. (sic) Rs 11,000 crore." [US$1.7 Billion]

PDOC also mentioned "potential additional revenues of approx. Rs 20,000 crore" [US$3.1 Billion] from the navies of Iran, Algeria and Vietnam.

A submarine undergoes an overhaul or refit - termed "medium refit and life certification" (MRLC) - every 10-15 years in its 30-year service life. This involves upgrading weapons, sensors and communications systems; and inspecting, repairing and replacing worn out parts of a submarine's two hulls (an inner "pressure hull" and an outer hull).

Refitting a Kilo-class (or 877 EKM) [Project 877 = older class Kilos, EKM = export version]  submarine in India offers advantages like cheaper labour costs and saving on transportation to Russia and back. It also provides opportunities for indigenising sub-systems in the submarine, and develops expertise.

PDOC's statement says that Zvyozdochka will "provide complete technical assistance and support to the JV, including inter alia for enhancement of infrastructure at the PDOC facilities, training of engineers, etc. PDOC technicians will also be closely associated with the first refit to be carried out in Russia."

On August 29, 2014, the defence ministry had cleared a Rs 4,800-crore [US$750 Million] refit for six submarines. Mazagon Dock Ltd, Mumbai, was to refit [two German-origin HDW 209 Shishumar class submarines]. Meanwhile, Zvyozdochka and Naval Dockyard, Mumbai, would each refit two kilo-class submarines.

It is unclear whether the defence ministry is committed to the new venture between PDOC and Zvyozdochka; and, if so, whether it would change the arrangement it has already cleared. It is also unclear whether the defence ministry would disregard the experience already developed in two Indian shipyards - Naval Dockyard, Visakhapatnam, and Hindustan Shipyard Ltd, Visakhapatnam (HSL) - which have refitted one Kilo-class submarine each. Furthermore, other Indian shipyards, including Larsen & Toubro, are competing for a chunk of the submarine overhaul business.

HSL, especially, has had a bitter experience with Zvyozdochka, reported by this newspaper (September 2, 2014, 'Russia delayed sub refit to weaken shipyard?'), in which the overhaul of a Kilo-class vessel, INS Sindhukirti, dragged on for nine years. Senior HSL officials made a strong case to suggest that Zvyozdochka experts deliberately prolonged the refit by ordering unnecessary work, to eliminate HSL from future Indian submarine refits.

Now officials from HSL and other shipyards allege that Zvyozdochka has chosen to partner PDOC, a new player in the market, to comprehensively control the refit programme, which the Russians would be unable to do with a more experienced Indian shipyard.

Rivals point out that PDOC has never produced a single naval combat vessel of any complexity. It is true that the shipyard is long overdue on delivering a Rs 2,500-crore [US$393 Million] order for five Naval Offshore Patrol Vessels. Even so, Anil Ambani's has recently thrown its weight behind the shipyard, acquiring it in March from Nikhil Gandhi of Sea King Infrastructure Ltd. Ambani paid Rs 819 crore for an 18 per cent stake, and is committed to making a public offer for another 26 per cent of the shipyard.

Ambani is gung-ho about PDOC's prospects. At a seminar in Delhi on July 16, he spelled out an expansive vision of Pipavav Shipyard as a "Global Centre of Excellence" that would build warships of all kinds, from aircraft carriers to frigates to submarines.

Claiming that Pipavav Shipyard had assets worth over Rs 10,000 crore [US$1.57 Billion], Ambani played up its impressive shipbuilding facilities, including "the largest dry dock in the country and second-largest in the world", Ambani said he would invest another Rs 5,000 crore [US$790 Million] in the shipyard.
If Ambani's PDOC lacks experience, Zvyozdochka has that aplenty. Established in 1954, it has overhauled or refurbished more than 120 submarines and 90 warships. It remains to be seen how much of that experience and hold over the market it is willing to transfer to PDOC."


Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
What I think Russia is trying to do is make India their Regional hub for Kilo Submarines and even allow India to License manufacture and produce Kilo class Submarines.

Anonymous said...

Can the Kilo's Surface-To-Air Missiles be fired while submerged?

If so, then the USN has good reason to keep its P-8 aircraft at high altitude while sub-hunting.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Australia, India, Japan, Russia, Canada and USA have strong interests on oceans: i) South Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and Southern Sea for Australia, ii) Indian Ocean for India, iii) Northern/East Pacific Oceans and East China Sea for Japan, iv) Northern Pacific Ocean and for Arctic Sea for Russia and Canada, v) Whole Pacific Ocean and Arctic Sea for USA. These countries have respected other’s interests after World War II, this is international order. But, now China is challenging this order. China is trying to share Whole Pacific Ocean with USA, and sends group of ships and submarines to Arctic Sea and Indian Ocean, respectively. And it is obvious that China will request new interest in Southern Sea. As China is becoming very strong, we should corporate together to defend our existing interests. So purchasing Russian submarine by Viet Nam or India is not against our national interests. Putin’s behaviors in East Europe are heavily criticized, but that is Europe’ issue which European and Russian should overcome. If Asia has same trouble with China, no European Countries helps us at all. I deeply commiserate with MH17 victims and their family/friends.


Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

It is possible India could build Kilos.

However given India wants AIP and VLS in the 6 Project 75(I) future subs Russia would need to do a great deal of design and testing to incorporate these new additions.

Every part of the Kilo (it could be renamed "Amur") would need to be altered and rebalanced.



Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [at July 22, 2015 at 4:39 PM]

I think the Kilo captain would want to deploy Strela-3 or Igla SAMs while the Kilo is submerged - hence less vulnerable to an attacking aircraft or helicopter.

http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/kilo877/ indicates "The submarine has a launcher for eight Strela-3 or Igla surface-to-air missiles."

So I think the Kilos SAMs might be in a pod placed in one of the torpedo tubes. Once each missile is ejected (gas pressure or piston) then each SAM rises to the surface in a small pod then a one or two stage launch process ignites the rocket motor.

Some readers would have a more certain idea.



Peter Coates said...

Hi S

Certainly there are common interests between Australia, India, Japan, Russia, Canada and USA that China does not not flex its military muscle against international and regional interests.

One major issue is "What acts by China should be opposed?"

1. If China blocks international airspace or sea area to shipping/aircraft then countries should oppose that. But should countries go to the extreme of war?

2. If China takes over a small sea area with known oil reserves under it AND Japan also claims that area - Should countries fight China over oil that is not yet being extracted?

3. As China grows in economic power does it deserve more sea space?

Yes I agree that Vietnamese subs from Russia or from other countries are beneficial for the West if these subs are containing and deterring Chinese power.



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Answer 1 Australia, India, Japan, Russia, Canada and USA should corporate to prevent China from committing silly behaviors. International conflicts should be solved by the International Law, not by war. We must respect rule of the International Law.

Answer 2 No country wants to get involved troubles between China and Japan. Japan and China should try to fix problem in the framework of the International Law.

Answer 3 We never waive our existing national interests. For example, if China requests Russia to share the Arctic Sea, Russian will become furious.


Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Coates:

I wasn't sure if the Kilo's SAMs consisted of a shoulder launcher kept in the Sub's
arms locker, or if they were were mast-mounted, like the old Blowpipe-based SLAM
(Submarine Launched Airflight Missile) system:


The sub-launched SAM concept has been around for awhile, but navies have never been
too keen on the idea, since launching one would give away the Sub's location.

Nonetheless, the idea resurfaces from time to time (pun intended) .....

For awhile, the USN was interested in using the SIAM (Self-Initiated Anti-Aircraft
Missile) from submarines. This was known as SUBADS (Submarine Air-Defense System):


More recently, the USN has tested the AIM-9X for this role:


Meanwhile, Germany has been working on a Sub-launched SAM called IDAS (Interactive
Defence and Attack System for Submarines):


Weapon systems like this may be part of the reason why the USN wants its P-8
aircraft to stay at high altitudes while sub-hunting.

Note that the USN's P-8s lack a Magnetic Anamoly Detector (MAD) in the tail.

If the USN does decide MAD is necessary, it will probably be deployed on a small
UAV, so that the P-8 can hunt subs magnetically while staying above the envelope of
small SAM systems:


Peter Coates said...

Hi S

International Law is of course important.

But when a country does not respect International Law what can countries do? For example China is turning South China Sea islands (it doesn't own) into air and sea bases.



Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [at July 24, 2015 at 2:36 AM]

As well as having systems for submerged firing of SAMs (or SLAMs) Kilo's and other SSKs could indeed have MANPAD SAMs handy if caught on the surface.

Also the French have considered a submarine launched Mistral https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mistral_(missile)#Submarine_Air_Defence_Weapon - even fired from the mast in this gripping Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIGl42ELB_A .

Thanks for all those links and your descriptions. I'll turn them into a future post.



Anonymous said...

The French were also working on a missile called Polyphem, including a Submarine-
launched version called Triton:



"A submarine-borne configuration would for the first time give submarines the
capability of defending themselves against ASW helicopters."

But this program was cancelled.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [at July 25, 2015 at 4:36 AM]

Looks like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphem_(missile) was very much a German and French project.

I'll include these possible SLAM missiles in a future article.



Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Coates!

In addition to the Sub-launched Mistral (Mast-Mounted) that you mentioned, the
French also are working on a torpedo-tube-launched MICA:



"The underwater vehicle version comprises a torpedo-like capsule (the VSM)
containing a medium-range (20 km) Mica missile that is tube-launchable at any
depth. The capsule is similar to the type developed for submarine-launched SM 39
Exocet anti-ship missiles, a proven system which exists for 35 years now. The
missile is based on VL Mica (launched from surface vessels) which has already been
procured by several navies."

You can see a video of it here:



Also according to the article on SUBSAMS at:


"The idea was tested in the 1980's using SEACAT missiles."

A few more quotes from the article:

"Submariners know when anti-submarine aircraft are searching nearby but they cannot
get a precise fix. What they need is a missile that can acquire its own target,
like the AMRAAM air-to-air missile, which uses an internal radar. The BGM-109
submarine-launched Tomahawk missile (below) could carry a 335 lb AMRAAM instead of
a 1000 lb warhead. A SUBSAM would have two stages, like the SUBROC missile, fired
straight up and then level off to fly a pre-programmed search pattern over the
submarine while the AMRAAM operates in the seek mode looking for airborne targets
for up to an hour. Once a target is detected, the AMRAAM fires and breaks away from
the cruise missile to pursue the aircraft."

"a roaming SUBSAM should keep aircraft away for up to an hour as it flies an
8-track pattern over the area until its fuel is depleted. Meanwhile, the submarine
has plenty of time to escape. On the other hand, inexperienced or aggressive
anti-submarine pilots may continue their hunt after they see the cruise missile fly
away, and face death a few minutes later as the SUBSAM returns during its
pre-programmed search pattern.

SUBSAMs may also be used offensively against airbases. A Tomahawk missile
striking an airbase may damage aircraft on the ground with luck. However, a SUBSAM
flying a pattern over a busy airbase may find something to shoot down. They may
also be fired at distant aircraft carriers while attacking a fleet with anti-ship
missiles to down aircraft and distract fighter pilots as they try to shoot-down the
incoming anti-ship missiles."

An interesting idea.


Of course, if Sub-launched SAMs aren't exotic enough for you, there's always the
mast-mounted Submarine cannon:



Anonymous said...

In addition to the Muraena mast-mounted 30mm cannon which, presumably, would be
mounted on this modular mast system (or something like it):


There's also this:



"Two mast mounted weapon systems, a 20 mm cannon and a missile launcher including
antiaircraft self-defense protect the sub and make it lethal."

Mast-mounted submarine cannons seem even more questionable than Sub-launched SAMs.
Are they really such a good idea?

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [at July 26, 2015 at 4:53 PM]

More great material for an article I'll write this week.

If only I had the cash I'd buy "a roaming SUBSAM" to deter pesky swooping magpies that are just too vicious here in Australia https://youtu.be/MhW9vpB6lGQ



Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [July 26, 2015 at 6:20 PM]

Thanks - more great material for an article I'll write this week.

I'd settle for a mast-mounted 30mm cannon or even a 20 mm cannon and a missile launcher to shoot down pesky magpies - magpie pacification program https://youtu.be/qoaEBb4IN4Q