6th OPV ICGS Vajra commissioned
Built indigenously by Larsen and Toubro, Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Vajra was commissioned into service by Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat at Chennai. ICGS Vajra is the sixth vessel out of the seven Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) under the contract signed in 2015. Like other five vessels, ICGS Vajra was also delivered ahead of time. The ultimate one, ICGS Vigraha was launched in October 2020 and is ready to undertake sea trials. Undeterred by the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown that followed, L&T mobilized its workforce and logistics to complete the project without putting employee’s lives at risk. Its efforts were appreciated by the officials of Coast Guard. The company’s endeavors to add strength to the Atmanirbhar Bharat policy of the government are commendable. L&T has gained considerable success in defence equipment manufacturing and is known for keeping ahead of its timelines. The company has designed, constructed and delivered 62 defence vehicles till date. Huge investments are being made by L&T in setting-up world-class defence production facilities across India. The company’s efforts range into diverse categories such as in-house R&D, engineering, Industry 4.0 practices from design, manufacturing to platform integration, along with customer focus and active engagement with Indian Armed Forces over three decades. L&T is also looking forward to export defence technology to export friendly nations. In order to provide efficient lifecycle support for defence ships, L&T has established modern infrastructure and processes at Kattupalli shipyard. The yard has repaired, refitted and upgraded 18 Indian Navy and Coast Guard vessels including Fleet Tankers, Fast Attack Craft, Survey Vessel, Offshore Patrol Vessels, etc.
OPVs operate in maritime zones of India including island territories with helicopter operation capabilities. These are long-range surface ships and can attain speed of up to 26 knots. Their design and construction process has certification of American Bureau of Shipping and Indian Registrar of Shipping. OPVs undergo patrolling in coastal and offshore areas, control and surveillance, anti-smuggling and anti-piracy operations with limited wartime roles.
Kinetix Engineering’s Wingman and MALE UAVs
India’s Bengaluru based private firm Kinetix Engineering Solutions Limited is developing Eklwya Loyal Wingman, a stealth, multirole unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and Maya Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV in collaboration with UK based Marques Aviation Company. Kinetix Engineering Solutions Limited is a niche technology provider in Defence, Aerospace and Space Industry. In last one decade the company has supplied UAVs, drones with swarm features embedded through Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deep Learning. According to the company, the increasing level of autonomy in defence equipment provided with AI technology can act as a force multiplier for existing manned combat aircraft.
The Air-Superiority Stealth Loyal Wingman incorporates artificial intelligence. It makes use of modular mission package with low observable design elements for minimum infrared and acoustic signatures and RCS with a different set of equipment or armaments for missions including combat, ISR, counter air, electronic intelligence, escort of manned platforms, etc. It employs stealth trapezoidal slender fuselage, V-tail, Serpentine air intake along with air-air refueling (AAR) system. The command and control comprises of both manned-unmanned teaming architecture accompanied by AI swarming Capability along with a distributed sensor fusion. The payloads would include sensors, EW systems, counter-measures and ordnances.
MAYA is a MALE UAV with multi-role Dual-use features. It has been designed typically for military roles and governmental missions. It has hybrid power plant, low fuel consumption and emissions, low operational costs, air-air refueling system, high capacity line of sight (LOS) and BLOS datalink. The UAV has proprietary Ai algorithms and secure data processing, electronically-steered array radar antenna.
Navy prioritizes nuclear-powered submarines over aircraft carrier
The Indian Navy has informed the government in the recently held Combined Commanders Conference that it would give priority to induction of 6 nuclear powered submarines over a third heavy aircraft carrier. The Navy is actively seeking Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) approval from the government on the SSN submarine project. The nuclear powered submarines are capable of patrolling the entire Indo-Pacific without surfacing even once and remain undetected on high seas and equatorial waters. China has more than dozen such submarines, its Type 095 attack submarine has reduced acoustic signature compared to Han class of submarine. India is preparing to jointly develop the submarine with France that has already designed Kalvari class diesel attack submarine for Indian Navy. This will help India stay away from regulatory regimes such as the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) with the US or any future sanctions in case of Russia. The government is emphasizing on upgrading naval vessels to counter China. It is expected that the next potential threat from China would come from Indian Ocean. It cannot come from South China Sea with the US Navy deployed there. The PLA Navy will have to deploy its submarines in the Indian Ocean and the vessels would have to surface while crossing Malacca Strait, Sunda or Lombok straits. India will commission its second aircraft carrier indigenously built in India INS Vikrant later this year. INS Arighat, the second nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) will also be commissioned this year.
HSL completes refit of OPV
Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) has successfully refitted third Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) of Indian Navy on time. The vessel has got a new lease of life with major repair works. Earlier the company had refitted INS Sutlej and Jack-up rig Aban. The ships have been refitted in the tough time of pandemic but have been repaired in time with considerable additional work involved in overhauling of the vintage ships. According to the senior officials of the HSL, the company is prepared to handle multiple projects simultaneously for both Indian Navy, Coast Guard including dredgers, offshore platforms and other merchant vessels. The success story of the company with regard to repair and refit takes into account the changes made in the procurement manual, working out SOPs to ensure quality and streamline the entire refit process, digital transformation by usage of ERP system, revised HR manual, etc.