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    Given the present pace at which India’s submarine projects are progressing, the Indian Navy’s projected fleet strength looks impressive, but in reality, most of the existing submarines are too old to continue service, making it a challenge for it to achieve its target of 24 submarines by 2030.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Indian Navy has received the much awaited Scorpene class submarine — INS Kalvari after a wait of over five years. The submarine was scheduled for induction in 2012-13 but the project got delayed due to controversies and the alleged ineptness of Indian shipyard to absorb the French technology and funding. Indian Navy's Western Command that guards the Indian waters near Pakistan will operate the submarine. 

    INS Kalvari is touted to be one of the quietest and most lethal submarines among its counterparts all over the world. However, the Indian Navy can ensure optimal utilization of the submarine only after it is fitted with its primary weapon — torpedoes — and air-independent propulsion systems, the purchase of which is hanging in the balance due to controversies. Nevertheless, the Indian defense ministry has said that despite its sub-optimal strength, the commissioning of INS Kalvari will augment the capability of the Indian Navy. 

    The sub is the fourteenth submarine to join the Indian naval fleet. The Indian Navy plans to own at least 24 submarines by 2030 to maintain its superiority in the Indian Ocean. Apart from the five remaining Scorpene-class submarines which are expected to be battle-ready by 2021-22, the Indian Navy would also receive six other nuclear submarines by 2030. The Indian Navy also intends to purchase six stealth submarines under project P75 (I) by 2030 but the project is presently at the tendering stage. 

    However, achieving the target of 24 submarines by 2030 would be a huge challenge for the Indian Navy as 13 of its existing conventional boats are 17-31 years old and need an immediate upgrade. Moreover, most of them would retire by 2030. 

    "Achieving the target of 24 submarines by 2030 would be extremely challenging. Definitely, it is a matter of concern for us but at the same time, the Indian Navy is continuously working to enhance the capability of Shishumar and Sindhugosh class submarine," Cmde. Abhay K Singh (Retd), a research fellow at the Military Affairs Centre in the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi told Sputnik. 

    Experts say that instead of targeting a certain number of submarines, India should focus on developing the capability of the existing fleet.

    "India's planning is focused on numbers till date and we have not achieved that so far. We should change the strategy now. Instead, every contract should be focused on capability development rather than numbers," Rear Admiral Rear Rahul K. Shrawat (retired) said.  

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    Tags:
    submarine, Indian navy, India, France
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