By Ritu Mousumi Tripathy
Promising to embolden the Indian Navy's maritime capabilities further, yet another indigenously-built stealth destroyer has been launched into the sea, with its induction slated for the year 2018.
INS Visakhapatnam, the lead ship of the Project-15B (BRAVO) class of guided missile destroyers (DDGs), is a follow-on warship to the Project-15A (Alpha) class of DDGs, the first of which, INS Kolkata has already been commissioned into the naval service in August 2014.
Like its predecessor, the new warship has been designed by the Navy's in-house unit - the Directorate of Naval Design, and built by Mumbai-based Mazagon Docks Ltd. (MDL). With a displacement of approximately 7,300 tons, the 163-metre-long vessel is propelled by four Ukraine-built Zorya gas turbines, and can cruise at a speed of over 30 knots.
While featuring the same hull design as that of the Project-15A class of warships, the new BRAVO-class destroyer will have the enhanced capability to operate in nuclear, biological and chemical atmosphere.
Once operational, it will become the largest destroyer in the Indian Navy's fleet.
One of the most powerful weapon systems on board the new warship would be BRAHMOS. The supersonic cruise missile, with both anti-ship and land-attack capabilities, has already been deployed and successfully test-fired twice from INS Kolkata in vertical mode in June last year and February this year.
An equal number of BRAHMOS surface-to-surface strike missiles, 16 that is (in two 8-cell vertical launch systems), will also arm the new BRAVO class destroyer as the prime strike weapon to take on both shore-based as well as sea-based surface targets at an extended range of up to 290-km.
The state-of-the-art BRAHMOS, with its supersonic speed of Mach 3, a very low-cruising altitude of 10 meters at terminal phase and pin-point accuracy, would give the enemy a deadly blow without being detected by any air defence systems.
Today, BRAHMOS has already been successfully deployed on 10 warships of the Indian Navy. These platforms include three Rajput-class DDGs, three Project 1135.6 (follow-on Talwar-class) guided missiles frigates, and three indigenously built Shivalik-class frigates, besides the INS Kolkata.
Arming the new-class of DDGs would make the missile one of the indispensable tactical assets in the Indian Navy's arsenal.
While two more DDGs under the Project-15A class (to be christened INS Chennai and INS Kochi) are under construction at present and are likely to be commissioned in the next two years, the Project-15B class will see three more warships to join the Navy by the year 2024.
Besides BRAHMOS, the warship will also be armed with 32 Barak-8 Long Range surface-to-air missiles presently being developed by India in partnership with Israel. It will also have twin tube torpedo launchers, rocket launchers and a close-in weapon system.
Such a weapons suit would make INS Visakhapatnam one of the heavily-armed maritime platforms of the Indian Navy.
By Ritu Mousumi Tripathy
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