Thursday, 17 December 2009

Project 28 corvettes: India to tender for composite technology for superstructure


The Swedish Navy Visby-class corvette, Helsingborg. Its builder, Kockums, will bid to supply composite technology for India's Project 28 corvette programme.

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 17th Dec 09

The Indian Navy’s prestigious Project 28, the programme to build four of the world’s stealthiest anti-submarine corvettes, is on track to become even more cutting edge. By the end of this month, three international shipbuilders will be bidding to provide Kolkata-based Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) with the technology to build a major part of the corvettes --- the entire superstructure --- with lightweight composites.

By making the superstructure, which is the upper part of the ship that rests on the hull, of lighter composite material, the 2500-tonne warships will become lighter, stealthier and far more stable in the water. Already acclaimed as world-class warships, composite superstructures will make them, considering their low weight, highly effective submarine hunters.

Business Standard has learned that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will shortly issue tenders to three shipbuilders with extensive experience in fabricating composites. Kockums of Sweden, a subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), which builds the world’s stealthiest warships, the 650-tonne Visby class corvettes, is a leading contender; also in the fray are Italian shipbuilder, Intermarine; and Korea’s Kangnam Corporation.

With composite materials increasingly crucial to warships, this lucrative tender could open the door for broader partnership with Indian defence shipyards. The three companies are maintaining a discrete silence for now, but an aide to the spokesperson of TKMS admitted, “India is an interesting market for TKMS at the moment because of the serious attention that the Government of India is giving to the technical future of the Indian Navy.”

The first two corvettes of Project 28, which are nearing completion, have already been built with conventional steel superstructures. Subsequent corvettes, i.e. the third ship onwards, can have composite superstructures. The Chairman and Managing Director of GRSE, Rear Admiral KC Sekhar told Business Standard during a visit to GRSE in August that, “Composite materials technology can only be incorporated for the third and fourth ships of Project 28. The first corvette is already 90% completed. 80% of the superstructure is ready for the second corvette.”

All the high technology going into Project 28 is boosting costs; GRSE and the MoD are locked in negotiations to finalise a price for the corvettes. Since 2003, when the order was placed, GRSE has worked on Project 28 based on nothing more than a Letter of Intent from the MoD. The cost mentioned in that LoI was derived from the cost of the earlier Project 25A, for previous generation Kora class corvettes.

But now, that cost has ballooned, partly because of repeated changes that the navy has demanded in order to keep Project 28 at the cutting edge of stealth technology. The LoI’s Rs 2800 crore for the four ships of Project 28 (i.e. Rs 700 crores per corvette), has swelled to Rs 7000 crores (Rs 1750 crore per corvette). And, since the cost of the first ship of Project 28 was to determine the real cost of Project 28, the MoD has little option but to pay that amount.

But Business Standard has learned that the MoD-GRSE negotiations could soon have a happy ending. Although the order was placed in 2003, the MoD is likely to agree to a “commencement of production” date of March 2006, to compensate for the delays caused by repeated changes in specifications. Since the first Project 28 corvette is likely to roll out in 2012, that will amount to a notional build period of 6 years, in line with the time that most foreign shipyards take to produce the first ship of a class. Subsequent ships, however, are expected to be churned out much faster.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ajai, if 90% of the ship is completed, then why is the ship not launched? When is the launch of the first ship going to take place?

joydeep ghosh said...

ajai sir

what ever u have said is excellent news, but I have some querries.

You said

The LoI’s Rs 2800 crore for the four ships of Project 28 (i.e. Rs 700 crores per corvette), has swelled to Rs 7000 crores (Rs 1750 crore per corvette). And, since the cost of the first ship of Project 28 was to determine the real cost of Project 28, the MoD has little option but to pay that amount.

Q1. Composite lightweight materials dont come cheap, what is its advantage over steel body.

Q2. Can they be made in India, by way of TOT

you said

The Chairman and Managing Director of GRSE, Rear Admiral KC Sekhar told Business Standard during a visit to GRSE in August that, “Composite materials technology can only be incorporated for the third and fourth ships of Project 28. The first corvette is already 90% completed. 80% of the superstructure is ready for the second corvette.”

Q1. Doesn't mean that the P28 1 and 2 will be at distinct disadvantage than the P28 3 and 4.

Q2. Will it be easier to get these warships to perform quick action.

Q3 I had heard that 7 warships were being built under Project 28 , u r saying 4.

Q4. What abt Project 28A. does it exist, n what r its advantages over the Project 28 warships.

you said

the 2500-tonne warships will become lighter, stealthier and far more stable in the water. Already acclaimed as world-class warships, composite superstructures will make them amongst the most effective submarine hunters in any of the world’s navies.

Q1. when we have 6900 ton destroyers (INS Kolkata) being built, 5000 ton frigates being built (INS Shivalik), both stealthy can be used to hunt submarines also; then whats the use of building a corvettes at such high price.

Q2. Cant we build multi role warship just like AF who have multirole aircrafts.

Anonymous said...

BUT...isn't India has the world best composite technology as demonstrated in "90% by surface area, 50% by weight in LCA. So is composite technology DEVELOPED inhouse or just procured from Italians for just LCA.

Well time for DODO paid cons to spin it now.

Broadsword said...

Joydeep:

I would suggest you pick up a good book on warships. It will answer most of your questions about composites, the benefits of single role corvettes, etc.

joydeep ghosh said...

but ajai I still know nothing abt these, can u pls elaborate

Q1. The P28 1 and 2 will be at distinct disadvantage than the P28 3 and 4.

Q2 I had heard that 7 warships were being built under Project 28 , u r saying 4.

Q3. What abt Project 28A. does it exist, n what r its advantages over the Project 28 warships.

Anonymous said...

So these 4 stealth coevette's will protect India from submarine threat.Sweden has 5 of these already commisioned .....
Why does such a small country need 5 of these corvettes and country like India can propose to support anti submarine activities with just 4.Why can't we have these in 20's and 30's so as to offend and defend from the enemy submarines.

Anonymous said...

"But now, that cost has ballooned, partly because of repeated changes that the navy has demanded in order to keep Project 28 at the cutting edge of stealth technology."

--when will we have a good plan? our armed forces don't know what they want.

AK said...

Composite materials!!!
I have read that DRDO and ISRO have strong base in composite materials and can manufacture best in the class materials for military and civilian use. They built a lightweight carbon fiber bridge that can hold an MBT. So why can't they make one for the Navy's ships.

The more I read the more I get confused about India's defence plans.

Broadsword said...

AK:

"The more I read the more I get confused about India's defence plans."

The more I read visitors' comments, the more I get confused about whether this is, in fact, their first visit to a defence blog!

"Composites" is the name of a material. To be able to make some kinds of composites, even the high-grade composites that go onto the nose-cone of an Agni missile, does not imply the ability to do EVERYTHING that can be done with composites. Constructing a ship's superstructure with composites involves fabricating composite plates with the kind of structural strength that a warship needs.

What you're saying, AK, is like, "goddam, I though India knew metals... they can do gun barrels and even the body of rockets and missiles. So why are they asking for technology for an engine core?

The answer: because it's a different technology that India does not have!!

Sabe?

Broadsword said...

Joydeep:

Q1. The P28 1 and 2 will be at distinct disadvantage than the P28 3 and 4.

No, think positively! The P-28 3 and 4 will be at a distinct advantage over the P-28 1 and 2.

Q2 I had heard that 7 warships were being built under Project 28 , u r saying 4.

Good, so now you have two different figures. Choose which one you wish to go with.

Q3. What abt Project 28A. does it exist, n what r its advantages over the Project 28 warships.

Project 28A lives only in under-informed and over-hopeful defence blogs.

fighterclass said...

Anonymous said...

So these 4 stealth coevette's will protect India from submarine threat.Sweden has 5 of these already commisioned .....
Why does such a small country need 5 of these corvettes and country like India can propose to support anti submarine activities with just 4.Why can't we have these in 20's and 30's so as to offend and defend from the enemy submarines.

17 December 2009 15:17

..............

oh dear !
there is absolutely NO COMPARISON between the roles and capabilities of the visby and the P28. it's only the signature reduction technology (aka stealth)of the visby that will be used in the P28, not anything else.

the visby is a 600 tonne class boat with one main gun, NO SAM, no permanent helicopter and no anti-ship missiles (till date)
it's anti-submarine capabilities are very limited as compared to the P28.

the P28 is 2500 tonnes, MORE THAN 4 TIMES THE SIZE OF THE VISBY.
get the rest of its capabilities from the net.

can't you people at least google or look up wiki before asking these inane questions ????

fighterclass said...

ajai, would that 1750 Cr figure apply to vessels 1 & 2 too or only to 3 & 4 ?
or is that the average cost ?
thanks in advance ?


.................
BUT...isn't India has the world best composite technology as demonstrated in "90% by surface area, 50% by weight in LCA. So is composite technology DEVELOPED inhouse or just procured from Italians for just LCA.

Well time for DODO paid cons to spin it now.
..................

and the pakis come out of the woodwork !

Broadsword said...

Fighterclass:

Rs 1750 crores per boat; Rs 7000 crores for the four.

Broadsword said...

My thanks to Alex Pape for pointing out two factual errors in my article. I have corrected the text of the article, but here are his observations:-

(a) Intermarine is Italian, not Greek.

(b) In terms of pure anti-submarine capability, the Royal Navy Type 23 (4000 plus tonnes) and the French Navy FREMM (6000 tonnes) are more capable platforms.

I have modified my article to read, "Already acclaimed as world-class warships, composite superstructures will make them, considering their low weight, highly effective submarine hunters."

SM said...

Hi Ajay..just want you to ask a very simple question. Given the fact that i have very little knowledge about the "stealth" factor of a warship or an aircraft, i just want to ask you, how advance our recent so called stealthy warships(shivalik class, kolkata class) are in terms of reduction of radar cross section with comparison to the modern western stealthy vessels(type-45 of RAF,la fayette or more recent LCS of US navy). We simply know the fact that to reduce the radar cross section of a ship, the superstructure of the final ship must be very cleaned in nature & as much as we can see from the recently posted pictures of ins shivalik, the superstructure is still very cluttered in comparison with the western vessels!!(thanks in avance)

Archangel said...

nice to have such things on our ships but though the project 28 promises good fire power i think a lot of our ships donot have adequate air defences against missiles like the Chinese sunburn. most of the ship borne air defences have a limited range of upto 50km which is pathetic to be honest. I think instead of waiting for the Barak Naval NG to come out in 2017 they should already order AEGIS defence systems armed with SM-6 and SM-3 long range missiles, SM-6 has a range of over 180km and SM-3 can hit targets over 500km away. moreover the Naval barak's range seems to around 80 to 120km whihc is useless now that China seems to have developed ASBM, hence we need BMD on lot of our ships. By the time we have similar capabilities to the AEGIS on our ships, it'll be beyond 2025.

Broadsword said...

SM:

Stealth is not just about Radar Cross Section, or RCS. It is equally about magnetic signature; noise signature, IR signature and so on. There are as many ways of locating a ship as there are of skinning a cat.

While the Talwar class and the Shivalik class incorporate stealth feature to some extent, the Project 28 will be the first Indian Navy ships in which stealth has been given real importance.

Here's what a friend whose opinion I respect has to say bout the Project 28: "it is worth nothing that to be truly effective in the ASW role your warship should posses the following: very low acoustic signature (preferably electric engines or gas turbines, as well as extensive measures to reduce radiated or cavitation noise), space for at least one ASW helicopter with dipping sonar and torpedos to get on top of a submarine, space for a low frequency active/passive towed array sonar (bow sonars are limited in what they can do).

Also, "Good seakeeping to be able to operate that towed array sonar and helicopter in bad weather. All of these put together result in a ship of a certain size (look at French FREMM, 6,000 tons, and UK Royal Navy Type 23 at 4,000+ tons), so Project 28 at 2,500 tons is a compromise between these elements."

I think that is a pretty fair assessment.

Anonymous said...

Hi Fighterclass : as per wiki
visby has the following armaments

Armament: 1 × 57 Mk3
8 × RBS15 Mk2 AShM
likely 8x Umkhonto IR Surface-Air missiles in VLS

8 anti ship missile,so what have you to say about that.The operational range of these missiles is 250 KM.Thanks for the comments

Anonymous said...

ajai ji any update on INS shivalik and Project 15-B

fighterclass said...

anon, wiki is wrong. it's even written on the same page. look at naval technology website page on visby.

RBS shipbased version is not ready yet and umkhonto which is a very limited missile anyway, is proposed, not fitted.

question is, can you read or can you not ?in other words why are you wasting our time otherwise ?
go enrol in a lindergarten.


from the wiki page.
....................
However, as of December 2009, the ships have not been declared operational. There have been reports about unsolved problems with integration of the RBS-15 AShM but it is unclear if this is the main reason that have yet again delayed the ships which still remains, some nine years after the launch of the first ship, not operational. Also please note that a decision has been made to not install any surface-to-air missiles on the class, due to budget reasons. It is unfortunately unavoidable that this decision leaves the ships vulnerable to attack with anti-shipping missiles.
.......................

Anonymous said...

Col. Shukla, is P28 India's solution similar to the LCS(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Littoral_combat_ship).

I have yet to read up on the combat abilities and the armaments carried on the P28s, but am encouraged to believe India will at some point consider building a slightly larger LCS? btw, here are the specs for the Independence class - 2,176 tons light, 2,784 tons full, 608 tons deadweight, Freedom class - 3,089 tons. Their costs have escalated to an estimated 400mn respectively and Indian shipbuilding costs are pretty low in comparison. They could be reduced further with some more cooperation in hull design from the Australians who have some excellent designs currently in place.

Anonymous said...

To fighter class:I am sorry if discussing something and clarifying spurts -ve emotions in you :-)

3rd ~ EyE said...

Hi Ajai ,

I’m a layman when it comes to assessing defense systems .

After reading your blog /comments & net resources about Visby / FREMM / Proj 25
I have a feeling that the visby & FREMM has given much more importance to visual stealth & reduced RCS … (the antenna array / gun turret design … )

http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/NAVY/Images/Project28b.jpg

in my words its like the F22s pitted against Mig29s .. Ajai, do you think the design can be improved … for better results without increased figures ?

fighterclass said...

anon, is it too much to expect that you will at least read the very page you are quoting ? if so, then yes I'm frustrated by such attitude.

@ 3rd eye, unlike FREMM and Visby, P28 primary focus is on reducing noise signature, not radar signature. since it will inevitably operate under the protective umbrella of other surface ships and then in too mostly around India itself it can afford to go a 'little' less stealthy than those two.

that said, the difference won't be very great. have a look, http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/NAVY/Images/Project28b.jpg
http://defence.cdn.indipepal.com/Project28Class.jpg
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/SHIP_FFG_FREMM-Italian_Concept_lg.jpg

Navinder said...

Great blog...

Thanks for all your efforts, Ajay!