India just saved its warships from being sitting ducks

Discussion in 'Indian Navy' started by Neil, Nov 25, 2014.

  1. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

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    Without advanced towed array sonar systems, all warships the navy has built and bought since the 1990s would be sitting ducks in war. Ajai Shukla reports


    On November 12, without announcement or fanfare, the defence ministry signed a small contract with enormous implications for itself and the Indian Navy. This formalised the purchase of six advanced towed array sonar systems from Atlas Elektronik, the German naval systems giant, for just under Euro 40 million (Rs 306 crore).

    These ATAS systems will equip three Talwar-class frigates (INS Talwar, Trishul and Tabar) and three Delhi-class destroyers (INS Delhi, Mumbai and Mysore), allowing them to detect enemy submarines in the Arabian Sea, where the warm, shallow waters confound conventional hull-mounted sonars.

    Without ATAS, all the warships the navy has built and bought since the 1990s - each costing a few thousand crores and crewed by a couple of hundred sailors - would be sitting ducks in war. Enemy submarines, lurking unseen 50-80 kilometres away, could leisurely torpedo Indian warships.

    So vulnerable has been India's fleet that when INS Vikramaditya, the navy's new aircraft carrier, was sailing home from Russia, it was escorted through the Arabian Sea by several Indian warships. There was no certainty that Pakistan's Agosta 90B submarines could be detected by sonar systems other than ATAS.

    All that protects India's 25 latest frontline warships from enemy submarines is a relatively ineffective Passive Towed Array Sonar (PTAS), and an indigenous hull-mounted sonar called HUMSA.

    So important is the ATAS contract that the MoD abandoned even the pretence of indigenisation. Atlas Elektronik will build all six ATAS systems in Germany, and has been exempted from offsets.

    ATAS is especially vital in the Arabian Sea. Warships detect underwater objects (like submarines) with sonar - a "ping" of sound emitted into the water that reflects from submarines, just as radar bounces back from aircraft. In our warm, shallow waters, the returning signal often gets lost. Since the water is warm on the surface and cools rapidly as one goes deeper, the sharp "temperature gradient" refracts sonar waves, bending them away from the warship's sensors. Unable to receive the returning signal, the warship cannot detect the submarine.

    ATAS overcomes the "temperature gradient", since it is towed by a cable that extends deep below the surface, into the cooler layers where submarines lurk. With the sensors themselves in the colder water layers, there is no "temperature differential". Even the faintest return signal from a submarine is detected.

    The navy will fit ATAS externally onto the rear of its warships, which have been built for this reason with an empty compartment at the rear.

    With this contract, Atlas Elektronik has taken pole position for supplying the navy a range of high-end sonars.

    Bharat Electronics Limited, which is required to build ten ATAS with foreign partnership, has been encouraged by the navy to tie up with Atlas so that sonar equipment is standardised across warships.

    BEL is learnt to be in discussions with Atlas for building ten ATAS for three Shivalik-class frigates (INS Shivalik, Satpura and Sahyadri), three Kolkata-class destroyers (Kolkata, Kochi and Chennai), and four Kamorta-class anti-submarine corvettes (INS Kamorta, Kadmatt, Kiltan and Kavaratti).

    That leaves 20 warships that will remain in naval service for some years.

    These include: three aircraft carriers (INS Vikramaditya, Vikrant and Vishal); three Brahmaputra class frigates (INS Brahmaputra, Betwa and Beas); three Talwar-class follow-on frigates (INS Teg, Tarkash and Trikand); four Project 15-B destroyers (unnamed, under construction); and seven Project 17-A frigates (unnamed, contract being negotiated).

    Given its first-mover advantage, the infrastructure and partnerships it will build and its already demonstrated price advantage, Atlas hopes to supply sonar systems for these and for other smaller surface warships and submarines.

    In April, the MoD tendered for 16 Anti Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Craft (ASWC), which need sophisticated sonar with electronically controlled beams.

    Atlas Elektronik sources say they are eager to establish a joint venture company with either BEL or an Indian private sector company to build sonars in India.

    That would grant majority ownership of 51 per cent to the Indian entity.

    ATAS import has been blocked since the mid-1990s because the Defence R&D Organisation was developing an indigenous ATAS called Nagan. In 2012, the Nagan project was officially shut down and work began on another system called ALTAS. With this making slow progress, the DRDO finally okayed import.

    In November 2012, two years ago, Atlas was declared the lowest bidder. That was followed by a string of complaints to the MoD against Atlas, apparently motivated, since the MoD found no wrongdoing.

    Even so, with the ministry painstakingly investigating every complaint, each caused a 3-4 month delay. Earlier this year, with the elections impending, the United Progressive Alliance decided to leave the signing to the next government.

    Atlas Elektronik is owned 51 per cent by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH (KMW) and 49 per cent by Airbus Defence & Space.


    :: Bharat-Rakshak.com - Indian Military News Headlines ::
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014
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  3. sgarg

    sgarg Senior Member Senior Member

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    The title is wrong. The ship was never a sitting duck just because it did not have a towed array.
    It is good to have ATAS. It increases the capability of the ship.
     
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  4. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    I am getting worried about the poor indigenous capability that we have.

    Sometimes I wonder whether any of the hardware we make including missiles, has anything more than 50% indigenous at all or not.
     
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  5. sgarg

    sgarg Senior Member Senior Member

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    @Tshering22, It is OK to import if we do not have the technology.
    The local content in missiles is very high, specially BMs.
     
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  6. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    Sir, I know it is okay to import. But that is okay only as long as India wants to be another Australia.

    If we have to be another Japan/USA/Germany in the future in the sense of power and influence apart from prosperity and capability, inhouse R&D has to start.
     
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  7. sgarg

    sgarg Senior Member Senior Member

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    @Tshering22, Sure. We have to create a sound R&D base in the country.
     
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  8. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    All those country you are mention are no different, Look at their systems and sub-systems, Half American, French and German and Etc ..

    Nothing is 100% indigenous, Their is always 20% foreign ..

     
  9. Hari Sud

    Hari Sud Senior Member Senior Member

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    Ajai Shukla as usual making mountain of a mole hill.

    Ironically the towed array sonar has been ordered. Shukla woke up just after the order for these was placed.

    Same way, remember a year back, a huge misleading news was created for the missing Barrack -8 missile on destroyers and aircraft carrier. These missiles are great but the ships were not sitting ducks. War was not about to break out. It is figment of very reactionary media's imagination. Somebody has to tell me that our enemies have better hardware and if it was true then they by now would have overrun this country.

    Imagine, if these uncontrolled reporters were in China, as sometime they sing praises of this copycat nation, they would long time back be arrested and sent to a re-education camp. Freedoms in India are misused. We have uncontrolled democracy, where imagination is a virtue. Reporters usually use their imagination to catch the unsuspecting public in a grind.
     
  10. Bheeshma

    Bheeshma Regular Member

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    The Indigenous ALTAS is in trials and will be ordered for the remaining ships. Thankfully IN has always supported DRDO and the fruits are there for everyone to see. I am hoping for quick induction of the heavy torps and Sonars into IN soon.
     
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  11. tharun

    tharun Patriot

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    Towed array is good for finding enemy submarines in our waters
    but there is another way of doing it by hydrophones,still we can track any thing under water.
     
  12. roma

    roma NRI in Europe Senior Member

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    totally correct - unfortunately the solution is a very long one - doesn't mean without hope
    but the sooner we get to it the better

    one can only hope the NDA will give attention to the matter - one sign is that we are the biggest importer
    and why when we have such huge human resources ?

    that should be a stark reminder of the wastage that is going on .
     
  13. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    But we have only 20% indigenous on an average. We need much more and that R&D can only provide.
     
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  14. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Yes indeed, But the percentage as of now on Capital Warships are around 40% ..

    This will be much reduce in near furture ..

     
  15. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    Kunal bhai, If USA isolates itself today, it can still continue to develop powerful military equipment with state of the art technology even if it in short and medium run.

    The question is, can we do the same?

    China emerged as a manufacturer and self-reliant in weapons development when US sanctioned it severely. Through whatever means was needed at that time.

    We had full access to technology, imports and assistance from Russia, France, Israel and recently, even USA.

    Where are we and where is China.

    That is the kind of self-reliance India must look at.
     
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  16. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    China progressed in defence and other manufactures by reverse engineering, access to US defence technology legally and illegally.

    We have progressed in Space technology with Russian assistance.

    US has too many stipulations and that is why we have not been successful with the US.

    However, with Parrikar announcing and open invitation to the indigenous defence industry, during the Meet at Gujarat, things will look up.

    Also, the presence of Ban ki Moon is interesting at the Meet since he is a South Korean and South Korea is ship manufacturing giant.

    Kerry too made his presence felt, possible as the vanguard to Obama's visit during the Republic Day, and spoke on opening up US India technological and business cooperation.

    Things are looking up.

    It is also true that nothing can be 100% indigenous.

    However, Shukla doth protests too much.

    He is a flip flop chap. For Russian tank and then switched to Arjun!

    Now, he is soft selling foreign import.
     
  17. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    I agree with your view, But we just got independent unlike China and US, In basics of all we are self-reliant exception can be air-force ..

     
  18. Manas7

    Manas7 Regular Member

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    Ajai middleman Shukla
     
  19. Warhawk

    Warhawk Regular Member

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    No the title is not wrong or misleading. With the introduction of long range heavy weight torpedos, it is always better for a surface warship to find and engage a submarine first. Without the ATAS it would be almost impossible for our ships to do the same. The warships selected for the initial ATAS upgrade are part of the Western CGB, and the way the contract has been done clearly shows the importance of such system.
     
  20. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    The same can be said for many ..

     
  21. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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