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Project 17A Frigate

India has embarked on one of the most ambitious naval building and procurement plans in the world. Among the projects is the Project 17A Shivalik-class frigate, the follow on the Project 17 (Shivalik class) frigates for the Indian Navy. Project 17A could either extend Indian modifications of the Krivak IIIs once again, or adopt an entirely different base platform. A total of seven ships will be built, though in 2007 it was reported that 12 more of improved Project 17A model may be built. As of 2000 India was looking to purchase one Stealthy Frigate from a foreign yard and several more to be constructed domestically.

To augment its surface combatant fleet with a new class of multi-role, fast stealth frigates, the Indian Navy floated a global request for information (RFI) in December 2006 to a number of Russian, European and American shipyards for building one vessel in an international shipyard and six in India, most probably at the Mazagon Dock Limited, Mumbai, or the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, Kolkata. The deal was expected to be worth around Rs. 30,000 crore. Three American companies (Lockheed Martin, NorthropGrumman, and General Dynamics) have been sent the initial requests for information.

As of late 2007 the Navy reportedly planned to order four more frigates under Project-17A. As of December 2008 the Russian shipbuilding industry was in line for for the co-design and joint fabrication of seven guided-missile frigates under Project 17A, for which Moscow was said to be offering the "Project 1167" FFG. But no one has ever heard of a "Project 1167" FFG from Russia, and if a Russian frigate were on offer to India it is far more likely to be the the 4,500 ton Project 22350 Gorshkov DDG was implausibly said to be offered for the Indian Project 15B destroyer program. Project 17A would be a "one plus six" program, with the first built abroad and the remaining six built in India.

In the FORCE November 2008 issue the Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition has stated "a total of 7 destroyers, 13 frigates..." as the major warship construction that would have been accomplished by 2022. That would indicate (3 P15A + 4 P15B} destroyers and {3 Krivaks + 3 P17 + 7 P17A} frigates. Interviews of senior Indian navy officials in the December 2008 issue of FORCE talk of future warship construction projects, with the seven Project 15B DDGs and seven Project 17A FFGs clealy identified. The Improved Krivaks are of imported origin and do not form part of the domestic warship construction package. That still leaves a shortfall of six yet-to-be-built FFGs and this void is to be filled by an additional 3 Project 1135.6 FFGs to add to the six, plus ordering an additional three more Project 17 FFGs as a Batch 2 package.

In November 2008 Vice Admiral Dilip Deshpande, Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition, said that with three frigates (Project 17) under construction at MDL and three more frigates (Talwar Class follow-on) under construction at Yantar Shipyard in Russia. "We have plans to order seven more frigates under Project 17A where we plan to adopt a new build technology or integrated construction. We are looking at transfer of technology for this type of construction where modules are completed and fitted together as a whole. At present, we are in discussion with advanced shipyards for this technology (like DCNS, Fincantieri, shipyards in South Korea, Bath Iron Works, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Gruman and Rosboronexport). Whoever emerges as the best option in terms of technology transfers and costs would be given the contract. Where these frigates will be constructed has not been decided as yet."

India had never done modular shipbuilding, which involves constructing a multi-thousand-ton warship in 300-ton modules, which are brought together and assembled. both GRSE and Mazagon Dock Limited, Mumbai (MDL) are spending hundreds of crores on creating modular construction facilities by mid-2011, by when assembly of the Project 17-A frigates is due to start. The project may be split between two shipyards. Vice Admiral HS Malhi, chairman and managing director (CMD) of MDL explains, "We have to ensure that the navy gets all these seven warships by 2021. That means GRSE and MDL might both work concurrently on Project 17 A; you might have four built in MDL and three in GRSE. There is enough work for both shipyards." GRSE and MDL insist that Project 17-A be built entirely in India. Business Standard has reported that the Indian Navy wanted the first two frigates to be built abroad by the design partner.

By early 2009 there appeared to be three contenders - the French FM400, German MEKO frigate and Russian Admiral Sergai Gorshkov class frigates. The French FM400 and German MEKO class frigates are quite different from what India currently operated. As the La fayette is out of production, DCNS offered the FM400, a smaller cheaper version of FREMM. As the Sachsen is not on offer, the Germans offered the MEKO D500, a 5000 ton frigate similar to the Project 17A requirement, or an enlarged version MEKO D600, which is of 6000 tons. There was also some suggestion that the P17A tender for 7 frigates had been split into two parts, with possible purchase of 3 additional Modified Krivak class frigates, and 4 additional Shivalik class frigates, to fulfill the 7 frigates wanted by the Navy.

By July 2012 Project-17A was finally gathering steam, with the Contract Negotiation Committee was underway for Project-17A, with thee contract to be awarded "soon" after the final nod from the Cabinet Committee on Security. India was planning to spend a mammoth Rs. 50,000 crore (USD 8.8 billion) to construct seven advanced stealth frigates with all weapon and missile systems inside the hull for lower radar signature. The construction of these stealth frigates under Project-17A was to be undertaken by Mazagon Docks (MDL) at Mumbai and Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) at Kolkata. According to one report, four of the seven frigates to be built in Mumbai and the remaining three in Kolkata. Other reports say that one vessel was supposed to be built at a foreign shipyard, with the remaining six to be built by Indian companies under license.

Having successfully completed the construction of Shivalik class frigates, by md-2012 Mazagon Dock Ltd, was looking ahead to future with confidence. Its order book is an envy of any defence ship builder in the world. Under construction in MDL’s berths were three destroyers of Project 15A — Kolkata, Kochi and Chennai — joining the navy’s fleet in 2013 onwards. Also on order were four more destroyers of Project 15B, to be followed at that yard by four stealth frigates of the Project 17A.

By August 2013 the design of Project 17A had been completed, and final nod was still awaited from the defence ministry to launch construction.

The contract for construction of three highly Advanced Stealth Frigates under Project 17A is the largest ever order won by the company. This prestigious contract of Rs. 19293.46 crore was signed between the Ministry of Defence and GRSE on 20 February 2015. Kolkata based Indian Defense PSU Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) won $3.1 billion (INR 20,000 crore) order in April 2015 to build three advanced stealth frigates for the country’s navy. "This is the highest-ever order which GRSE has got. This shows how much trust the government and the Navy has on us. It is a big shot in the arm for us," GRSE's Chairman and Managing Director Rear Admiral A K Verma told reportersy. Under project P-17A, Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL), Mumbai, will make four stealth frigates while the Kolkata shipyard will make three such frigates, all of which will be of the same design.

Garden Reach passed a key milestone in its Project 17A 10 November 2018 with the laying of the keel of the first of the three Advanced Stealth Frigates. The keel was laid at GRSE’s Main Works Unit in the august presence of Vice Admiral K. B. Singh, PVSM, AVSM, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command. Rear Admiral V. K. Saxena (Retd.), Chairman & Managing Director and other senior officials of the Indian Navy and GRSE graced the ceremony.

The first ship was expected to be delivered in 2023 and the next two ships in 2024 and 2025 respectively.

Russia and India signed contracts in November 2018 on the delivery of four Project 11356 frigates. Under the deal, two frigates will be built at Russia’s Yantar Shipyard on the Baltic coast (part of the United Shipbuilding Corporation) and the other two at India’s Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL). Project 11356 frigates are designed to deliver strikes against enemy surface ships and submarines in the coastal and oceanic zones and fight air targets both independently and as part of a naval group. The warships of this type are armed with A-190 100mm artillery guns, striking missile and air defense systems, including Kalibr and Shtil weapons and torpedo armament. The frigates displace 3,620 tonnes, are 124.8 meters long, develop a speed of 30 knots and have an operating range of 4,850 miles. The frigates can carry a Ka-27 helicopter and its modification.

India will get two Project 11356 frigates under construction at the Yantar Shipyard on the Baltic coast by the end of the first half of 2024, Russia’s Federal Service for Technical and Military Cooperation told TASS 06 February 2020 at the DefExpo international arms show in India. «In accordance with the existing work schedule agreed by the sides, the Project 11356 frigates under construction at the Yantar Shipyard in Kaliningrad are due to be delivered to the Indian Navy by the end of the first half of 2024».

Under the plan, two more frigates will be built at an Indian shipyard. As Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation specified, the sides have started preparing India’s Goa Shipyard Limited for the frigates’ construction. «In order to build the ships, it is necessary to further equip the Indian shipyard, develop and deliver the necessary documentation and train Indian specialists, including in the process of building the ships at the Russian shipyard,» the press office explained.

On 13 October 2020 India and Russia inked a $500 million deal for design and transfer of technology for the construction of two guided-missile stealth frigates at the Goa Shipyard. The pact for construction of the two 4,000-tonne Grigorivich or Talwar-class frigates, which was inked between defence shipyard Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) and Russia's state-run defence export arm Rosoboronexport, is part of the umbrella agreement to acquire four such warships for the Indian Navy. The defence ministry on 23 October 2020 inked the over Rs 8,000 crore contract with Rosoboronexport for the first two frigates, which were lying half-constructed at the Russian Yantar Shipyard due to a cash-crunch and bilateral problems between Russia and Ukraine. While the first two frigates will be imported from Russia, the other two will be built at GSL at an overall cost of around Rs 13,000 crore. India will separately acquire the Zorya gas-turbine engines to power the frigates -- four for each warship -- at a total cost of around Rs 1,000 crore from Ukraine.

Construction of the two frigates at the defence shipyard will begin in 2020, with the first one being delivered in in 2026 and the second a year later. This seems a long building period even by normally sedate Indian standards, so it is unclear precisely what "construction" means.

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Page last modified: 13-09-2021 14:50:34 ZULU