By Rohit Srivastava
After the much talked S-400 missile deal, last week India signed an agreement with Russia to procure two advanced guided missile frigates. India was expected to sign a deal for four 11356 Frigates during the visit of Russian President to India in the first week of October.
According to sources, the two countries signed the contract last Thursday in New Delhi. The 11356 frigates are advanced Talwar class frigates armed with Indo-Russian Brahmos anti-ship supersonic cruise missiles.
In 2016, an Intergovernmental Agreement was signed between India and Russia for a 2+2 scheme where two ships were to come from Russia while the other two to be built in India. In March 2017, the technical details were finalized and India nominated Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) to build these vessels.
Reportedly, GSL, during the Euro Naval, spoke to Russian agency TASS and said that the first home built ship will be delivered to Indian Navy in 2023. According sources, the second contract for the two Indian built ships is expected to be signed in November.
India operates six Talwar class ships.
As per the contract, Russia is expected to provide the two ships minus the Brahmos missiles - which will be fitted in India at GSL, and the Ukrainian Zorya-Mashproekt manufactured DS-71 engine, for which India has signed a separate contract with Ukraine.
In the meantime, Indian Navy Chief Adm Sunil Lanba is expected to travel to Russia next month and will also visit Yantar shipyard where the frigates will be constructed.
In spite of its significance, the deal was hushed up. Post S-400 signing, India is fearing sanctions from the United States under its Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
This is a very significant deal for India as these frigates will be armed with anti-ship and air missiles with considerable anti-submarine capability. These frigates will be effective in both patrolling the maritime area of importance and for escorting naval ships like aircraft carriers. At a time, when India is very concerned with the expansion of Chinese naval power and its continuous presence in the Indian Ocean Region.
At DEFEXPO-2018 the head of the Russian delegation Vladimir Drozzhov, Deputy Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation of Russia answering a question on the current status of the contract mentioned that “Russia is keen that India gets the frigates at earliest and hopes that India will expedite all the procedures required to start the construction at the Indian shipyard”.
The first ship is expected to arrive around 2020.