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Friday, August 1 1997

India's first "stealth" warship to be commissioned

Sandeep Unnithan

MUMBAI July 31: The first Indian warship incorporating stealth features, the 6700-tonne guided missile destroyer INS Delhi is to be commissioned into the Indian navy by Prime Minister IK Gujral at the naval dockyard on September 25.

Lead ship in a class of three indigenous missile destroyers, INS Delhi is currently undergoing extensive sea trials in the Arabian Sea.

Naval designers claim that Delhi, built in collaboration with Russian design teams, is the first Indian warship to include stealth features using smooth angles to reduce its radar cross section.

Stealth is the inclusion of special features - either smooth angled surfaces or radar absorbent composite materials - which bounce off or absorb enemy radar waves, reducing a ship's Radar Cross Section (RCS) making it less vulnerable to detection. Decreasing the RCS increases the chances of a ship surviving a missile or torpedo attack.

``As detection radars become increasingly sophisticated with wider ranges, it has become imperative to include stealth features in warship design to minimise chances of early detection,'' said a naval designer. INS Delhi has a low silhouette, is closer to the waterline and has few perpendicular radar friendly edges as compared to other naval ships.

Described as the navy's version of the Russian Kashin class destroyer incorporating Godavari class features, Delhi will be the first Principal Surface Combatant to join the Indian Navy in nine years.

Sister ships, INS Mysore and INS Bombay are in varying stages of completion at the Mazagon Docks Ltd and are expected to join the navy in the next three years, significantly increasing the navy's power projection capability.

With its heavy weapon load and multiple anti-ship, submarine and surface warfare roles, the missile packed ships of the Delhi class are touted as the most powerful warships in Asia after the 9,500-tonne Japanese Kongo class Aegis destroyers.

Named after an earlier class of light cruisers, the P15 ships have several features in common with the Russian `Neustrashimy' class frigate-the first Russian warship incorporating stealth features.

Delhi is the first Indian warship to be fitted with a phased array radar- the Russian MR-750 `Top Plate' air and surface search radar.

With a formidable cruiser-type armament of 16 surface to surface missiles, four times that of any other Indian naval surface combatant, Delhi is a capital ship in every sense of the term.

It's 16 Kh-35 `Uran' surface-to-surface anti-ship missiles have a phenomenal 120 km range. Dubbed `Harpoonski' for their similarity to the Western Harpoon missile, the Uran deal was concluded with Russia last year marking the navy's first acquisition of a new SSM system in over two decades. Loaded in ready to fire containers, the Uran is half the size of the older SSN-2 Styx with almost twice its capabilities.

The ship is armed with a single AK 100, 100 mm main gun and four 30 mm AK 630 close in weapon systems. Delhi has two single arm SA-7 `Gadfly' surface-to-air missile batteries. It is capable of carrying two Sea King helicopters and its two AM-50 gas turbines can power it to speeds of upto 35 knots.

Ordered by the Indian Navy in 1986, Delhi was laid down the following year, launched in 1991 and subject to endless delays. The Project 15 destroyer programme suffered crippling setbacks with the collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent halt of equipment supplies in 1991. The project limped back to normalcy three years later with the arrival of weapon and equipment fits from the new Russian federation.

Copyright © 1997 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

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