The Navy has begun arming its Russian Kilo-class war submarines with Klub-S cruise missiles to give a fillip to its maritime offence capabilities.
Inducted into the Navy between 1986 and 2002, the submarines will now be capable of striking warships and landing targets from as far as 40 nautical miles away. Each submarine will carry five Klub-S missiles with room for a mix of torpedoes. The upgrade will also give the submarines an altered fire control system with new sonars and electronic warfare equipment.
With no clearance to reopen its indigenous submarine-building capacities at the Mazgaon Docks Ltd, the Navy was delivered the last one, INS Sindhushastra, late last year.
Under the Kilo-class submarine deal with Russian defence manufacturer Zvezdochka Shipyard, eight submarines are being retrofitted with Russian 3M-54E1 Klub-S cruise missiles at a cost of Rs 352 crore. The upgrade involves getting launch platforms that are BrahMos-compatible. Compared to the 40 nautical mile-range Klub-S, the BrahMos will prove more powerful with a much larger strike range of 290 km.
While the Navy’s frontline Russian Kashin-class destroyers have already been retrofitted to fire surface-to-surface BrahMos missiles, home-grown warships will have to wait for a while. The Navy hopes to use the Kilo-class submarines until the long-awaited deal for six French Scorpene attack submarines is cleared. Going by the Navy’s expanded budget this year, sources say it is likely to come through soon.