India and South Korea launch new submarines

KSS-III launch

The proliferation of new diesel-electric attack submarines (SSKs) in the Asia Pacific region continues apace, with Indian and South Korean shipyards launching new boats on 12 and 10 November respectively.

India’s Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) launched Vagir, the fifth of six licence-built Kalvari (Scorpène)-class SSKs for the Indian Navy at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai. The 67.6 metre-long SSK displaces 1,775 tonnes when submerged and features advanced acoustic quieting technologies for underwater stealth.

Vagir will undergo further equipment fitting out and sea trials, with delivery to the Indian Navy expected by mid-2022.

Six Kalvari-class SSKs are being built under the Indian Navy’s) Project 75 programme at a total cost of around US$3.1 billion. Two boats have already been commissioned in December 2017 and September 2019 – INS Kalvari and INS Khanderi – while another two boats – Karanj and Vela – were launched in January 2018 and May 2019.

The final submarine, Vagsheer, is being built and close to completion with an expected launch in 2021.

Up to six more locally built SSKs based on an improved version of the Kalvari-class design, featuring air-independent propulsion (AIP) technology and land-attack capability, have also been approved by Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) under the Project 75(I) programme.

South Korea KSS-III

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) launched the second Dosan Ahn Chang-ho-class (KSS-III) Batch 1 SSK at its Okpo-based shipyard on 10 November. The submarine is expected to be delivered to the RoKN in 2022.

The future ROKS Ahn Moo is among nine AIP-equipped KSS-III submarines that will enter the RoKN fleet by 2029, with construction of the boats carried out in three tranches. Each tranche will comprise three boats, with subsequent submarines incorporating more advanced technologies.

Each 3,000 tonne Batch 1 series submarine feature a six-cell vertical launch system (VLS) that can deploy the Cheon Ryong (Eagle) land-attack missiles. The submarines are also equipped with eight 533 mm torpedo tubes that can be armed with weapons such as the indigenously developed Baek Sang Eo (White Shark) heavyweight torpedo.

The Batch 2 boats are expected to be longer and displace up to 4,000 tonnes, while increasing the number of VLS cells from six to 10. These are also expected to feature increased levels of indigenous content as well as lithium-ion batteries for increased range and endurance.

by Jr Ng