India announces planned acquisition of Next-Generation Corvettes

‘Kamorta’ class corvette
The ‘Kamorta’ class corvette replaces the Indian Navy’s existing ‘Kora’ class ships, with four vessels being procured from Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers to this end. (Indian Navy)

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has greenlit a proposal to acquire an undisclosed number of Next-Generation Corvettes (NGC) for the Indian Navy worth up to US$4.6 billion.

The MoD said on 6 June that the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had awarded ‘Acceptance of Necessity’ (AoN) status for the NGC programme, which will be headed by a local shipbuilder.

Without providing specifics, the MoD further noted that the NGCs will be based on a “new in-house design” and will be capable of performing multiple missions including surveillance, escort, deterrence, surface and underwater warfare, and coastal defence.

Local media reported that the Indian Navy plans to acquire eight NGCs, although an earlier request for information (RfI) released in 2016 indicated a buy of up to seven 120 metre-long vessels with a total crew complement of around 158 personnel and a maximum cruising range of at least 4,000 nautical miles.

The NGCs are also expected to be equipped with a wide range of weapons and sensor systems, including a main gun in a stealth cupola, surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), lightweight torpedoes, an active towed sonar array, as well as a hull-mounted sonar. The vessels will also be able to support a naval helicopter.

The Indian Navy is understood to operate around 20 corvette-class vessels, although many of these are approaching the end of their operational lifespans. The service is looking to recapitalise this necessary capability, with Cochin Shipyard earlier in February 2021 awarded a US$1.3 bilion contract to supply six corvette-sized Next Generation Missile Vessels (NGMVs).

Although the MoD has yet to select the prime contractor for the NGC programme, several state-owned shipyards such as Cochin Shipyard, Garden Reach Shipbuilding and Engineering (GRSE), Goa Shipyard, and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders are likely candidates given their past experience in building corvette-class vessels for the Indian Navy.

by Jr Ng