Surface Forces: Big, Fast And Cheap

September 15, 2009: India has a new class of patrol ships in service, and they are proving very successful. The WJFACs (Water Jet-Propelled Fast-Attack Craft) are 600 ton, 150 foot long ships with water jet propulsion. This means the ships can operate in shallow (as little as 5 meters) water. The first two entered service two years ago, a second pair last year, and ten will eventually be in service.

Armed with a 30mm autocannon, shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles and two 12.7mm machine-guns, the ship can also be equipped with sonar and some anti-submarine torpedoes (the navy is secretive on this point.) The ship has surface and air search radar and is air conditioned. Top speed is 63 kilometers an hour, and cruising distance (at about 35 kilometers an hour) is 3,600 kilometers. Crew size varies depending on mission (and whether or not anti-submarine gear is on board), but is usually 30-40 sailors. These Indian designed and built ships cost about $10.4 million each.

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