Submarines: Get By With A Little Help From The Enemy


May 18, 2007: Pakistan's six new Agosta class subs are, according to a recent Indian government audit, even more dangerous than first thought. That's because several Indian anti-submarine systems are not operational, although they should be.

The Agosta class boats are 1,500 ton (surface displacement) diesel-electric subs with a 36 man crew and four 21 inch torpedo tubes (with 20 torpedoes and/or anti-ship missiles carried.) Pakistan is equipping some of its Agosta 90Bs with an AIP (air independent propulsion) system. This enables the sub to stay under longer, thus making the sub harder to find. AIP allows the sub to travel under water for 4-5 days at low speed (5-10 kilometers an hour). The Pakistanis are exercising their option to retrofit AIP in two of their Agostas.

Indias problem is that is has ordered six Talwar class frigates from Russia, at a cost of $500 million each. These are export versions of the Russian Krivak III class ships, which the Russian navy cannot afford to buy for itself. The first three Talwars entered service in 2003-4. There were some teething problems with these ships, the first of a new class. But the Indians were finally satisfied, when Russia made good all deficiencies, and ordered three more. But there was one major shortcoming with the Talwars, the Indian supplied sonars are not working.

The Talwar's are 386 feet long, carry 24 anti-aircraft and eight anti-ship missiles, four torpedo tubes, as well as a 100mm gun, close in anti-missile guns, a helicopter, anti-submarine weapons (depth charges and missiles). The ship has a very complete set of electronics gear, except for the missing Indian sonar. There is a crew of 180.

It gets worse. The Ilyushin-38 maritime patrol aircraft, that are being upgraded by their manufacturer in Russia, are returning to service without the Indian supplied anti-ship missiles, torpedoes, sonobuoys and electronics that were ordered six years ago.

Once more, India has been shortchanged by its own government owned defense manufacturers. This was a dirty little secret, within the government, for over a decade. But now the details are getting out, and the situation is pretty dismal. So far, the best the government can do is buy foreign replacements. Reforming the government operations has, so far, proven impossible.


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