Project 17 A: Know about ambitious project to indigenously build advanced stealth frigates

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Published: September 20, 2019 5:44:11 PM

In all, seven ships of P-17 A with advanced stealth capability has been ordered by the Indian Navy, with the ship, construction to take place at MDL (for four) and GRSE, Kolkata (for three).

Such stealth features play an important role in improving ship’s survivability in any hostile environment during operations. (Image: Indian Navy)

Next week the Indian Navy will launch the first of the P-17A ships which have been named ‘Nilgiri’ as a follow on to the first-ever frigate which was built by Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL), Mumbai, way back in the early ’70s.

With the latest technology fitted onboard, these multi-role P-17A ships are expected to play a critical role in the ever-evolving international maritime scenario, especially with Chinese naval power projection rapidly growing as an influence within Indian Ocean Region.

“The P17A is the follow-on of earlier P-17 Shivalik class ‘first indigenously’ constructed stealth warships which are already in operations with Indian Navy” explained a top Indian Naval officer.

In all, seven ships of P-17 A with advanced stealth capability has been ordered by the Indian Navy, with the ship, construction to take place at MDL (for four) and GRSE, Kolkata (for three). The MDL had laid the keel for the first Project 17A ship in December 2017, and GRSE did in Nov 2018 for its part of work share and has involved almost 2100 MSMEs in this project.

Weapon Systems onboard

The ships are expected to have a mix of Weapon systems which have been sourced from Russia, Israel and some have been locally manufactured in India.

According to a top naval officer, the weapon suite includes the standard contemporary weapons so as to achieve seamlessly inter-operability with other Fleet Task Force ships. The main weapon and sensor suite of P-17A ships indicated are BrahMos SSM, LRSAM (Forward & Aft configuration) with MF STAR radar, indigenous Sonar, and Triple tube Heavy Torpedo launcher.

What is the stealth feature onboard these ships?

Explaining what the technologies onboard these ships mean, Milind Kulshreshtha, Artificial Intelligence, and C4I expert says:

The main advanced stealth features of P-17A pertain to smaller Radar cross-section of the ship achieved through the use of special super structure shape which reduces radar wave reflections.

Another important feature is regarding the ship’s low acoustic noise emanating from propellers, operating machinery like Diesel Generators etc., which helps sonars on other ships to detect its presence.

Such stealth features play an important role in improving ship’s survivability in any hostile environment during operations.

What is Radar MFSTAR?

“The Radar MFSTAR (for Multi-Function Surveillance Track and missile guidance Radar) Frigate version shall bring in long-distance target detection and tracking ability for both, Air and Surface targets. The MFSTAR is also capable to undertake Target Designation of hostile targets for timely weapon engagement and achieve optimal utilization of Fleet resources. This unique MFSTAR feature makes an anti-missile countermeasure (as part of self-defense tactics) highly effective, especially against the sea-skimming missile threat to the Ship,” Kulshreshtha explains.

CIWS (Close-in Weapon System) is highly reliable Gun mount AK- 630s. Additionally, the Electronic Warfare systems on such advanced ships are very much integrated with the ship’s Combat functions and, thereby, makes P-17A ships not only difficult to detect due to hull structure form, but also capable to launch a pre-emptive countermeasures against any kind of threat, be it Air, Surface or Sub-surface, even before the hostile target launches its attack.

According to the C4I expert, the Combat Management System (CMS-17A) with advanced Data Link makes P-17A ships a valuable Fleet level asset. Even an individual P-17A vessel on regular patrol duties shall be 24/7 integrated with the Command HQ and, with the Flag Ship while operating at sea in a Fleet Formation. With its own hi-tech weaponry arsenal and advanced sensor capabilities, each of the P-17A ship shall also be designed for carrying out the primary duties of a Flag Ship.

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