INS Kochi, which was commissioned by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar this week at Mumbai’s Naval Dockyard, signifies India’s exceptional indigenous capacity of system integration. This is one of the many firsts the huge stealth frigate can boast of. “Hardly any other country in the world has such a super-specialised skill,” Rear Admiral R.K. Shrawat (Retired), chairperson and managing director of Mazagon Dock Limited, told The Sunday Guardian. INS Kochi is one of India’s deadliest and largest indigenously made warships, with a displacement of 7,500 tonnes.
The warship will be inducted within the naval fleet in a period of one year, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R.K. Dhowan said. Here are the less-known details about the best indigenously made destroyer so far.
EXCEPTIONAL SYSTEM INTEGRATION
The warship has components and equipment sourced from different countries and companies. The BrahMos supersonic anti-ship missiles have been developed together by India and Russia. MFSTAR and LR-SAM have been jointly developed by India and Israel. Very few warships in the entire world and only two in India, have MFSTAR and LR-SAM mounted on them.
“Apart from that, we have equipment made indigenously, and those from diverse forces. All these weapons, sonars, radars have to be integrated by one agency. These weapons and equipment need to talk to each other. Ensuring that is a very complex and super-specialised task,” R.K. Shrawat said.
Not many countries in the world have the capability to integrate systems from such diverse sources, he added. This capacity developed indigenously has given the Indian Navy the flexibility to choose the best components from different countries across the globe. “The Navy knows that whatever it chooses will be integrated well,” he said.
COMBAT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
A whopping four million lines of codes have been written to develop the most advanced combat management system onboard INS Kochi. The system is so well-developed that all the data about the surrounding threat comes in one place, along with analysis about the kind of threat. It does not stop at that. The system also advises the commanding officer about the kind of weaponry he should use to tackle the threat. Obviously, all this happens in real-time.
The planer array radar fitted on-board INS Kochi is capable of understanding the exact details of the enemy warship. “We have a huge database entered within the system. Ordinarily, the radar would only show a blip on the screen. But this advanced electronic surveillance system, which has been indigenously developed, picks up radio emissions from the other ship and classifies it. It provides the exact specifications of the ships. These specifications are then matched with the data fed about different warships. The system tells the commanding officer about the kind of vessel that is approaching and the best defence against it,” a senior officer from the complement of 40 officers and 350 sailors onboard INS Kochi, said.
It is not the first warship on which the planer array radar has been mounted, but it is more rugged and has far better frequency than the ones used until now. This radar does not rotate. An electronic beam rotates around its four walls.
“INS Kochi incorporates new design concepts for stealth and has many firsts to her credit, including a very large component of indigenous combat-suite. The ship is packed with the most sophisticated state-of-the-art weapons and sensors including the vertically launched Long Range Surface to Air Missiles (LRSAM) and MF-STAR multi-function active phased array radar, which is fitted only on the Kolkata class of ships. She is equipped with the advanced supersonic and long range BrahMos Surface to Surface Missile — a joint Indo-Russian venture. The 76 mm Super Rapid Gun Mount (SRGM) and AK 630 CIWS, both manufactured indigenously, can take on air and surface targets.
“The entire anti-submarine weapon and sensor suite fitted onboard, consisting of Indigenous Rocket Launchers (IRL), Indigenous Twin-tube Torpedo Launchers (ITTL) and a bow-mounted New Generation HUMSA Sonar are fine examples of India’s indigenous efforts in the field of underwater warfare. The sensor suite includes other advanced Surface to Air surveillance radars and an indigenous Electronic Warfare System. A state-of-the-art Combat Management System (CMS-15A) has been integrated with the onboard weapons and sensors. The ship is equipped to operate two Seaking or Chetak Helicopters,” a statement issued by the Ministry of Defence stated.
The enhanced weapon range and the modern equipment help INS Kochi not just to protect herself, but the entire naval fleet. She can create a bubble of defence around herself and the entire fleet. She can also co-ordinate with other vessels to zero in on targets which may not be approaching her, but any other vessel in the fleet. So the attack need not necessarily be on her, neither does she have to respond to an attack on her. The advanced capabilities ensure synchronised defence mechanism within the entire fleet.
“The ship can be truly classified as a ‘network of networks’ as it’s equipped with sophisticated digital networks, such as Asynchronous Transfer Mode based Integrated Ship Data Network (AISDN), Combat Management System (CMS), Automatic Power Management System (APMS) and Auxiliary Control System (ACS). The AISDN is the information highway on which data from all the sensors and weapon ride. The CMS is used to integrate information from other platforms using indigenous data-link system, to provide Maritime Domain Awareness. The intricate power supply management is done using APMS, and remote control and monitoring of machinery is achieved through the ACS,” a defence spokesperson said.
HI-TECH OPERATION THEATRE
The warship is equipped with a hi-tech operation theatre. “We have a strong tactical data link. It can have voice, data and video transfer through intranet, use of satellite. The operation theatre too is so well-equipped that a surgery can be conducted onboard with the help of telemedicine and video conferencing,” an officer onboard INS Kochi said.
“In terms of indigenous capability, we have made progress in float, propulsion. But we have not been 100% successful in weaponry. So, in terms of numbers (of equipment), we have achieved 70% indigenisation in case of INS Kochi. But if you look at it from the perspective of money, the indigenisation content is 60%. This means, although we have imported a small number of equipment, it is very expensive. The import has been mainly in the fields of weaponry and
some propulsion,” Shrawat said.
Defence Minister Parrikar too did not mince any words while talking about the country’s woeful lack in designing firepower. “We still lack basic design for firepower and other ‘move and fight’ components. Until we reach that level of designing, ‘Make in India’ is not going to be possible,” he said. But he also added, “Within five years, we will have indigenisation in fight capacity.”
“Some major indigenised systems onboard INS Kochi include the Electronic Warfare Suite, Foldable Hanger Doors, Helo Traversing System and Ship’s Stabilisers. Crew comfort is a significant feature of INS Kochi and has been ensured through ergonomically designed accommodation and galley compartments based on modular concept,” a spokesperson said.
“The equipment fitted on the vessel comes from 15 different states. In building this vessel, we have taken the help of around 500 firms from across the country. This ship truly represents India, Bharat,” Shrawat said. He also thanked the Defence Minister for solving difficulties of ship-builders and inspiring enthusiasm in them.
The logo of the ship is the “tough tusker”. The hexagon in the background is the shape of the MFSTAR radar which is the most distinctive feature of its combat capability.
The true heroes of this endeavour are the innumerable minds and pairs of hands that went on to design the warship and integrate the systems. The team, which developed the hardware and software and built the warship and integrated the systems are from Mazagon Dock Limited, the naval designers at Directorate of Naval Design, Warship Overseeing Team, Naval Dockyard, trial and inspection agencies, team of WESEE (Weapons and Electronics Systems Engineering Establishment), Bharat Electronics, L&T, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Godrej, DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation), Western Naval Command and the Indian Navy.
“She is the best in-class. Since she is second-in-class of the P-15A destroyers, we have learnt and inducted a lot of lessons learnt from the first in class — INS Kolkata. The ship has already completed all the machinery trials. So far, there have been no glitches. The ship is likely to complete all the sea trials by November this year. Most of the harbour and sea trials are completed. We will enter part four of the trials soon,” said Commanding Officer of INS Kochi, Gurcharan Singh.
“INS Kochi is in a better battle-worthy condition than INS Kolkata. The same weaponry has been made more capable in her case. In short, the state of proving weapons is much better on INS Kochi,” Shrawat said.