Next generation missile vessels (NGMV) is an Indian naval programme to make fast attack and powerful corvettes that will supersede the Kora class and Abhay class corvettes. The need for such corvettes is in alignment with the requirement of the Indian Navy to achieve thier ambition of having 200 ships. The last Kora class corvette for the Indian Navy INS Karmuk was commissioned in August 2004. Therefore, the Kora class has already been in service for 16+ years. Hence it is time to act for a suitable replacement which can be commissioned within the coming 5 years, optimistically speaking.
The RFI for the NGMV was issued by the MoD under the “Buy Indian and Make Indian” category for 6 missile corvettes in January 2015. Let us take a look at some key requirements of this programme as enlisted in the RFI.
Range and Speed
The range of the ship should not be less than 2,800 nautical miles (about 5,185 km) at sustained economical speed and 1,000 nautical miles (1,852 km) at maximum speed. The maximum speed of the ship should not be less than 35 knots (about 65 kmph). The maximum sustained speed should not be less than 25 knots (about 46 kmph). The ship should be capable of operating at low speed of 10 knots for at least eight hours continuously. Restriction in engine hours should not be an overbearing consideration, to enable flexibility in tasking.
The ship should be able to sustain at sea at economical speed for a minimum of 10 days without Operational Turn Around, with 25 per cent reserve fuel remaining on board. The ship should also have the ability to undertake astern fuelling from tankers/capital ships to increase its endurance at sea.
The propulsion system should be able to provide the requisite power to weight ratio required for the ship. The propulsion system should also cater for greater endurance and operations in low speed regimes during Low Intensity Maritime Operations (LIMO) or exclusive economic zone (EEZ) patrols. The main engines should be capable of achieving the rated speed at 85 per cent Maximum Continuous Rating (MCR) of the engine. The propulsion system should be suitably designed to meet the stealth requirements of the ship. The ship’s MCR should have automate and remote monitoring and indication and control capability for all machinery including power generation and distribution.
The ship should carry a minimum of eight surface-to-surface missiles (SSM). The ship should be fitted with a Point Defence Missile System (PDMS) for providing credible near 360-degree anti-missile defence (AMD) coverage to the ship. It should be able to engage sea-skimming missiles, flying 3-5 metres above sea level, up to a maximum of Mach 3. A gun with stealth features having range not less than 15 km and capability to carry out surface-to-surface, surface-to-air and AMD engagements should be fitted. It should have the facility to be remote using fire control radar as well as electro-optical (EO) sight. The close in weapon system (CIWS) should be with radar and EO guided to double up as LIMO weapon. The placement of CIWS should be such that it provides near 360-degree AMD protection without requirement of course alteration. The ship should be fitted with suitable chaff system to provide passive electronic counter measures capability against in-coming missiles. It should be capable of firing chaff in all-round directions in distraction, seduction and centroid modes.
The design of the ship should incorporate features to minimise RCS and IR signatures. IR suppression features should be added onto the ship’s exhaust system. Stealth fittings should be considered. The hull should be made of DMR 249A steel (jointly developed indigenously by DRDO/SAIL) and superstructure is to be made of DMR 249A steel/aluminium. Shock mounts and low vibrations to ensure low acoustic noise should also be an integral part of the design.
On February 23, 2021 at the Ministry of Defence, New Delhi, Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) has been declared as L1 (the lowest bidder) in the tender floated by the Indian Navy for the construction of six…Next Generation Missile Vessels (NGMV),” CSL said in a regulatory filing to the BSE. The estimated order value is around Rs 10,000 crore, the company said.
Various NGMV designs
CSL, GRSE, GSL and L&T responded to this RFI. And very recently CSL emerged as the L-1 bidder. Let us take a look at the various designs submitted by these firms.
Visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9LLAug7eII&t=119s for video coverage.
The GSL Design is a modified version of Russia’s Project 22160 patrol ship. The design is very stealthy with concealed SAM and SSMs within the decks.
The GRSE design also incorporates stealth features. The Naval gun is at the front. The RHIBs are present amidships on both port and starboard side. The CIWS is kept aft of the RHIBs.
The CSL which emerged as the L-1 bidder has a very unique design on many aspects. There is a total of 4 slant Brahmos with 2 each on port and starboard side. In addition to this 2 missiles can be seen atop the bridge which seems to be like Barak-1. Apart from that 2 missiles in vertical configuration can be seen right behind the naval gun. We speculate this to be 2 more Barak-1 in a vertical configuration. The remaining 4 white circles are nothing but bitts.
Aft of those one can see RBU for anti-submarine operations. Further aft we see the radar systems, the citadel and a RHIB. Right behind the citadel we see 5 cylindrical tubes. These definitely are not any weaponry but perhaps could be for miscellaneous purposes.
To the aft of this, we see 4 CIWS placed to ensure a 360 degree close range defence. To the aft of this we can see an 8 cell VLS launcher and the missile perhaps looks like Brahmos.
And finally to the aft we have the helipad. It is also quite noticable of what looks like a small runway. Why this being kept is still not clear, especially raising a possibility whether a small UAV can also be operated.
Hence based on design we can conclude the major armament as:
- 4 slant Brahmos 2 each on port and starboard side + 8 cell VLS at aft (> min 8 SSMs)
- 2 slant Barak-1/Astra + 2 vertical launch Astra (SRSAM)
- RBU (anti-submarine operations)
- 4 CIWS (ensures 360 degree coverage)
- VSHORAD (probably MANPAD)
NGMV and the future
The NGMVs are designed for speeds in excess of 35 knots and hence the idea is to have small fast attack vessels with precision missiles. A contract for 6 NGMVs worth Rs.10000 crore has been awarded to CSL as of now. However considering the various aging class of corvettes Indian Navy has, this number may have to be increased.
The NGMVs can be turned into an LCS programme with subsequent vessels being configured for different roles. 6 NGMVs mean 72 Brahmos, thereby increasing the deterence capabilities of the Indian Navy. The NGMVs would definitely be increased in number going forward upwards of 10 to 12. That would provide distributed lethality given the very accurate and very low CEP of 1 m for the Brahmos. This would be an important part of Navy’s ambition to be a fleet of 200 ships.