The Hindu god of justice and ruler of the waters of the world, Varuna, prefers to travel on a sea monster named Makara, which combines the features of a dolphin, a shark and a crocodile. Makara is a local analogue of the biblical Leviathan. Modern India to protect the national interests of the sea also requires Makari-Leviathans possessing formidable power, but not mythical, but quite real ones. We are talking about the acquisition of a new generation of submarines.
Currently, the Indian Navy contains 14 submarines: the Chakra nuclear submarine of Project 971I, leased from Russia in 2012, 9 diesel-electric submarines (DEPLs) of Project 877EKM, also of Russian manufacture, and 4 diesel-electric submarines of type 209/1500 of German construction. The time is nearing the commissioning of the first Indian nuclear submarine Arihant ("Enemy Fighter") with ballistic missiles. In 2011, the construction of the second submarine of this type, Aridhaman, began at the shipyard in Visakhapatnam (this name is also a synonym for the words “Fighter of Enemies”). At the Mazagon Docks State Shipyard in Mumbai, six diesel-electric submarines of the Scorpene CM-2000 type are being constructed under the project and with the participation of the French company DCNS. This program, worth more than $ 4 billion, is behind the schedule by more than two years. There are many reasons for the delays. Here and the unpreparedness of the Mazagon Docks for such work, and the lack of personnel, and disruptions in the supply of components from France, as well as corruption scandals, which, however, managed to hush up. Now they promise to transfer the lead boat of this type the fleet in 2014, but not the fact that this will happen.
Nearly half of the 13 diesel-electric submarines, listed as part of the Indian Navy, the technical condition wants the best. This primarily refers to the four German-built submarines, which are actually in reserve, since it was them that the French diesel-electric submarines of the Scorpene type should have replaced them in the first place. Now decided to upgrade them. In other words, although the situation with the submarine forces of the Indian Navy can not be called critical, it cannot be categorized as brilliant either. Especially against the background of the situation at the neighbors. The Navy of the People’s Liberation Army of China has more than 60 submarines, including nine strategic nuclear and multi-purpose submarines, as well as completely modern diesel-electric ones. Actively updates the submarine fleet Pakistan. In recent years, it has been supplemented with three French submarines of the Agosta-90B type. The last boat in the series of this project - Hamza - is equipped with an auxiliary air-independent power plant (VNEU), which greatly enhances its tactical capabilities. During scheduled repairs, the first two boats of this project will receive the same installations. Islamabad is now planning to purchase six Yuan-type submarines from China, also from the VNEU, and also announced plans to build its own nuclear-powered nuclear ships.
These circumstances prompted Delhi to organize a tender for the Project 71I (P-71I) non-nuclear submarine (NNS), that is, 71I (India). The tender was known three years ago, but so far its conditions and the tender itself have not been announced. Although some details are known. At stake is almost $ 12 billion. Two boats can be built at the shipyards of the country that won the tender, and four at Indian enterprises. All submarines must be equipped with a VNEU and armed with Russian-Indian supersonic BRAHMOS missiles designed to destroy surface and coastal targets at a distance of up to 300 km. Companies from Germany, Spain, Russia and France will be involved in the tender, which is expected to start before the end of this year.
PROKRUSTOVO FALSE CONDITIONS
The delay in the announcement of the tender is not least due to the fact that the world market today is not able to offer Delhi submarines that fully meet the requirements of the upcoming competition. One of the conditions is the presence of auxiliary or all-mode air independent (anaerobic) installations on boats, which allow submarines to be submerged for up to two or more weeks. This allows us to classify them as non-nuclear submarines. This subclass of submarines, according to a study by experts of the Krylov Center, in the coastal waters exceeds even nuclear-powered ships in its capabilities.
Here you should pay attention to the fact that some authors attribute all diesel-electric boats of the new generation to the NNS. This is not true. It is the presence of anaerobic installations that gives the NNS a new quality and distinguishes them from all other diesel-electric submarines. You can find allegations that the energy-intensive lithium-ion batteries can replace the VNEU. Yes, they will make it possible in the future to increase the range and speed of the underwater course, but they will still not be able to withstand the VNEU for the duration of the work. Do not forget also that the boat lithium-ion batteries exist so far only as prototypes. They still need considerable time to test on board the submarines, the development of crews, etc. In addition, they are very expensive.
There are several types of VNEU: with electrochemical generators (ECH) - in the West they are often called fuel cells, Stirling engines with external heat supply, closed-cycle diesel engines, and also closed-cycle steam turbines. All of them have their pros and cons, and the market has not yet decided on the final choice in favor of any one type of VNEU.
But back to the Indian tender. The weakest positions, in our opinion, are in the S-80 submarines of the Spanish firm Navantia. Although at first glance, it is these NNLs that should lead. Submarines are based on French submarines of the type Scorpene CM-2000, which were built for export at Navantia shipyards. However, the S-80 features are more impressive. Their underwater displacement is 2426 t, length is 71 m, the maximum underwater travel speed is 19 knots. Armament includes torpedoes and Harpoon anti-ship missiles, which are fired through six torpedo tubes. The boats have an original power plant operating on bioethanol (ethyl alcohol). Hydrogen for a VNEU with fuel cells is extracted directly on board the boat by reforming hydrogen from ethanol. These anaerobic plants should theoretically increase the time the submarines stay under water up to 28 days, however, in practice, as noted by authoritative sources, this time is unlikely to exceed 20 days. Due to the widespread introduction of automation, the submarine crew consists of only 32 people for whom comfortable living conditions have been created. Reserved space for eight combat swimmers with weapons and related equipment. On boats of this type is possible to insert a compartment with launchers BRAHMOS.
However, with the S-80 there was an embarrassment. In May of this year, it turned out that in designing these submarines, serious miscalculations were made. In any case, the Isaac Peral head submarine turned out to be heavier than the calculated parameters on the 68. That is, the boat may not float after diving. To correct the error, which was the result of a lack of experience among Spanish designers, it would take about two years. Navantia has signed an agreement with a leading US submarine company, General Dynamics Electric Boat, to help upgrade the project. It is clear that to compensate for the overweight, Isaac Peral will require an increase in volume, including by lengthening the body. But for every meter you’ve increased, you’ll have to pay 7,5 million euros.
Delhi is unlikely to decide to acquire submarines designed by not very skillful specialists. In addition, there are questions to the VNEU, which has not yet worked on any "live" ship.
Therefore, the chances of the Scorpene AM-2000 NPSL of the French company DCNS look more preferable. It differs from the Scorpene diesel submarine with increased length and displacement (70 m versus 61,7 m and 1870 t versus 1565 t) due to the tie-in of the VNEU compartment with the MESMA closed-loop steam turbine. For the first time such an anaerobic plant was introduced on the Pakistani submarine Hamza. But judging because the Navy of this country intends in the future to switch to a different type of VNEU (Stirling engines on boats of the Chinese project), it can be argued that MESMA is not the best option for Project 71I submarines. After all, the French VNEU low efficiency.
Delhi is hardly encouraging, and more than two-year delay in delivery of the diesel-electric submarine Scorpene CM-2000. In addition, the inclusion of BRAHMOS missiles in the submarine’s armament will require substantial revision of the project. On the other hand, since 2005, DCNS has worked very closely with the command of the Navy, industry, government and political circles of India, and has developed connections with very different levels of government. And, whatever one may say, the Scorpene AM-2000 is one of the modifications of the Scorpene CM-2000, which is already being mass-produced at the Mazagon Docks shipyard. That is, to build their construction will be easier than the submarines of other projects.
Anti-ship cruise missile complex Club-S
But more often, the favorite of the upcoming tender is called 214-type submarines of the German shipbuilding concern ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS). Their underwater displacement is 1860 T, length is 65 m. The maximum submarine speed is 20 knots, and the cruising range reaches 12 000 miles (19 300 km), autonomy is 84 days. The crew consists of 27 people. The prototype of these boats with fuel cell VNEU and with hydrogen content in a bound form in the intermetallic compound (metal alloy with high hydrogen content) are 212A type submarines, which are used by the Navy of Germany and Italy. Using an anaerobic installation, 214 type naval cells on four nodes are able to go under water up to 1248 miles (2311 km). Harpoon torpedoes and anti-ship missiles are fired from eight bow torpedo tubes.
Type 214 submarines differ from their prototypes in hull material. Non-magnetic steel is used on German and Italian boats, which makes them invisible to aviation detection means. Export submarines, however, are built from unclassified HY-100 ship steel. The differences are not limited to this. On type 212A submarines, fuel cell modules are located in the keel area, which complicates their maintenance in bases, since the boats require docking. In order to avoid this operation, on type 214 submarines, these modules were moved to the upper part of the hull behind the fence of the retractable devices. This simplified the maintenance, but the castling, which was simple at first glance, turned into unpleasant consequences.
Papanikolis, the head-type 214, launched in the 2004 year, was shown to have problems with seaworthiness during tests on the surface position on the Greek naval submarine. Due to a change in metacentric height, she was swaying dangerously on a wave, like a hunk. Sometimes the roll reached 46 degrees. In addition, the fuel cells overheated on the boat, and the power of the VNEU did not reach the declared level. The cavitation of the propeller and the vibration of the non-penetrating periscope were also disturbing. The Greek Navy refused to accept a boat. However, the Germans energetically began to eliminate the shortcomings. It took them a few years. In particular, in order to prevent rocking, they moved 21 and ship equipment from the top of the hull to the bottom. As a result, in 2010, the naval forces of Hellas still included Papanikolis. Another boat of this type according to the revised project is assembled at the Greek shipyard Hellenic Shipyards and two more are being built there. There is an option for two more buildings, but because of the acute economic crisis the country is going through, it is not clear whether it will be realized.
Problems arose during the commissioning of the South Korean type 214 boats (total ordered nine units). The first boats of the series were too noisy. And this defect TKMS had to be fixed.
Despite the above disadvantages, the elimination of which was spent a lot of effort, time and money, 214-type naval submarines are the most massive in their class. Taking into account the six units ordered by the Turkish Navy, their fleet in the foreseeable future will be 19 or 21 units. Two submarines of the type NNXXPN of the Portuguese Navy, also built by TKMS, are very close to them in tactical and technical characteristics. This is why the chances of 209 in the Indian tender are highly valued. However, they also have at least two “but”. First, the acquisition at the beginning of the 214 of the last century from the German firm HDW, which is now a part of TKMS, four XDUMX / 80 diesel-electric submarines was marked by one of the largest corruption scandal in India, whose waves have not subsided to this day. Secondly, for armament of 209-type naval missiles, the BRAHMOS missiles will have to radically remake the project, in fact, re-create it. After all, where vertical launchers are to be located, modules with ECH are now located.
However, TKMS has a “joker” in its pocket - a project of 216-type naval submarines with a displacement of 4000 tons. This is certainly an innovative project. The power plant of the submarine is a diesel-electric one with a new generation auxiliary VNEU on electrochemical generators. It will allow four-week uninterrupted scuba diving under water and 2400 miles on four knots. The use of lithium-ion batteries will provide an opportunity at high speeds to attack and move away from the enemy for quite a long time. To speed up the charging of batteries, the use of new diesel-electric generators of increased power is provided.
The durable hull, just like the 212A type, is divided into two compartments. In the nose is important weapon boats - six torpedo tubes for firing torpedoes and anti-ship missiles. Ammunition - 18 units of weapons that can be released on the enemy with a quick-loading device in a short time. Behind the fence of retractable devices is a module for the vertical launch of several Tomahawk-type cruise missiles, but these could also be BRAHMOS missiles. Instead, they can be placed remotely controlled underwater vehicles or equipment for special forces soldiers. In the stern of the submarine - a special place for a mini-submarine to transport commandos to the place of operation. And in the light case - the gateway for their exit and reception under water.
In a lightweight case, there are also places for anti-torpedo launchers and shooting false targets. A retractable 30-mm automatic artillery installation for firing at helicopters and light boats when the boat is under water can be accommodated in the fence of retractable devices adjacent to the masts of optocoupler periscopes, communication antennas and radars. There is also a container for storing and launching an unmanned aerial vehicle.
Of particular interest are hydroacoustic tools. According to the Naval Forces magazine, with a complete set (bow gas with a conformal antenna, airborne gas towers, towed antenna array and gas detection mines), they can be used to monitor underwater conditions in either direction in passive and active modes. The submarine will be located in the center of the sphere, where you can see, or rather hear, everything.
But the 216 project is being developed with a view to winning another tender - an Australian project using the SEA1000 program worth almost 34 billion dollars for 12 submarines. It is likely that the Germans can offer these boats or a simplified version of them to the Indians. However, in any case, the project will take a lot of time and investment.
CHANGES OF "AMURA"
Unfortunately, Russia does not yet have serial samples of anaerobic plants. Only recently, TsKB MT Rubin completed bench tests of the VNEU with an ECG. This is a fuel cell engine with reforming of diesel fuel - with the release of hydrogen from it, which avoids the storage of an explosive product on board the submarine. This VNEU is much more economical than the German counterpart. But, alas, this is still an experienced specimen. Such an installation is planned to be placed only on the third or fourth boat of the 677 "Lada" project - the Amur-1650 prototype (677E project), which Rosoboronexport and TsBB MT Rubin are going to submit to the Indian tender.
Unfortunately, the lack of spent in real conditions VNEU - not the only drawback of the Russian submarine. So far, it has not been possible to bring to mind the all-mode main propeller motor SED-1. He does not reach the required contract capacity. There are claims to a number of other components and assemblies. That is why diesel submarines B-585 "St. Petersburg" - the main project of 677 - was accepted by the Russian Navy only for trial operation. Moreover, in February 2012, the then Navy Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, announced that the fleet refused to further acquire the boats of this project. However, later it was reported that submarines of this type will still be built, but according to a revised project.
Lada is the brainchild and victim of a decade and a half of Russia's deindustrialization. The country's industry simply could not pull out an innovative project. The tattered, inadequate funding, the rupture of cooperative ties, the collapse of entire industries and enterprises, of course, had the most detrimental effect on the fate of the submarine, on which more than 130 completely new advanced systems, assemblies and models of armaments were to be introduced.
The Indians, of course, monitor the situation with the "Lada". Of course, they are also not inspired by reports of the intention of Russia and China to cooperate in creating naval submarines for the PLA Navy based on the 677 project.
We must not forget about the possible negative impact on the decision-making on the tender for the death of 14 in August of this year, the diesel-electric submarines Sindhurakshak of the project 877EKM. And although many high-ranking officers of the Indian Navy believe that the cause of the explosion on board this submarine was non-compliance with safety procedures, in the minds of many Indians, including politicians, the disaster occurred on the “Russian” submarine.
Still, Amur-1650 has chances in an Indian tender. The indisputable advantages of the Russian boat include the presence of weapons that fully meet the conditions of the tender. The Club-S missile system, which can be used for single and salvo attacks on sea and coastal targets, is already used on Indian submarines of the 877EKM project and has proven itself well. It can be used on "Amur". Russian designers had also foreseen the armament of the boat with BRAHMOS missiles. They are located in the central part of the body in vertical launchers. Now the company BrahMos Aerospase is developing a hypersonic rocket. It is designed for use with offshore and air platforms.
Indian designers are developing their own VNEU. Moscow and Delhi may well unite efforts in this area. And it’s not by chance that the statement following the recent Moscow talks between Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh stresses: “The parties agreed to expand cooperation in the field of rocket and naval technologies and weapon systems.”
Do not forget about the main purpose of the Russian submarines project 677. They were created primarily as hunters for enemy submarines. Possessing almost zero noise, the Lada-Amur with the Lyra hydroacoustic complex with a large quasi-conformal antenna is capable of detecting, and therefore, the first to attack the enemy. Agree, this is an important quality. Now "St. Petersburg", arrived on October 13 17 in the Northern Fleet, is preparing for the next phase of testing, including deep-sea.
India is very interested in leasing the second submarine of the 971I project, which in its tactical and technical characteristics is superior to any existing PLA Navy nuclear submarine. On the second case, it is possible to provide for the placement of a section with launchers for BRAHMOS and include this option in the overall package of proposals for the Project 71I program.
In any case, the lord of the world's waters, Varuna, must make a difficult but fair choice. This mission requires it.