Indian Navy Contracts 8 New Amphibious Vessels
Expediting expeditionary warfare: Landing craft are still on the shopping lists for many modern forces. Photo: navy.mil
India has highlighted its intentions of enhancing its amphibious warfare and coastal protection capabilities by signing a contract with the GRSE Kolkata shipyard to begin building eight new Landing Craft Utility (LCU) vessels at a cost of around £272 million.
The vessels will powered by two diesel engines and weigh in at 800 tonnes each, with delivery of the first ship projected for the end of 2014.
It is expected that the fleet will be based at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Command (ANC), which has its headquarters at Point Blair. The theatre command guards the strategic gateway between East Asia and the Bay of Bengal.
Owing to the success of the deal, it is likely that the Navy will now finalise a follow-up contract to introduce four Landing Platform Docks (LPDs) at a further cost of £207 million. These will be tasked with delivering the armoured vehicles and other logistical assets once the LCUs have carried ground troops to the shore to secure the battlefield.
Currently, the Indian Navy operates only one LPD; INS Jalashwa. However, alongside the new platforms, it will also be developing new training facilities and amphibious exercise programmes.
Earlier this year, Jalashwa was incorporated into India’s Theatre Level Operational Readiness Exercise (TROPEX), the Navy’s largest annual exercise, shortly after participation in war games alongside U.S. forces. The simulated battle consisted of joint forces aiding marine invasion efforts.
Other Asia-Pacific forces either looking to invest in amphibious platforms or already augmenting their amphibious fleets, include China, Japan, Republic of Korea, and Australia.