Vice Admiral S R Sarma – COM & CWP&A of the Indian Navy and Shri V L Kantha Rao Additional Secretary (Defence Production) laid the keel of the third ship (Yard- 12653) of the prestigious P17A class stealth frigates on 10 Sep 2020. Seven frigates under P17A series will be constructed of which four are being constructed in MDL and three in GRSE with MDL as the lead yard. The P17A class frigates are being built using indigenously developed steel and fitted with weapons and sensors along with Integrated Platform Management System. These ships are having stealth features. The keel laying ceremony was conducted through an e-platform in the presence of Vice Admiral R B Pandit, Chief of Staff, HQWNC and Vice Admiral Narayan Prasad (IN Retd.) – CMD MDL.
The Nilgiri-class frigate or Project 17A is a follow-on of the Project 17 Shivalik-class frigate for the Indian Navy. Construction of P17A ships differ in the very concept of warship building by way of adoption of the modern technology ‘Integrated Construction (IC)’ where the blocks are pre-outfitted before joining to reduce the build period of warships. When commissioned the platforms will enhance the combat capability of the Indian Naval fleet. A total of seven ships will be built at Mazagon Dock and GRSE. The ships have been named after the first major warships to be built in India, which in turn were named after hill ranges in India. The construction of the first ship started in 2017 and the first ship is expected to delivered by 2022.
The experience gained in designing the Shivalik-class frigates (Project 17) will be applied to the Project 17A. This class will improve upon the earlier class in terms of stealth. They will have covered mooring deck and the number of antennae on the ship will be reduced by using EL/M-2248 MF-STAR AESA radar. The P17A will also feature better roll stabilisation and a discreet visual profile. The weapon platform in the P17A ships will be compact and they will be armed with the Barak 8 and BrahMos. The weapon systems will be flush deck mounted allowing vertical launch of missiles from under the deck. The crew complement will be reduced from the existing 257 (including 35 officers) to about 150 by using high levels of automation, which will reduce the operational costs by around 20 per cent and result in higher operational availability of the warships.
Four of the frigates will be constructed by Mazagon Dock Ltd in Mumbai and three by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers in Kolkata. India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved the proposal of Ministry of Defence for starting the Project 17A design-cum-construction programme in September 2012. The first ship is expected to be commissioned by August 2022. The frigates will be equipped with Barak 8 (LR-SAM), BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, Ajanta electronic warfare system and Humsa-NG sonar. In September 2018, MDL and GRSE awarded Bharat Electronics Limited with a $1.28 billion contract to supply seven Barak-8 air defence systems. In October 2018, Bharat Electronics Limited signed a $777 million deal with Israel Aircraft Industries to help fulfil the Barak-8 order.