The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) will launch the final Shivalik-class frigate, the Mahendragiri, on 1 September, concluding all of the launches under Project 17A, a seven ship programme for the Indian Navy.

Shivalik-class frigates are a multi-role steal craft built for the Indian Navy. They are the first Indian warships to be built with stealth features and will be the lead frigates of the country’s navy during the first quarter of the 21st century. The newly christened Mahendragiri features improved stealth features, advanced weapons, and sensors and platform management systems.

The first of the new Shivalik frigates in this programme is expected to be commissioned next year.

They are less detectable to the enemy due to structural, thermal, and acoustic stealth features. The radar systems and engines are also adjusted in order to lessen and prevent detection and noise levels. Klub anti-ship and BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles provide powerful strike capabilities. Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) builds the fire control systems utilised aboard these frigates, which are designed by DRDO.

The Shivalik-class frigates measure in at 143 metres in length and 16.9 metres across and are powered by petrol and diesel turbines and have a 4,900t displacement. The frigates can accommodate a maximum complement of 257, including 37 officers.

India’s surface navy investments

From the 17A programme, four of the ships were built by makers Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and three by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), manufacturers of the Mahendragiri. Production has been in support of India’s policy of self reliance, with 75% of the orders confirmed being conducted through indigenous firms, according to a release from India’s MoD. In 1997, the Government of India placed an order worth INR8.1bn with MDL to construct and deliver three frigates under Project-17, with each frigate expected to cost $650m.

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The Indian Navy is investing in both its surface fleet and helicopters, and has already placed an order for 16 shallow water ASW corvettes as of 2019. Unlike the P-28 ASW corvette, these corvettes are meant to operate in shallow coastal seas and are significantly smaller in size. The INS Vikrant aircraft carrier, which was supposed to go into service in 2021, was delayed and was finally commissioned on 2 September, 2022. Similarly, two of the four P-15B destroyers have been commissioned, with the remaining two expected to join service between 2023 and 2024.

In response to the recent acquisition eight Yuan-class submarines by Pakistan, the Indian Navy has made it clear that it wants to improve its ASW capabilities, and it plans to order six to ten new P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. However, according to GlobalData’s ‘India Defense Market 2023-2028‘ report, plans to acquire more P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) have been cancelled in favour of constructing Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft (MMMA) based on the C-295 platform.