Friday, April 3, 2015

Indian Navy LHD the Multi-Role Support Vessel

Indian Navy LHD the Multi-Role Support Vessel

The Juan Carlos LHD showing it's LST's and Fixed and Rotary wing Aircrafts

        The LHD project or the Navy's multi role support vessel is the long pending naval ship building contract, for which a tender was announced in November 2013, and, the initial contract is under the Buy and Make category, the same make in India Plan, under the contract the foreign vender builds two LHD's in its shipyard and last two will be built in India under Transfer of Technology except the engines and other crucial technology. 

      But the project was shelved for more than five years and till now, the MoD had received responses from foreign ship builders time and again, but several countries offered their models to India, from Juan Carlos LHD to French Mistral which was recently notified, by some interior reports Indian officials denied the offer due to podded propulsion system. Mistral offered the ships built for Russia and new customized model of Mistral.

         Here two main factors have led to the denial of Mistral, Primarily Mistral was built for Russian standards under a Russia and French agreement which means nearly 40% of the ship’s hull was initially built in Russia, Russian built systems were integrated with the ship which would mean a ToT clause would not be applicable here.

    ToT would require Indian ship builders to be part of the ship building process from the start and working together with the foreign shipyards. Here Indian requirements is clearly for a LHD type, which have more number of helicopters and use small landing crafts for beach landing unlike LST the ship which themselves land in beaches for assault, the LHD is having good factors. 

       More helicopters and units, which is more important for amphibious assault can be easily integrated with the ship. The ship is able to land based defence batteries and the ship can be effectively used for humanitarian support and war time evacuation missions.

          Indian navy currently operates a sizeable fleet of these of LST's and the American transferred Jalashwa and the Viraat carrier itself which is a Good LHD, where it can carry good number of fixed and rotary wing crafts, so the need of LHD remains vacant, which would be important for beach assault.

       GoI has allowed three Indian Ship builders who can build these huge ships. The Indian shipyards are required to have a contract with foreign vendors for work share agreements. L&T has collaborated with Spain's Juan Carlos, the Pipavav with French DCNS for Mistrals, and ABG with American Alion Technology's, where they are currently involved in designing and modelling most of the US Navy Ships.

      The Mistral is a good Platform for LHD oriented missions, Mistral is a 20,000 Tons with capabilities of carrying good number of helicopters and small number of landing crafts and air cushioned vehicles, along with good endurance and range. Mistral can carry up to 16 Chinooks or 25 Sea Hawk helicopters clubbed along with attack helicopters, along with some 10 to 20 tanks with 500 fully armed assault troops with two to three air cushioned vehicles for support the Beach landing.

       The other competitor is the Spain Juan Carlos. Juan Carlos is equipped with a Ski Jump capability, which can launch Fighters ranging from AV 8B and F 35 B, meanwhile the Mistral too can launch such VTOL crafts but Juan has an upper edge with the Ski jump capability which is easy for launching aircraft's, recently the Australian forces have taken delivery of its Juan LHD from Spain.

          The LHD's won't be armed with any offensive suites, like land attack cruise missiles or air defence missile; they are usually armed with smaller number of HMG's and one or two CIWS weapons. A destroyer or frigate is needed to escort these crucial LHD’s. If Indian forces had been armed with these ships as of now, we could have evacuated 4000 of our citizens from war torn Yemen in one or two runs, while as of now the need for five frontline warships to evacuate such mass peoples from Yemen is required.

The Mistral Capability of Joint Amphibious Assault 

Back side view of Mistral showing It's Docking Facility

Mistral Cutaway infographic

Juan Carlos LHD Cutaway infographic

Artistic impression of Juan Carlos conducting Beach Assault
Editor Karthik Kakoor

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