India's Cochin Shipyard Tapped for Brahmaputra-class Frigate MLU – Naval News

Naval News Staff 20 Oct 2023
Indian MoD press release
The Ministry of Defence signed a contract on October 16, 2023, in New Delhi for Mid Life Upgrade and Re-Powering of “INS Beas” with Kochi-based M/S Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) at an overall cost of Rs. 313.42 Cr.
INS Beas is the first of Brahmaputra Class Frigate to be re-powered from Steam to Diesel Propulsion. After completion of Mid Life Upgrade and Re- Powering in 2026, INS Beas will join the active fleet of the Indian Navy with a modernized weapon suite and upgraded combat capability.
The transformative maiden re-powering project marks a significant stride in the maintenance philosophy of the Indian Navy and repair capabilities of M/s CSL. The project would involve more than 50 MSMEs and would lead to generation of employment for more than 3500 personnel.
The project will be a proud flag bearer of Atmanirbhar Bharat in consonance with the Make-in-India initiative of the Government of India.
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INS Beas is the last of the Brahmaputra-class frigates and was inducted in 2005. Other ships of the class are INS Brahmaputra and INS Betwa. The ships were built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE). The frigates feature steam propulsion turbines, turbo alternators, diesel alternators, and steam auxiliaries made by Indian firms such as BHEL and HAL. The exact choice of diesel engines to be installed in INS Beas remains unclear with Indian efforts to indigenize diesel and gas turbine-based naval propulsion being relatively nascent.
Plans regarding the “modernized weapon suite and upgraded combat capability” also remain unknown. However, the larger Delhi class destroyers underwent an MLU in recent years which could provide certain indications. INS Beas was among the first Indian ships to receive the Israeli Barak-1 short-range surface-to-air missile, with orders placed even before its sister ships. DRDO’s VL-SRSAM is a potential option to replace this system, although the 2026 delivery timeframe puts the incorporation of such a developmental system into question.
The Brahmaputra class was among the first to receive the BHEL-manufactured Oto Melara 76mm SRGM. A newer iteration of the SRGM is a possible replacement for the old gun. INS Beas is likely to receive major updates to its radar, sonar, combat management system, and EW systems. The addition of new decoys and torpedoes is also a possibility.
That said, the most consequential upgrade in combat capability is likely to be in the form of inclined BrahMos missile launchers replacing the 16 Kh-35 missile tubes currently on INS Beas. The Delhi class had received such an upgrade, with two four-cell inclined launchers replacing the Kh-35 launchers. The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile is currently undergoing a spate of trials for range extension, with ranges of 400 km proven from naval ships repeatedly. Further extension of the range to 600km and beyond is being worked on. Even with the original range of 300km, the frigate would be witnessing a substantial leap in capability when coupled with upgraded sensors and networking.
It remains unclear if INS Brahmaputra and INS Betwa will undergo a similar repowering program in the future. INS Betwa was brought back to service in 2020 after being capsized at the dock during a major refit in 2016. This necessitated a significant resurrection of the propulsion setup.
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