Guided missile frigate INS Betwa, which had suffered a mishap at the Naval dockyard in Mumbai in 2016, is expected to join the fleet in the “third quarter” of 2019 with “improved capacity”, Vice Admiral Girish Luthra said here Monday.
One of the key warships of the Western Naval Command, the 3,850-tonne and 126-metre long frigate is armed with Uran anti-ship missiles, Barak 1 surface-to-air missiles and torpedoes.
“INS Betwa is undergoing refit and its capacity is being improved. Machinery as well as other equipment is being refitted. The ship will be fully ready by the third quarter of 2019,” vice admiral Luthra told reporters on the eve of Navy Day.
Two crew members were killed when the ship tipped over to its side during a refit at the Naval Dockyard during dry docking in December 2016.
Naval sources had said that repairing of INS Betwa had taken longer than expected.
Responding to another query, the vice admiral said refitting work worth Rs 750 crore of the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya has been completed in a shorter period.
“The refitting work of the aircraft carrier was supposed to be over by November 30, but we completed it 12 days in advance. Now the flying operations on the carrier have commenced,” said the vice admiral.
He also underlined the need to induct more aircraft carriers into the naval fleet.
“Shore-based aircraft cannot be sufficient to meet the needs though they may have the capacity to stay in air for a longer time. Having an aircraft carrier in the naval fleet is the philosophy that is going to stay in foreseeable future,” the vice admiral said.
Last year, the Ministry of Defence had decided to put on hold the Navy’s plan to build the second aircraft carrier due to its high cost.
A committee set up by the ministry in 2016 had recommended investments in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands for developing longer runways for fighter aircraft instead of a carrier.
Meanwhile, commenting on the need for amphibious assault ships, also known as Landing Platform Docks (LPDs), the vice admiral said, “Four LPDs are to be acquired by our government. Two companies are in the fray currently but ships will be built in India. The project cost is estimated to be around Rs 20,000 crore”.
When asked about the kind of information related to supersonic missile Brahmos that was allegedly leaked by an engineer in October this year, the vice admiral said, “I had not gone into details of the type of information related to Brahmos missiles that was reportedly got leaked. I do not have adequate details to tell you whether any information was compromised or not”.
Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squads (ATS) had arrested the BrahMos Aerospace unit engineer Nishant Agrawal from Nagpur in Maharashtra for allegedly leaking the “technical information” to Pakistan.