Cutting edge

INS Shivalik’s commissioning into the Indian Navy is a matter of pride for India. It is India’s first indigenously-built stealth frigate. With its commissioning, India has joined an exclusive club of seven other countries that have the capability to build stealth warships. India has other stealth frigates but with Shivalik, it has a state-of the art one that carries a made-in-India label. The Indian Navy and India’s shipbuilding industry have displayed admirable capability in design and building of a new generation stealth frigate with futuristic technologies. This is undoubtedly a major accomplishment and a feather in the cap of India’s engineers. Shivalik will give the navy an important edge. It can be seen, no doubt, but cannot be easily detected by enemy radar. Every surface of the ship is so constructed to deflect radar signals.

Shivalik’s stealth will allow it to sneak up to the enemy undetected and destroy him with a range of high-tech weaponry it carries on board. And it is armed with sharp teeth, indeed. Shivalik is equipped for nuclear and chemical battles too. What adds to Shivalik’s value is that its designers have kept the comfort of its crew in mind while conceiving it. Unlike other warships which expect sailors to make do with tinned food and cramped living quarters, Shivalik will provide our naval men (and women) edible food and decent living quarters.

Shivalik provides pointers to how India’s military hardware is evolving. This stealth ship is made in India perhaps but it also carries systems and components from countries like the US, UK, Russia and Israel. This serves as a reminder that to emerge as a formidable fighting force, India should draw on the best of Russian and western technologies, in a way that best suits its military needs and strategy.

Excessive dependence on one or other country to meet our defence needs is not in India’s best interests.

Doubts have often been raised about India’s capability for defence production. DRDO is often derided as a ‘white elephant’ which has consumed funds and has little to show for it. Indeed, its projects have suffered from horrendous cost overruns and delays. In sharp contrast India’s shipbuilding industry has scored several successes and Shivalik is among them. This is a world-class stealth warship at Indian prices.

India has the potential to emerge as a global shipbuilding powerhouse. Shivalik is a concrete symbol of that capability.

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