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The Indian Navy is gearing up to bolster its amphibious capabilities with a fleet of Landing Platform Docks (LPDs) built indigenously. This follows a Request for Information (RFI) issued in 2021. Two Indian shipyards, Cochin Shipyards Ltd (CSL) and Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd (GRSE), have thrown their hats in the ring with their own designs. Additionally, L&T Shipbuilding and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) have proposed designs based on collaborations with international OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers).

The LPDs envisioned by the Navy will boast an impressive capacity. Each vessel is expected to accommodate a crew of 540 sailors and carry up to 900 troops. These behemoths will measure approximately 200 meters in length and displace up to 8 meters of water when fully loaded. In terms of speed, a cruising speed of 14 to 16 knots is desired, with a remarkable range of 10,000 nautical miles at economical speed for extended deployments.

A significant feature is the emphasis on electric propulsion. The RFI specifies the need for an Integrated Full Electric Propulsion or Hybrid Propulsion system, reflecting the Navy’s commitment to modern and efficient technologies.

The LPDs won’t shy away from a fight. The Navy seeks them to be equipped with a robust armament suite, including 32 Vertical Launch Short Range Surface to Air Missiles (VLSRSAM) for air defense and 16 anti-ship missiles for offensive capabilities. Additionally, the RFI calls for a Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) with electro-optical fire control, heavy machine guns with stabilized mounts, directed energy weapons (as a potential future replacement for CIWS), and medium machine guns.

The LPDs will be outfitted with a comprehensive sensor suite to ensure superior situational awareness. This includes a combined air and surface surveillance radar, a 3D air surveillance radar, a surface surveillance radar, electronic warfare support systems, and an electro-optical/infrared search and track system.

The design calls for a “through deck” configuration, essentially making them Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs) rather than standard LPDs. This configuration allows for flight operations directly from the hangar to the landing deck. The envisioned air complement is impressive: at least two heavy lift helicopters, 12 special operations helicopters, and two Naval Ship-borne Unmanned Aerial Systems (NSUAS). The design should enable simultaneous operations of at least four special operations helicopters, with the potential to integrate an NSUAS into the mix. The hangar will accommodate at least 12 special operations helicopters and two NSUAS, while the deck will provide space for two heavy lift helicopters with folded blades. The design prioritizes flexibility by allowing the operation of heavy lift helicopters from the reinforced forward deck area.

By opting for an indigenous design, the Indian Navy seeks to not only bolster its amphibious warfare capabilities but also promote domestic shipbuilding expertise. This project holds significance for India’s self-reliance in defense manufacturing.

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