SOURCE: SATYAJEET KUMAR/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Defense minister Rajnath Singh at the formal induction of the second of the four Visakhapatnam class destroyers, indigenously designed by the Indian Navy’s Warship Design Bureau and built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL) said that India will do shipbuilding for the world.
India which has been designing warships like frigates and destroyers for the last 40 years is yet to sell such large displacement vessels while it has had some success with the sale of fast patrol boats and offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) up to 1300-tonne but has not been able to crack niche segment for Naval warships like frigates and destroyers for some time now and its crucial India gets its act right if it wants to be in top exporters of defense equipment in next 15-20 years.
Indian warships like frigates have a very competitive price point that makes them better than European frigates in the segment but can’t compete with Chinese frigates in the export market that undercut Indian frigates in almost all criteria.
Chinese Type 054A frigate as an estimated cost of around $350 million and are mass-produced with the adoption of modular construction methods that allows multiple shipyards to manufacture them at speeds that are nearly impossible to replicate what is also impressive is that Chinese shipyards can manage three shift construction schedule that allows them to deliver Type 054A class frigate within 4 years after concluding its internal trials that include weapons trials all in the timeframe of 4 years.
India’s Nilgiri-class frigate which is still under construction has an estimated cost of around $500 million per ship the first ship will come out in 2023 nearly 6 years after its keel was laid in 2017 and the second ship is expected to be ready in 2024 nearly 5 years after its keel was laid in 2019. In the last 35 or so of building warships in the country, India has been able to bring down construction time by 3 years down from 9 years to 6 years but it is still slow as per International standards where the average construction time for frigate class warships never exceeds 4 years.
The cost of an Indian frigate and a Russian Frigate usually hovers around the $450-500 million mark so it makes India quite favorable in the export market in the Russian sphere of influence. Just for comparison, other frigates that are currently under production like a British frigate will cost around $536 million, and the French FREMM frigate at around $553.9 million.
Indian shipyards need to adopt modular constructions and reduce the manhour that is required to build warships in the country and go robotics so has to reduce labor cost that breaching 30% for every warship that is made in India and bring it to a Chinese average of 22%.
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