New Delhi (UPI) Sep 22, 2009
The Indian navy has launched a stealth destroyer capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
The INS Kochi, a 6,500-ton warship, will add its force to the existing Indian fleet, which includes the INS Delhi, INS Mysore and INS Mumbai.
Defense observers say the latest launch, the second of the Indian navy's three stealthy Project-15-A or Kolkotas-class destroyers, is part of India's state quest to become a dominating nuclear naval force in the Arabian Sea.
"Launching the warship is an important milestone in the construction process," Adm. Madhulika Verma said at the launch ceremony, according to the Indian Express.
Built by Mazagon Dock, India's state-owned shipyard, and designed by the Directorate of Naval Design, "the INS Kochi will be fitted with supersonic BrahMos missile and long-range surface-to-air missiles," Defense News reported Tuesday.
A senior Defense Ministry official quoted by Defense News said the Kochi was launched "via a pontoon-assisted launch procedure, with aerial support from two multi-role helicopters."
It is the first launch of its kind to be used in India.
The INS Kochi also has a built-in feature that makes the vessel less vulnerable to be spotted by enemy radar.
The ship's close-range defense capability will be boosted by four AK-630 rapid-fire guns and a medium-range gun, according to a navy spokesman quoted by The Times of India.
Twin-tube torpedo launchers and anti-submarine rocket launchers, the Humsa-NG hull-mounted sonar will also equip the destroyer, adding punch to the ship's anti-submarine capability.
Its maximum speed is said to be above 30 knots.
The launch comes as India prepares to set off a new satellite that would also monitor the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. The new launching of Oceansat-2 satellite is aimed at identifying potential fishing zones and coastal studies but it can also track naval movements and defense maneuvers in the region.
"The Indian navy is poised for growth and the time to conceptualize an indigenous warship building system has come," Verma was quoted as saying at the launch by The Press Trust of India.
He said that the Indian navy was required to relook and evaluate inefficiencies of the force.
"Fluctuating funding in the past has compelled the Navy to resort to (warship) building in abroad, but now there is an urgent need to emulate worldwide trends in warship building (in the country)."
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