INS Godavari is the first indigenous warship. It was commissioned in 1983.
Indigenous construction started with the Leander class frigates in India at the Mazgaon dock starting in 1965.
The first ship INS Nilgiri (2500 tonnes) got commissioned in 1972.
The INS Godavari (3500 tonnes) was an expanded Leander designed entirely by the Indian Design Bureau, the Navy’s own Directorate General of Naval Designs. It has the capacity to take two multi-engine helicopters. It had the weapon systems from the Soviet Union of that day. It carried 4 surface-to-surface missiles and also surface-to-air missile of the Soviet vintage. It has served 32 long years in the Indian Ocean enduring salinity, temperature, and corrosion.
Current frigates – Shivalik class frigates
Future frigates – Project 17A class frigates
India has its own research and development in Navy. The defence PSUs like Bharat Electronics Limited have played a major role in indigenising the development of certain kind of sensors. Unfortunately, we haven’t got own technology to develop surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles. But all the sensors and communication equipment are getting indigenous today.
INS Arihant, indigenously built nuclear submarine, is under the class of SSBN, which means it has a ballistic missile carrying capacity. It has unlimited endurance to remain under water without the need to come up for charging. This underwater capacity gives the strength to create deterrence. This deterrence is necessary for India, despite preaching for peace and cooperation, because it is surrounded by nuclear powers (Pakistan and China). At present it is under testing.
India has also taken on lease an Akula class nuclear submarine from Russia in 2012. This is not an SSBN, but an SSN class submarine, which means nuclear attack submarine. While it can carry torpedoes, cruise missiles and can remain stealthy under water, it cannot carry ballistic missiles. It is meant to ensure deterrent at a different level. Plans are also being made to take second Akula class submarines from Russia.
These nuclear submarines are not meant to patrol straits and choke points like Malacca Straits. They will not go through Strait of Malacca/Strait of Hormuz; they will be patrolling in our areas of interest and provide self defence even in areas beyond regions of our primary interest. Deterrence is required for self defence. It is the ballistic missile submarines that create pure deterrence. It is the attack submarines with nuclear propulsion which are required for carrying out patrols if there is any crisis/conflict.
The BrahMos missiles have been installed on few warships. It can hit a target 300 km away. It is the missile of the future. Also, recently India has tested Long Range Surface to Air Missiles (LRSAM) in joint venture with Israelis. We are planning to have these LRSAMs on at least 20 ships.
Till now we have the missile systems, so far as the surface-to-surface missiles are concerned, which could transit during their cruise phase at about 1 Mark, which meant the speed of the sound (320 m/s). The BrahMos can go three times this speed in its cruise phase. This means that neutralising such a fast surface-to-surface missile becomes difficult.
Till now we have only short range and near to medium surface-to-air missiles. The LRSAMs will go at least 3-4 times the existing range of SRSAMs. LRSAMs are being developed in collaboration with Israel.
All the warships of Indian Navy need onboard helicopters. They could be in various forms like – anti-submarine warfare, multirole helicopters etc. At present there is a shortage of helicopters for the Indian Navy. At least 50 multi-role helicopters are needed now.
The Indian Navy got its first multi-role and multi-engine helicopter Sea King Mk 42 in the early 70s. Subsequently they were upgraded to 42A and we bought large number of 42B helicopters. Unfortunately the support systems of 42B and their life have long been expired.
India and US started Malabar exercises in 1992. This is the best example of any bilateral exercises happened in the world. Japan was included in 2007.