India has decided to build four Landing Platform Docks (LPDs) or amphibious assault ships in order to boost its naval strength.
The Indian Defence Ministry recently cleared the mega naval project worth over INR 200 billion for this purpose. A senior ministry official said that the four warfare ships would help the Indian Navy transport troops, defence equipment, helicopters and amphibious vehicles into a war zone.
The ministry said in a statement that the four 30,000-40,000-tonne vessels would be India’s biggest home-made battle ships. According to the statement, the ships, with huge lower decks that can be used as a bridge to accommodate landing of tanks, defence cargo and troops from sea to land, would not require docking. They would be able to stay in sea uninterrupted for months depending upon their capacity, added the ministry.
India imported its lone LPD from America in 2007 and renamed the 16,900-tonne ‘Ex-USS Trenton’ as ‘INS Jalashwa’. The vessel alone can transport around 5,000 soldiers and defence equipment.
Soon after the Defence Acquisition Council of the Indian ministry cleared the long-pending project, three private players – Reliance Defence and Engineering Limited (RDEL), Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and ABG Shipyard – joined the race for the mega project. However, the Narendra Modi government in New Delhi rejected ABG’s bid because of the company’s poor financial health and asked RDEL and L&T to submit commercial bids for the four LPDs.
Meanwhile, India launched an indigenous rocket, as heavy as 200 full-grown Asian elephants, on Monday (June 5). Indian scientists claimed that the rocket could one day take “Indians into space from Indian soil”.
Launched from the rocket port at Sriharikota in southern province of Andhra Pradesh, ‘Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III’ (GSLV Mk-III) is the heaviest rocket ever made by India that is capable of carrying the heaviest satellites till now. With its launch, India becomes only the fourth country after Russia, America and China to have a human space flight programme.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a statement that 640 tonnes or almost five times the weight of a fully loaded Jumbo Jet aeroplane was the weight of the rocket to reach the launch pad. The height of GSLV Mk-III is 43m, making it the shortest of the three big Indian rockets. However, it carries a huge punch, as it weighs almost 1.5 times of the country’s next biggest rocket. Indian scientists took 15 years to master the technology of this engine, which uses liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as propellants and is being tested on a functional rocket. According to ISRO Chairperson AS Kiran Kumar, eight tonnes is what the heavy-lift rocket is capable of placing in a low Earth orbit, enough to carry India’s crew module. The estimated cost of the new rocket is INR 3 billion.
“We are pushing ourselves to the limits to ensure that this new fully self-reliant Indian rocket succeeds in its maiden launch. In principle, it will be the GSLV Mk-III or its variant that will be human rated in future,” stressed Kiran Kumar.