Those who are accustomed to pooh-poohing Indian Navy for having fallen behind China, have something to cheer up. Indian Navy has planned an unspecified number of ultra-advanced stealth guided-missile destroyers. At what stage this project is currently at, nobody knows. But we fell on a tentative date i.e. May 2021.
Project 18 class destroyers will be equipped with advanced systems such as electromagnetic railguns, laser-based close-in weapon systems, advanced AESA and PESA radars, and active and passive array sonars.
Kakinda Shipyard in collaboration with Mazgaon docks and L&T will lay keel for the destroyers that will have a displacement of 9000 tonnes. Meanwhile, DRDO in collaboration with Bharat Electronics will be designing the next generation of radar systems. The already developed Air and Missile defence system (AMDS) is being further worked upon. The AESA and PESA are to have extended ranges and possible merger into one multi-band radar. The destroyer will also have an X-band optronic mast detector radar.
Other than one helicopter, Project-18 class destroyers will carry unmanned carrier-borne air vehicles (UCAVs) and UAVs. To launch these UAVs there will be a compact version of the Electromagnetic aircraft launch system(EMALS).
Project-18 class destroyers will have following armaments
Ballistic missiles and hypersonic Bramhos-II:
The next generation of point missile defense capable of launching Brahmos II will be worked upon.
The Electromagnetic Railgun:
It will relay an energy of 64 MegaJoules. DRDO and BEL already have their necks buried into the programme with later working on the gunfire control systems. Munitions for the gun are being researched. It is pertinent to add that Electromagnetic gun fires a non-ballistic projectile at speeds exceeding Mach 7 that can blowhole into any reinforced hull.
It is being developed by DRDO’s Laser Science and Technology Centre, Delhi will employ 300 kW of laser system enough to take out any aerial threat. It will have its own radar. In addition, the warship will have a smaller 100kW laser too.
How will this mega ship be powered?
It will use Integrated Electric Propulsion (IEP). L& T and DRDO will further work on DRDO’s already launched programe GATET for marine propulsion. The planned gas turbine will deliver power up to 36 MW, and destroyer will have 2 of these to deliver a power of 72 MW, in conjugation with 2 diesel generators of 10 MW each and 2 electric propulsion motors of 20 MW. Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. (TASL) which has designed platform, bridge, and Combat Management Systems in the past will work on Diesel generators and motors.
Project-18 aims to launch the lead ship in 2028. DRDO has spared 1.5 billion dollars for the programme from its annual budget.