On January 12, 2017, India successfully launched Khanderi, its second Kalvari-class Scorpene submarine despite the flutter caused by the leak of secret data on the capabilities of these highly-advanced submarines being built for the Indian Navy in collaboration with French defence company DCNS. According to Indian Navy traditions, Khanderi has been named after her distinguished predecessor, a former ‘Foxtrot’ class submarine which was decommissioned in 1989 after two decades of service to the country. The submarine got its name Khanderi after the historical island fort of Maratha forces which played a fundamental role in ensuring their dominance at sea in the late 17th century.

Scorpene is a class of diesel-electric attack submarines which have been jointly developed by the French Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN) and the Spanish company Navantia, and now by DCNS. It features diesel propulsion and additional air-independent propulsion. As a state-of-the-art conventional submarine, with advanced stealth features, Scorpene can undertake multifarious types of missions typically undertaken by any modern submarine, such as anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine laying, area surveillance and the like.

ndia, at present, operates 13 Russian- and German-designed diesel-electric submarines with the first of six new French-designed Scorpene-class submarines yet to come into service. The Indian Navy expects to induct two Scorpene diesel-electric submarines into service this year and launch a third submarine into water. The first of the Scorpenes, Kalvari, is expected to finish sea trials by May and is on track to be inducted before the monsoon. The aim is to commission the second submarine(Khanderi) this year. The third Scorpene submarine ‘Vela’ will be launched into water this year after the monsoons. Vela has already been ‘booted up’, which means all the sections have been assembled.

India has, planned to lease a second nuclear attack submarine from Russia and build six nuclear attack submarines in Visakhapatnam. Although they have planned to acquire submarines from different sources, the work is still at the pen-to-paper phase. India is speeding up to counter China by building conventional and nuclear submarines with German, French and Russian assistance.

The building of Khanderi is considered to be the beginning of a new chapter in India’s submarine capabilities, even though, India is suffering from current and prospective defence budget constraints, many prominent strategic analysts argue. Lack of funds has a direct impact on the war-fighting orientations on the one hand and the ability to provide net security in the region on the other. This project has rekindled hopes about the defence security of India and its ability to assert power undersea.

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