Shoddy Workmanship

Over the past decade, the nation of India has been expending a great deal of effort and money in an attempt to become a major regional military force.

india military parade

This means that they have to come up with the ability to convince the other significant powers in the region to take them seriously.  What other powers could I be talking about?  The big 800 pound gorilla in that part of the world is China.

china military parade with rpg

Unfortunately, India lacks the industrial and technological capability to produce world class weapons in the numbers needed.  So they have to buy from someone else.  Also unfortunately, they decided to cut costs and buy from Russia.

russia military parade in red square with mobile anti air units

This really shouldn’t be much of a problem.  After all, the vast majority of military hardware used by the Chinese was stolen from the Russians during the Cold War.  The stuff used by India would be similar, but more advanced and better maintained since it was purchased new.

At least, that was the plan.

News just came in of an explosion that partially sunk a submarine in India.  (Alternate news story found here.)  The submarine in question is a Kilo class attack sub, a design that was considered to be perfectly adequate back in the bad old Soviet days.  It seems that time has not been kind.

What must be particularly galling is that the India government just paid the Russians the equivalent of $80 million USD to repair and upgrade that very same boat.  If the explosions today are the result of bad maintenance and shoddy repairs instead of a terrorist act, then that was money that would have been better spent elsewhere.

9 thoughts on “Shoddy Workmanship

  1. Link to NYT article not working….may be behind paywall?

    “News just came in of an explosion that partially sunk a submarine in India.”

  2. Sounds like a Scorpion incident. I would look to the torpedo manufacturers.

    The fact that this occurred in shallow water and nobody has come up indicates that either there were no survivors or the Kilo’s don’t have escape trunks.

  3. However, they just launched an Indian-made aircraft carrier. It won’t enter military service until 2018, but it’s still quite an achievement. (There wasn’t any indication in the news report about what kind of aircraft they were planning on flying off it.)

  4. The Indians did not build their SSN – it is a Russian Akula class which Indian has on long term lease with option to buy. Building a nuclear submarine is a major undertaking, which Indian industry has not demonstrated capability for yet.

    It is a major feat and milestone for the India that they have launched the hull of their new carrier – but the hardest and more important part of fitting out is only just beginning. The hull is the easiet part of a warship to build – fitting out is where things get hairy (And by the Indians’ own admissions, where their biggest troubles are right now.). When the Indians actually finish fitting out the carrier, then that will be an important step. Based on previous experiences with the Dehli class DDs, that would be where the problems start coming out of the woodwork.

    BTW, the PRC has been notorious for rough handling and poor servicing of their equipment. At least one of the Kilo-class SSK had to be towed back to Russia for complete overhaul and rebuilding because the Chinese managed to burn-out its entire drive…

  5. According to the ‘Times of India’

    Preliminary investigations point to an accident with the submarines torpedoes.

    cxt217 – according to wikipedia, not necessarily the be-all-end-all, India is constructing nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines, in India. The first to be commissoned this year.

    steve – also according to wikipedia, the Indian aircraft carriers will be operating the Mig-29K, the naval version of the Fulcrum.

    As in all things, we shall see what developes.

    • The Arihant is schedule to commision next year. The reactor went critical but the sea trials have not started. Until the sea trials actually are completed (And no showstoppers appear.), the SSBN is not ready for prime time. That is not including official acceptance…

      (How much of the SSBN is indigenous design is also the stuff of curiousity. Wikipedia says it is similar to the Akula – which would indicate there was a lot of study of the Akula blueprints.)

      I should mention a big issue with Soviet/Russian equipment was that they were designed to be used as part of a large force with ready replacements available. Hence, the need for maintanence and repair was often considered secondary. Unfortunately, when any military other than the Soviets deployed them, they often lack the numbers needed, not helped by the fact that maintenance standards often ranged from ‘maintenance by DHL’ (For richer militaries, like the Gulf states.) to completely lacking.

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