The first of two DRDO-owned and Indian Navy-operated Missile-Range Instrumentation Ships (MRIS) is presently undergoing outfitting alongside the 560-metre jetty of the MoD-owned Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL) in Visakhapatnam. Officially dubbed as an Ocean Surveillance Ship (P-11184), its keel-laying ceremony had taken place on June 30, 2014. Sanctioned at a cost of Rs.1,500 crore, this MRIS is expected to be commissioned into naval service by the first quarter of 2018 (instead of the original deadline of December 2015).
This vessel was designed by Vik Sandvik Design India, and it has a length of 175 metres, beamwidth of of 22 metres, a draught of 6 metres, and a total weight of 10,000 tons. An aft helicopter deck capable of housing a 12-tonne NMRH-type helicopter has also been incorporated. Crew complement will be 300, while the propulsion package will comprise twin two 9,000kW diesel engines, designed to give a maximum cruise speed of 21 Knots.
The MRIS, when operational, will host two types of tracking radars: a long-range L-band active phased-array tracking radar for monitoring the flight trajectory of ballistic missiles like ICBMs and SLBMs, and an X-band precision tracking radar, this too being an active phased-array type that will be used for tracking the in-bound flight trajectories of MIRV-type warheads. The long-range L-band active phased-array tracking radar will be a derivative of the indigenously designed and developed L-band, monopulse Multi-Object Tracking Radar (MOTR) that is now operational at ISRO’s Sriharikota-based Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR).
The MOTR, developed at a cost of Rs.245 crores between 2012 and 2015, can track 10 different objects simultaneously with a range of nearly 1,000km. While objects measuring up to 30cm by 30cm can be tracked at a distance of 800km, in case of objects measuring 50cm by 50cm size, the radar can track at a slant range of 1,000km. The active phased-array antenna contains 4,608 radiating elements, and the entire radar weighs 35 tonnes, is 12-metre-long and 8 metres-tall. Astra Microwave Products Ltd supplied the T/R Modules and DC-DC converters.
The second MRIS is being built at a cost of Rs.425 crores by the Kochi-based Cochin Shipyard Ltd and is expected to be delivered by late 2019. Contract for this vessel was inked in early August 2015. Once ready, this 130-metre-long MRIS will be equipped with a smaller version of the MOTR, known as the M-MOTR, as well as X-band active phased-array precision-tracking radar. This MRIS will be used for monitoring the flight trajectories of long-range subsonic and supersonic land-attack cruise missiles, especially during their terminal phases of flight.
The two MRIS vessels will perform roles similar to those of the USNS Howard O Lorenzen (T-AGM-25), which features dual-band X- and S-band active phased-array radars, a common radar suite controller, and other ancillary equipment. The X-band radar is used for collecting data from several objects from different targets, while the S-band radar is used for collecting data from specific objects of importance. Raytheon provided the X-band radar and the common radar suite controller, while the S-band radar was provided by Northrop Grumman.
Meanwhile, the Indian Navy is gearing up for the launch of its second homegrown SSBN, the S-3, at the Vizag-based and Navy-owned Shipbuilding Centre (SBC), which has been leased to Larsen & Toubro for fabricating these SSBNs there. The Navy has already procured an Anti-Diver Net that will be deployed around the S-3 after its launch (before the year-end) so that it can be safely berthed alongside the SBC when undergoing final fitting-out and the subsequent harbour-trials.