The Indian government has approved spending 6.5$ billion to build four stealth destroyers for the Indian Navy under Project-15B.
The Indian Defence Ministry cleared the project in late 2009, but thegovernment only approved funding last month, a senior Defence Ministryofficial said.
The four destroyers will be built at the Indian Navy's Mumbai-basedMazagon Docks after construction is completed for three earlier stealthwarships under Project 15-A. These are expected to be completed by2012-2014.
The new destroyers will have greater stealth and advanced sensor andweapon packages, and will be fitted with a 1,000-kilometer-rangenuclear capable cruise missile currently being developed by the DefenceResearch and Development Organisation with Israeli help, Navy sourcessaid.
The new stealth destroyers also will be fitted with an extended-rangesurface-to-air missile system, which is being developed jointly betweenIndia and Israel.
There was no competitive bidding for the four 6,800-ton destroyerssince Mazagon Dock is the only Indian shipyard large enough to builddestroyers.
The Navy, which has been retiring old ships faster than building newones, has given orders to various shipyards for the building of 39warships. The Navy's current strength is about 140 vessels. Most ofthese warships are of Russian make and one Navy officials said theservice is concerned that these ships are aging faster than new onescan be inducted.
Naval responsibilities have increased with India emerging as a major power throughout the Indian Ocean region.
In July, the Defence Ministry approved procurement of six conventionalsubmarines worth more than $10 billion. Under the program, three of thesubs will be built at Mazagon Docks, one will be built at state-ownedHindustan Shipyard in Visakhapatnam with the help of a foreigncollaborator, and two will be purchased directly from an overseasvendor.