Brahmaputra (Type 16A) Class

Image © Mrityunjoy MazumdarImage © Mrityunjoy MazumdarImage © Mrityunjoy MazumdarINS Brahmaputra at Piraeus Harbour, in Athens - Greece. Image © Constantinos StathopoulosINS Brahmaputra at Piraeus Harbour, in Athens - Greece. Image © Constantinos StathopoulosINS Betwa patrolling the high seas. Image © Indian NavyINS Betwa at her commissioning ceremony on 07 July 2004. Image © Indian NavyINS Brahmaputra fires a Kh-35 Uran anti-ship missile during her sea trials. Image © Indian Navy
Image © Mrityunjoy MazumdarImage © Mrityunjoy Mazumdar

Vessel Type: Guided Missile Frigate.

Names & Pennant Numbers with commission dates:
INS Brahmaputra F31 (14 April 2000)
INS Betwa F39 (07 July 2004)
INS Beas F37 (11 July 2005)

Structure: The Brahmaputra Class are a modification of the Godavari Class with the same hull and propulsion characteristics. There are notable differences in the forecastle area around the AShM launchers. Unlike the Godavari Class, which mount four outer P-20M AShM canisters on sponsons, the Brahmaputra Class do not have the sponsons for mounting the 3M-24E AShM. Internally, these are very different from the Godavari Class frigates.

Displacement: 3850 tons full load.

Dimensions: Length - 126.4 metres.
.................Beam - 14.5 metres.
.................Draught - 4.5 metres.

Main Machinery: Two Bhopal turbines with 30,000 hp, two 550 psi boilers and two shafts.

Maximum Speed: In excess of 30 knots.

Maximum Range: 4500 miles at 12 knots.

Complement: 440-450 (incl. 40 officers + 13 aircrew).

Radar: Air/Surface; One Bharat RAWS-03 radar at S-band frequency using a DA08 antenna.
.........Air; One Bharat/Signaal RAWL-02 (PLN 517) radar at D-band frequency using a LW08 antenna.
.........Navigation; One Decca Bridgemaster, BEL Rashmi (PIN 524) radar at I-band frequency using a ZW06 antenna.
.........Fire Control; Refer to 'Weapons' sub-section.

Sonar: Bharat HUMSA (Hull Mounted Sonar Array), active panoramic search and attack; medium frequency. Also has Thales (Thomson Marconi Sonar) Sintra towed array sonar. No VDS (Variable Depth Sonar).

Weapons: The Brahmaputra Class is armed with sixteen 3M-24E (Kh-35 Uran or NATO: SS-N-25 Switchblade) AShMs, housed in four quadruple KT-184 launchers, angled at 30º, two on either side of the bridge superstructure. Equivalent to the Harpoon Block 1C AShM, these missiles have active radar homing (ARH) out to a range of 130 km at 0.9 Mach, with a 145 kg warhead. All 16 Urans can be ripple-fired in 2-3 second intervals. Fire control is provided by a BEL Aparna (modified Garpun-Bal FC, NATO: Plank Shave) radar. The Garpun-Bal FC radar combines active and passive channels and in the active target designation mode, it operates in X-band (I/J-band) and can handle up to 150 targets at ranges between 35 - 45 km, although it is possible to obtain ranges of more than 180 km in wave-guide propagation conditions. The passive channel operates in the ESM mode searching for pulse and CW signals, and accurately identifying the bearing of hostile emitters from a built-in classification library of up to 1,000 signatures. The maximum range of the passive channel is over 100 km depending on the frequency.

These vessels were to be fitted with the indigenous Trishul SAM after the International Fleet Review in February 2001. Fire control was to be provided by a RAN tracker. In a statement on 15 March 2001, then-incumbent Defence Minister George Fernandes stated that the missile had to undergo further developmental trials. The vessels have now been fitted with the Israeli Barak SAM system, with fire control provided by an EL/M-2221 STGR radar. The shoulder-held Igla-M (SA-N-10) SAM launcher was used as a stop-gap measure aboard INS Brahmaputra and it is not sure if this missile is still used. The Igla-M has a range of 5 km, with a 2 kg HE warhead and uses infra-red homing for guidance.

One OTO Melera Super Rapid 76mm main gun, for use against ship and shore targets, with 65 rds/min to 4.4n miles; 8 km. Four multi-barrelled 30mm AK-630 Gatling guns on either beam, to shoot down incoming anti-ship missiles, with 5500 to 6000 rds/min to 2.5 km. Fire control for these five gun mounts are provided by two BEL Shikari (based on the Contraves Seaguard) opto-electronic trackers that operate in the I- and Ka-bands. Either of the Shikari trackers can control all five gun mounts or any combination thereof. Good minimum ranges, for the 76mm gun, have been largely achieved by advanced software.

Six 324mm ILAS 3 (2 triple) tubes with Whitehead A244S anti-submarine torpedoes, with active/passive homing to 3.8n miles; 7 km at 33 knots with a 34 kg shaped charged warhead. Can also fire the AET anti-submarine torpedo, a locally produced version of the A244S.

Weapons Control: BEL Shikari, BEL Aparna, RAN and RAWS-03.

Helicopter Capacity: Depending on operation requirements, two Sea King Mk.42B anti-ship and anti-submarine helicopters can be embarked or a combination of the HAL Chetak and a Sea King Mk.42B is usually embarked. The latter is equipped with a surface search radar, dunking sonar and can carry two Sea Eagle AShMs or a combination of depth charges and AS-244 anti-submarine torpedoes. The Sea King Mk.42B helicopter can fly 400 km around the vessel and is equipped with a data link to download target data to the combat information centre, based on the indigenous Bharat Shikari (Hunter) combat data system, in the operations room. The combat data system, which is a derivative of the Italian IPN series of combat data systems, integrates Western, Russian and Indian systems, thus representing a remarkable technical achievement in system integration skills.

Countermeasures: A BEL Ajanta Mk.2C is used as the EW (Electronic Warfare) suite. A media report, dated 05 May 2007, stated that the ELLORA Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system is fitted aboard INS Beas and the other two vessels in the class will also feature this ESM system. The ELLORA is an indigenous development by the Defence Electronics Research Laboratory (DLRL). The vessels are also fitted with two chaff/flare launchers, featuring long and medium range deceiver chaff. Features two Graesby G738 Towed Torpedo Decoy systems or the indigenously developed BEL Towed Torpedo Decoy. The 'Super Barricade' chaff launcher is also installed.

Combat Data System: BEL's EMCCA (Electronic Modular Command & Control Applications) Action Information Organisation (AIO) system with 10 multi-function consoles using Barco MPRD 9651 display linked with a LAN (Large Area Network). The system is capable of C3I and threat analysis and all tactical data can be integrated onto one display if necessary. The EMCCA system is an intra-naval AIO package made by Bharat Electronics Ltd. The vessels also feature an Indian-developed data link and Inmarsat communications (JRC). These frigates can operate in all environments, including those contaminated by nuclear, chemical or biological fallouts.

Times of India reported on 07 September 2005, that INS Betwa became the first first Indian warship to successfully integrate indigenous combat data systems, with a wide variety of foreign/Indian weapons and sensors onboard. While INS Brahmaputra was the first warship to be equipped with the BEL combat data systems, it is INS Betwa that has validated the indigenous technology platform. Captain C S Murthy, CO of INS Betwa, stated that the integrated systems have been successfully tested to an extreme. The anti-submarine warfare officer of INS Betwa, Lieutenant Commander Sharad Parti, stated, "The EMMCA system gives commanders on the ship a consolidated tactical picture. It adds to the ship's maritime combat power." Commodore R P S Ravi, Director of the Maritime Warfare Centre in Mumbai, stated that it was a significant achievement for the Navy that indigenous data systems would be used for target evaluation, weapon selection and target engagement.

Comments: Designed by the Indian Navy's Directorate of Naval Design, the building progress of these vessels at Garden Reach SY, Kolkata was very slow due to labor related problems, delays in equipment availability and integration problems with the Trishul SAM. This caused severe delays to the commissioning date of INS Brahmaputra. The vessel was laid down in 1989 and finally commissioned on 14 April 2000 after 11 years. GRSE's Chief General Manager, Commander Ranjit Deb (Retd.), stated that due to the improvement in productivity at the shipyard, INS Beas was built in five years, much less than the time taken for building the previous two ships. All three vessels in the class are the second vessels in the Indian Navy to bear these names. The first three vessels were Leopard Class frigates built by Vickers Armstrong Ltd of the UK. The Commissioning CO of INS Brahmaputra was Captain Pradeep 'Billoo' Chauhan, VSM. He now holds the rank of Rear Admiral and serves as the Assistant-CNS, Operations. The motto of INS Brahmaputra is 'The Raging Rhino' while the motto of INS Betwa is 'The Tenacious Torrent'.