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Relief for Indian Navy as key Ukrainian factory survives Russian bombing

Source : The Economic Times

Relief for Indian Navy as key Ukrainian factory survives Russian bombing
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A key factory in Ukraine’s Mykolaiv that manufactures gas turbine engines for most Indian warships has survived Russian bombing, with its critical infrastructure intact, enquiries by the defence ministry have found out.

The Zorya-Mashproekt factory has been found to be functional and capable of resuming work in the future when the ground situation improves, according to people aware of the matter. It comes as a big relief for the Indian Navy, which relies on the gas turbines for its frontline warships, including four recently ordered frigates from Russia.

The factory was hit on March 13, with visuals showing smoke emanating from its premises as well as structural damage. Former Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash (retd) had raised concern on the attack, pointing out that a majority of Indian warships use Ukrainian engines and that damage to the factory could have an adverse impact on the Navy.

Besides manufacturing key components for regular overhaul and maintenance, the factory is currently producing gas turbine engines for two Russian origin frigates that are to be made at the Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) under a contract signed in 2016.

In September 2016, the defence ministry had signed contracts with Zorya-Mashproekt for the supply of two sets of gas turbine engines that are to be fitted on the Project 11356 class frigates. The $71.6 million contract for the turbine engines had been fulfilled with the equipment being delivered to the Russian Yantar shipyard, where two of the frigates are being manufactured.

Another contract for additional two sets was signed for the balance two frigates that are being made at the Goa Shipyard Ltd. Work on these frigates has already started while the Russian made ships are expected to be delivered within two years.

Contingency plans are also being considered given the crisis in Ukraine, according to the people cited earlier, to reduce dependency on a single source for such critical equipment. One option is to set up gas turbine manufacturing plants in India under a partnership programme but the financial viability has to be studied.

It is also learnt that European gas turbine manufacturers are offering their products as an alternative to Ukrainian systems. This fitment of a different engine would be a complex process as it would require some design changes.

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