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Last Updated: Friday, 18 April, 2003, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
India trials stealth frigate
By Monica Chadha
BBC correspondent in Bombay

Indian Naval Ship Mysore - stealth destroyer
The navy already has stealth destroyers

The Indian navy's first indigenous stealth frigate has begun trials.

The INS Shivalik is the first of 12 such warships the Indian navy plans to build.

Trials are being held in Bombay, also called Mumbai, where the vessel has been designed by the Naval Design bureau.

The ship is fitted with state-of-the-art technology and bristles with a sophisticated system of radars and weaponry.

The 143-metre-long frigate, which is over nine metres tall, is powered by two gas turbines and diesel engines to help it reach speeds of up to 32 knots.

Its armaments include surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, torpedo tubes, rocket launchers and indigenously designed sonar systems meant for detecting and attacking submarines.

'Power and punch'

Attending the launch, Defence Minister George Fernandes said the war on Iraq had shown the importance of a country's navy.

If India starts exporting warships, it would be a remarkable achievement
Defence Minister George Fernandes

He said the coalition forces' warships had played a major role in victory.

He also said the fact that India had built the ship itself was a major step forward, and the country should now aim to build ships for other countries too.

Navy Chief Admiral Madhvendhra Singh said developing countries like India could not afford to buy warships and it was important the country produced its own vessels.

He said the stealth frigate with its array of weaponry and sensory systems would add "power and punch" to the Indian navy.

INS Shivalik was built at a cost of $140m and will be commissioned in December 2005.

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