navy: Relief for Indian Navy as key Ukrainian factory survives Russian bombing

A major factory in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, which makes gas turbine engines for most Indian warships, has survived Russian bombing, along with its critical infrastructure, Defense Ministry inquiries have revealed.

According to people familiar with the matter, the Zorya-Mushproact factory has been found to be functional and able to resume work in future when the ground situation improves. This comes as a major relief to the Indian Navy, which relies on gas turbines for its frontline warships, including four recently ordered from Russia.

The factory was hit on 13 March with visible smoke emanating from its premises as well as visible structural damage. Former Navy Chief Admiral Arun Prakash (retd) had raised concerns over the attack, pointing out that most Indian warships use Ukrainian engines and that damage to the factory could adversely affect the Navy.

Apart from manufacturing key components for routine overhaul and maintenance, the factory is currently producing gas turbine engines for two Russian-origin frigates to be built at Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) under a contract signed in 2016.

In September 2016, the Ministry of Defense signed a contract with Zora-Mushproekt for the supply of two sets of gas turbine engines to be fitted on Project 11356 class frigates. A $71.6 million contract for the turbine engine was completed with the equipment being delivered to the Russian Yantar Shipyard, where the two frigates are being built.

Another contract was signed for an additional two sets for the remaining two frigates being built at Goa Shipyard Limited. Work on these frigates has already started, while the Russian-built ships are expected to be delivered within two years.

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

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

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