The Indian Navy has historically been influenced from both Western and Soviet doctrine and warship design. The Talwar-class frigate of its modern navy is more of the latter as the vessels were constructed in Russia from an existing Soviet-era design. INS Talwar, the lead ship of the group, was ordered on November 17th, 1997 and laid down by builder Baltiysky Zavod on March 10th, 1999. She was launched to sea on May 12th, 2000 and formally commissioned on June 18th, 2003.
The Talwar-class ("Talwar" meaning "sword") is a six-strong group and classified as "guided-missile frigates". Their design is based largely on the Soviet "Krivak III" class frigate which succeeded the outgoing Riga-class and held design origins in the 1950s.The evolution of this group has been a good one as the design has proven itself over the decades since. Today, the Talwar-class remains a modern surface-going warship with suitable capabilities for wartime use. INS Talwar (F40) is joined by her sisters in INS Trishul (F43), INS Tabar (F44); INS Teg (F45); INS Tarkash (F50) and INS Trikand (F51). All remain in active service as of 2015 with the last (Trikand) commissioned for service as recently as June 2013.
At the heart of INS Talwar is a missile-minded suite (a product of the natural evolution of the conventionally-armed frigate concerning naval history) intended to counter the threats posed from the air, the sea and under the sea. Additionally, she holds inherent offshore attack capabilities. Her primary armament is 24 x Shtil-1 series medium-range missiles backed by 8 x Igla-1E (SA-16) short-range air-to-air missiles. She carried the Klub Vertical Launching System (VLS) for engaging surface targets and inland targets through Anti-Ship (AS) and cruise missile attacks. Her more conventional armament is represented through 1 x 100mm A-190E deck gun and 2 x Kashtan Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWSs). For Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) duty, she carried 2 x 533mm torpedo tubes as well as the RBU-6000 (RPK-8) rocket launcher.
However, her success at sea depends on more than just her armament fit. Talwar is given a slew of sensors and processing systems to see the job through. This includes several radar systems for surface searching, tracking and engagement. An inertial navigation and stabilization suite are also part of her installations. Air-Surface Search functionality is further enhanced through a Fregat M2EM 3D circular scan radar fit. The BEL APSOH serves as the onboard sonar system which this is fitted inside of the hull.
Beyond her installed armament and technological components, the Talwar-class also features a stern flight deck for accepting and launching a Kamov Ka-28 "Helix-A" naval helicopter (or similar) rotary-wing aircraft. She is also capable of operating the HAL Dhruv series helicopters in similar fashion. These units can resupply the ship while at sea or serve in the submarine-hunting or anti-ship role as necessary.
As designed, Talwar displaces at 3,620 tons under standard load and 4,035 tons under full load. Her dimensions include a length of 409 feet, a beam of 50 feet and a draught of 15 feet. Power is served through 2 x DS-71 turbines delivering 9,000 horsepower for cruising and 2 x DT-59 boost turbines for dash actions (delivering 19,500 horsepower). Maximum speed in ideal conditions is 30 knots with operational ranges out to 4,850 miles. Her crew complement is just 180 personnel.
The profile of the Talwar features a rather long forecastle which sets the bridge superstructure at around midships. This allows four of her major weapon systems to be fitted ahead of the bridge including the turreted deck gun, a Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) system, a Surface-to-Surface Missile (SSM) launcher, and the RBU-6000 rocket-launching fit. At midships, the superstructure sports slab-sides with little to no crew railing. A wholly-enclosed mast is sat over the bridge with a pyramidal main mast seated just aft. An angled lattice-style mast is then fitted at the aft edge of the bridge roof. As is the case with modern warships today, the smoke funnel of Talwar is of a low-profile design and an attached platform at this structure supports a Front Dome Fire Control Radar installation. The aft portion of he superstructure sports a full service hanger for supporting helicopter and UAV operations. Two more of the SAM systems are featured at this area (port and starboard sides). The flight deck then takes over the rear of the profile.
INS Talwar completed her evaluation and sea trials during June of 2002 to which several issued were forced to be dealt with. Commissioning took place in Russian waters where the ship was construction in June of 2003. Since relocating to Indian waters, the vessel has operated mainly in the Indian Ocean. A May 2006 incident saw the crew release the anchor against the submarines sonar dome system which forced repairs. Several joint exercises with NATO members have also been a part of the Talwar's history. In 2009, the vessel lent her capabilities to combating Somali pirates harrassing shipments in an around the war-torn country. Her last notable entry is of a collision with a trawler off the coast of Ratnagiri in December of 2013. The Trawler was sunk in the accident.
Because of her relative newness, it is expected that INS Talwar will remain an active part of the Indian Navy for some time to come. The nation is currently building several new warships including an indigenous aircraft carrier, which will help to further strengthen its capabilities in the Indian Ocean region. As the country is always attempting to remain a step ahead of neighboring Pakistan, much attention and finances are paid to the military arm of India - including its ocean-going power which remains one of the strongest in this part of the world.