The Indian Navy is scouting for a mechanised craft to enable troop landings on beaches to augment its amphibious warfare capability. The navy intends to order 10 such craft.
The navy has issued a request for information to global ship-builders to know if they can deliver the craft to India within the specified time frame and also meet its requirements, a senior naval official told IANS, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
The craft can also be used to ferry military equipment and material between island territories of Andaman and Nicobar on the eastern sea board and Lakshadweep on the western side.
The navy has been using 10 such craft in Andaman and Nicobar islands for years now for inter-island movement, but have de-commissioned six of them. The fresh order will be to augment this capability, he said.
The 55-tonne capacity craft can be carried on board the navy's five large Landing Ship Tank (LST) vessels of the Magar and Shardul class.
The craft will be used to launch either 150 troops and their warfare equipment, a T-90/T-72 battle tank, two infantry combat vehicles, two 2.5-tonne trucks or four light motor vehicles to enemy shores.
It will also be able to operate out of Landing Pontoon Dock INS Jalashwa, which in its earlier avatar was USS Trenton of the US Navy , bought by India in 2007.
Jalashwa, at 17,000-tonne, is the second largest warship of the Indian Navy after its lone 29,000-tonne aircraft carrier INS Viraat .
"The craft will be used for ship-to-shore movement of assault material, equipment and personnel in support of amphibious operations, apart from search and rescue, casualty evacuation, humanitarian relief, and supply and replenishment of warships," the officer said, when asked about the role of these craft.
The 23-metre long craft will have a cargo well and touch maximum speeds of 15 knots in fully-laden condition with an endurance level of six months out of dock or 200 nautical miles at full loading condition. It will be propelled by two diesel engines driving a water jet each.
With capability to operate during both day and night, the navy plans to use the craft for 20 years from induction. The craft will be armed with two mounted heavy machine gun with hands-free communication system with all-round arc of fire or shrapnel along with a protective steel plate to save the gun crew from enemy fire.