Indian Amphibious Capability

May 25, 2009 · Posted in Amphibious Warfare, India, Marines, Order of Battle 


While doing some other research I got curious as to how well India could carry out amphibious landings. So did some research…

2009 INS Amphibious Ships and Lift:

Class and # Range and Speed Land Craft Helicopters Lift
Shardul LST (3) 3000 m/14 knts 4 LCVP 1 Sea King 11 MBT or 500 Troops
Magar LST (2) 3000 m/14 knts 4 LCVP 1 Sea King 15 MBT
Polnocny C/D LSM (5) 975 m/13 knts Light vehicles or 140 Troops
Vasco De Gama LCM (6) 1000 m/8 knts 2 Light tanks and 287 Troops
Jalashwa LPD (1) 7700 m/20 knts 4 LCM 6 Sea King Numerous Vehicles, 900 + Troops.
8000 TDX Hovercraft(Coast Guard) (6) 362 m/42 knts 80 Troops


Name and Number Combat Radius Speed Lift
Sea King Mk 42 C (6) ~400 miles 144 mph 27 Troops


Landing Craft Name and Number Range and Speed Lift
LCM8 (4) from Jalashwa 190 miles/9 knts 2 vehicles or 150 Troops or 60 tns cargo
Sea Truck Type LCVP 220 miles/11knts 1 small vehicle or 30 Troops
BMP-2 Sarath IFV Sea 5knts 7 Troops
* Most data from Combat Fleets 2007 with Wikipedia filling a few holes with landing craft information.

Experts could go into more detail but from an amateur’s viewpoint this is an amphibious Navy still designed to beach. The only amphibious standoff capability is INS Jalashwa with LCM 8 landing craft and Sea King helicopters and this would at most would only be able to stage one battalion’s worth of troops. Ultimately as a navy you need to acquire stand off capable platforms that can stay out of SSM range with fast long ranged connectors that give the flexibility to land when and how needed. The INS just isn’t capable yet above a battalion or so.

There is evidence though that India is serious about acquiring better amphibious capabilities.

First, its published was published in their Maritime Strategy (2007).

Expeditionary Operations

The new strategy recognizes that influencing events on land is one of the primary roles of the Indian Navy. This in itself translates into the ability to conduct operations in the littoral, albeit in a phased manner. Important contributions made by enhanced MDA, manoeuvre from the sea, sea control, sea denial, littoral warfare, and amphibious operations in conduct of expeditionary operations have been recognized. Direct delivery of ordnance from stand-off ranges, both through land attack missiles and by carrier-based aircraft would be accorded priority. Critical capabilities in strategic sealift, heavy-lift helicopters and air cushion vehicles are being augmented. In addition, a fully trained land-fighting force would require close integration of Amphibious, Marine, and Special Forces of the three services. Creation of a Joint Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) along with a Joint HQ would considerably enhance our capability to conduct expeditionary operations

Next the Indian Navy has made significant financial investments in amphibious warfare with the purchase of a Cold War era US Austin class LPD and the completion of 5 LST’s of the indigenous Magar/Shardul classes.  INS Jalashwa (picture above left) was purchased from the United States and commissioned in 2007. This Austin class LPD gives the INS more range, lift capacity and flexibility then its ever had as well as a first step toward a amphibious standoff capability. Likewise the Magar/Shardul (INS Kesari pictured above right) classes of LST’s have increased lift and range than the ancient Polnocny class LSM’s and Vasco De Gama class LCM’s in the Indian inventory. 

Future procurements are certain but unclear. The INS was reported to be interested in acquiring USS Nashville however it appears that the Indian Navy may have declined. Global Security does report that India is looking for many more LST’s, LCU’s and a new class of LPH by 2020. However, there are no sources listed and not very much out in the various BBS’s are backed up by another source. So for now it appears they’re certainly interested however actual designs don’t appear to have been established yet.

Finally and maybe most important, India has has taken some big organizational steps toward an amphibious capability. 

The first is committing land formations to the amphibious warfare mission. The 91st Infantry Brigade of the Sudarshan Chakra Corps was formed in 2009. This dedicated force should reach 5,000 troops in strength and be composed of at least 3 true combat infantry battalions with modern command, engineering, signals and artillery support. India will still continue the tradition of pairing other capabilities with ships (5th Armored Regiment affiliated with INS Shardul) and the utilizing thethe MARCOS Marine Commando force in a the special operations role.

The second is a commitment to education and development of theory and practice. This includes the opening of an amphibious warfare school  and planned amphibious exercises. The school is located outside of Kakinda and in close proximity to where the 91st and fleet support facilities will be located. India also carried out a series of planned amphibious exercises this year called Tropex 2009. You can find some photos here and the intent of what kind of capabilities they are trying to develop are clear.

Th story is that while India is currently well behind they’re moving forward and if you’re doing any gaming/modeling of these forces its probably best to assume that they have no standoff capability above battalion level and would most likely have to beach at least until the 2020 time period (or so).

Anyways curiosity cured. Hope this helps you! If anybody has any more information on this please do post!


4 Responses to “Indian Amphibious Capability”

  1. SlamEagleF15K on May 25th, 2009 12:36 pm

    Make the LST count to six.The IN just commissioned a modified Magar LST just a week ago.Wonder why they pursue LSTs.

  2. Bundy on May 25th, 2009 1:22 pm

    INS Airavat is the 3rd Shardul class LST which is a modified Magar (bigger etc)

    Don’t know why they were chosen exactly other than the designs are pretty flexible. You can shove anything into them from tanks, troops, cargo etc with very little hassle. Although your landing zone has to be a nice beach or dock for the most part! Imagine their history with the Polocyny’s had something to do with it as well.

    The big question I had about these is although they have good range, are troops really going to be able to be quartered in them for a long transit. Things like toilets, kitchens and air conditioning matter after a few days travel.

  3. SlamEagleF15K on May 26th, 2009 9:57 am

    You`re right about that.I have a ROKMC friend who participated in several joint exercises and said LSTs were a MCs worst nightmare not only because they have to run the crap out of themselves during the “suicidal beachhead approach” but also because of the crampy accomodations barely for a few days..and I believe the IN has a much larger OA with a broadened coastline. Physiological problems couldn`t be ignored.:(

  4. SlamEagleF15K on May 26th, 2009 10:03 am

    In the personal view,conscription forces tend to place the combat role over the welfare issues,and since LSTs come in large numbers in a relatively low cost,they might thought of bridging the immediate gap with LSTs and wait for larger LPDs which would come in the following years.

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