India’s “Tushil” Frigate Overcomes Ukraine Dispute to Start Sea Trials

After the Ukraine crisis halted manufacturing, India revived the stalled Russian frigate programme. Two ships that were originally built for Russia are now being completed for the Indian Navy in Kaliningrad. The first frigate has begun sea trials; both are scheduled for delivery to India in 2024. India is also building two more ships for the 2026 handover.

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Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna is a Defence & Aerospace analyst and is the Director of ADD Engineering Components (India) Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany with manufacturing units in Russia. He is Consulting Editor Industry and Defense at Frontier India.

According to a video clip on the Telegram channel “BaltiyskLife – Baltic” on March 5, 2024, the first of two frigates in Project 11356, named Tushil, built at the JSC “Yantar Baltic Shipbuilding Plant” for the Indian Navy, moved from Kaliningrad to Baltiysk to begin factory sea trials. This ship was originally laid down for the Russian Navy in 2013 under the name “Admiral Butakov”, but it has now been built for India and is expected to become the seventh frigate of Project 11356 in the Indian fleet.

In 2016, the Russian Navy suspended the construction of the second batch of the Project 11356 frigates due to a lack of main gas turbine power plants manufactured by the Nikolaev Gas Turbine Plant “Zorya” – “Mashproekt,” which were not supplied for these ships due to events in Ukraine.

A February 2016 press note by the Nikolaev Gas Turbine company “Zorya” – “Mashproekt,” the company secured a deal with Yantar Shipyard in October 2012 to supply three sets of M7N gas turbine units for these frigates. According to the terms of the agreement, the Nikolaev facility would supply the first set of units to Yantar in December 2014, followed by the second and third sets in October-December 2015.

In June 2014, Ukraine’s State Export Control Service stopped the export of military goods to Russia. As a result, construction on the Yantar order at Zorya-Mashproekt was halted, and the Admiral Butakov frigate’s completed set of units was sent to Nikolaev for storage.

Ship Tushil Front
Screenshots of Tushil Frigate under testing
Screenshots of Tushil Frigate under testing

India later purchased two of the three frigates from Project 11356, suspended at Yantar. On October 15, 2016, the governments of India and Russia signed an intergovernmental agreement to construct two frigates and two additional subsequent ships of Project 11356 in India at the state shipbuilding enterprise Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) in Goa.

As part of the implementation of this agreement, Rosoboronexport signed a $1.2 billion contract in October 2018 to complete two frigates of Project 11356 for the Indian Navy in Russia at Yantar Shipyard in Kaliningrad: Admiral Butakov and Admiral Istomin. These two frigates, Tushil (meaning “shield” in Sanskrit) and Tamala (thunderbolt), were to be delivered to the Indian Navy in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Work on completing the Admiral Butakov and Admiral Istomin frigates for India resumed in 2019, with the hulls of both ships lifted back onto the slipway.

On October 28, 2021, a ceremony was held at Yantar to relaunch the Tushil frigate, which is completing factory sea trials. According to the amended timeline, both Kaliningrad ships are to be delivered to the Indian Navy in 2024.

In November 2018, Rosoboronexport inked a contract for around $500 million with the Indian shipyard Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) to assist in the construction of two more Project 11356 frigates for the Indian Navy, along with the transfer of licences and technology from Russia. On January 25, 2019, the Indian government inked a contract with GSL to build two frigates for the Indian Navy. These ships are expected to be delivered to the Indian Navy in June and December 2026, respectively. The first of two, Triput, was laid down at GSL on January 29, 2021, with the second laid down on June 18, 2021.

All four Indian Project 11356 frigates ordered will be fit with standard M7N series gas turbine main propulsion units made by the Nikolaev Gas Turbine Plant “Zorya” – “Mashproekt”, which were later supplied to the Indian side by UkrOboronProm State Concern. The two frigates under construction in Kaliningrad got conventional M7N1 units, initially built for them by Zorya-Mashproekt under a contract with the Russian Navy. The Indian side purchased these power unit sets under a $76 million contract signed with Zorya-Mashproekt in October 2019; the Indian side accepted the first in May 2020, and both were delivered to Kaliningrad. The two frigates under construction in India at GSL will receive upgraded M7N2 units, with the Indian side signing a deal with Zorya-Mashproekt for their fabrication and supply in September 2021.

The Indian Navy already has six Talwar-class frigates under construction, with the first three (F 40 Talwar, F 43 Trishul, F 44 Tabar) built at the Baltic Shipyard in Saint Petersburg and handed over to the Indian Navy in 2003-2004, and three more (F 45 Teg, F 50 Tarkash, F 51 Trikand) built at Yantar Shipyard and handed over to the Indian Navy in 2012-2013. Thus, with the extra four frigates being built, the Indian Navy will have ten ships from this class.


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