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Russia pushes ahead with new missile frigates for India

By MARTIN SIEFF   |   Oct. 21, 2008 at 10:59 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- A Russian shipyard announced it would finish building a new guided-missile frigate for India by early next year.

The Yantar shipyard, based in the port city of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, stated Thursday that the frigate was already more than half built, RIA Novosti reported. The ship will be the second in a class of three Project 11356 vessels currently being built in Russian yards for India, and it is scheduled to be handed over to its owners in March next year.

India and Russia closed a $1.6 billion deal to build the three Project 11356 Krivak IV-class guided missile frigates for the Indian navy in July 2006. RIA Novosti noted that Russia had already constructed three earlier Krivak-class frigates -- INS Talwar, INS Trishul and INS Tabar -- for India. The Indian navy received them four years ago.

The last of the six frigates is scheduled to be received by the Indian navy in 2011-12. The three new frigates will be equipped with the new joint Indian-Russian BrahMos supersonic ship-to-ship sea-launched cruise missile -- SLCM -- system that can fly at Mach 2.8 -- almost three times the speed of sound at sea level and three times as fast as the U.S.-built subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile.

The first three frigates in the class were armed with the older Club-N/3M54TE missile system.

RIA Novosti said the Krivak-class frigates were 4,000-metric-ton ships that could sail as fast as 30 knots. It described their primary purpose as "hunting down and destroying large surface ships and submarines."


Russia sends warship to fight Somali pirates

Russia has sent a modern missile frigate to the Horn of Africa region with the capability to fight pirates who are preying on international shipping from the Somali coast.

The Russian navy frigate Neustrashimy ("Fearless") "will, in conjunction with warships from other states, work to minimize the threat of pirate attacks," Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said in Moscow Oct. 14, according to RIA Novosti.

The announcement that the Neustrashimy was prepared to cooperate with other navies in suppressing the piracy threat was an extension of its original mission, which earlier had been announced as guaranteeing the security of Russian ships sailing in the Red Sea and Horn region, RIA Novosti said.

Earlier this month Somali Ambassador to Russia Mohamed Handule said Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed had given approval for the Russian armed forces to combat the pirates in Somalia's territorial waters and on Somali territory, the news agency said.

Somali-based pirates have taken advantage of the country's power vacuum and lack of any effective government, army or navy to operate with impunity from its land and territorial waters. RIA Novosti said the International Maritime Bureau had monitored more than 30 pirate attacks in the last year, with another 30 already reported in 2008.

The Russian government is especially furious over the recent seizure by the pirates of a Ukrainian vessel, the MV Faina, with a cargo of 33 tanks and other heavy weaponry.


Russia may revive Yemeni naval base

After sending naval combat squadrons to Syria and Venezuela, Russia is now moving to revive its Cold War, Soviet-era naval presence in Yemen.

Sergei Mironov, speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian Parliament, said Yemen and its main port of Aden could become a center for the Russian navy to fulfill "strategic goals" in the coming years.

Mironov made his comments during a visit to the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, last Thursday.

In reporting his remarks, RIA Novosti noted they were made in the context of the growing piracy threat off the horn of Africa and in the southern Red Sea. It said "authorities in Yemen already have been calling on Moscow to help fight piracy and possible terrorist threats."

"It's possible that the aspects of using Yemen ports not only for visits by Russian warships, but also for more strategic goals will be considered," Mironov told reporters.

Mironov also suggested Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh might pay a state visit to Russia soon, and the possibility of renewed military technical cooperation between the two countries could then be discussed.

Pirates based in chaotic Somalia on the other side of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden from Yemen last month extended their activities closer to the Yemeni coast when they captured a Panamanian oil tanker.

Mironov stated that Yemeni authorities had expressed concern that terrorist forces linked to the al-Qaida organization could be operating in Somalia and off its coast and that they might seek to carry out attacks in the Arabian Sea, which carries much of the world's oil export sea traffic from the Persian Gulf.

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