Amid growing tension with China and having an ever hostile neighbor like Pakistan, India has finally got a shot in its Arm with a Mother of all Defence Deals. After an excruciating and disappointing 10-year delay India has finally kick-started its “Mother of all underwater defence deals” with France, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Spain and Japan being in the fray to build six advanced stealth submarines for an estimated Rs 70,000 crore ($10.9 billion) in collaboration with an Indian shipyard.
As per the Defence Ministry sources, this conventional submarine programme named a Project-75, languishing in politico-bureaucratic apathy, it got the government’s “acceptance of necessity” way back in November 2007, is likely to be the first mega project under the new “strategic partnership” policy finalized by the defence ministry in May 2017.
Six Ship and Submarine Builders, Naval Group-DCNS (France), ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (Germany), Rosoboronexport Rubin Design Bureau (Russia), Navantia (Spain), Saab (Sweden) and the Mitsubishi-Kawasaki Heavy Industries combine (Japan), have to first respond to the RFI issued to them last week by September 15th.
The Indian Navy will then evaluate it further and formulate the naval staff qualitative requirements before the formal Request for proposal is issued to the selected Six for submitting their technical and commercial bids for further evaluation. The Indian shipyard for the strategic partnership with the selected foreign collaborator will be chosen in a parallel process.
“It may take around two years for the original equipment manufacturer (OEM)-Indian shipyard combine to be down-selected. Moreover, the first new submarine will roll out only seven to eight years after the final contract is inked. But the aim is to fast-track the entire process,” said a defence ministry official.
The Indian Navy wants six new diesel-electric submarines to have land-attack cruise missiles, air-independent propulsion for greater underwater endurance and the capability to integrate indigenous weapons and sensors as and when they are developed. The emphasis would be to develop the capability to handle the possible attack from multiple fronts.
Apart from that the stress would be on the transfer of technology from the OEM and indigenization. The submarines, to be built with indigenous steel, should also be less maintenance-intensive to ensure a better operational cycle with minimal downtime.
As per approved plans by the Modi Government, the Indian Navy should have 18 diesel-electric submarines as well as six nuclear-powered attack submarines and four nuclear-powered submarines with long-range nuclear-tipped missiles for effective deterrence against China and Pakistan.