In a boost to ‘Make in India’ Ministry of Defence (MoD) has finally set the ball rolling on the tender to develop six new-generation stealth submarines in collaboration with foreign partners, a project worth Rs. 42,000 crore.
According to TOI sources, MoD said that the tender or RFP (request for proposal) “should be issued by next month” to defence shipyard Mazagon Docks (MDL) and private ship-builder L&T for the submarine programme, called Project-75 India (P-75I).
It has further said that the project is expected to be finalised by December 2021 at the earliest. The project will bring in key technologies that will become a stepping stone to develop a completely indigenous submarine project (P-76).
P-75I will become the first project to be launched under the Strategic Partnership (SP) policy initiated by the current government in May 2017 to give a boost to ‘Make in India’. The submarine project or other SP projects won’t be affected by the MoD import arms embargo.
Under this plan, the Indian Navy will receive 18 conventional submarines as well as six nuclear-powered attack submarines (called SSNs) and four nuclear-powered submarines with long-range nuclear-tipped missiles (SSBNs) to counter its adversaries including China and Pakistan.
Going forward, the two Indian shipyards or SPs will submit their technical and commercial bids in response to the RFP with their preferred original equipment manufacturer (OEM) from the five short-listed by the MoD earlier.
The five shortlisted OEM are Rubin Design Bureau (Russia), Naval Group-DCNS (France), ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (Germany), Navantia (Spain) and Daewoo (South Korea).
China has been expanding its naval base with 50 diesel-electric and 10 nuclear submarines in comparison to Indian Navy which only possesses two new Scorpene and 13 old (all commissioned well over 20 years ago) diesel-electric conventional submarines, apart from two nuclear-powered submarines.
Four more of the French-origin Scorpenes will be delivered by 2022 under the ongoing over Rs 23,000 crore Project-75 at MDL.
Pakistan also currently possesses five submarines but will soon induct eight Chinese Yuan-class submarines, with air-independent propulsion (AIP) for great underwater endurance.