The Indian government on Thursday formally decided that the long-pending project to construct six new-generation conventional stealth submarines will be executed under the “strategic partnership (SP)” model, with an Indian shipyard collaborating with a foreign collaborator under the overall “Make in India” policy. Dubbed as the “mother of all underwater deals” because it will cost at least Rs 50,000 crore, the submarine project called “Project-75 India (P-75I)” was first approved by the defence ministry in November 2007 but has been languishing in general politico-bureaucratic apathy, files and committees ever since. The Indian Navy has for long been sounding the alarm over the huge delay in even kicking off the acquisition process for P-75I, under which the six submarines will have both land-attack cruise missiles and air-independent propulsion for greater underwater endurance, since it will take at least two years for the original equipment manufacturer or foreign collaborator-Indian shipyard combine to be down-selected under the SP model.
The Indian Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), in a landmark decision today, also approved indigenous construction of six submarines for the Indian Navy at a cost of over Rs. 40,000 crores. This is the second project under the MoD’s ambitious Strategic Partnership (SP) model that aims at providing a significant fillip to the Government’s ‘Make in India’ programme. SP model envisages indigenous manufacturing of major defence platforms by an Indian Strategic Partner, who will collaborate with foreign OEM to set up production facilities in the country. The model has a long term vision of promoting India as a manufacturing hub for defence equipment through transfer of niche technologies and higher Indigenous Content thereby enhancing self-sufficiency for meeting the future requirements of the Armed Forces. Once the contract is actually inked, it will take another seven to eight years for the first vessel to actually roll out. Four ship-builders, Naval Group-DCNS (France), ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (Germany), Rosoboronexport Rubin Design Bureau (Russia) and Saab Kockums (Sweden), had earlier responded to the request for information (RFI) issued for P-75I in July 2017.
The Project 75I-class submarine is a follow-on of the Project 75 Kalvari-class submarines for the Indian Navy. Under this project, the Indian Navy intends to acquire six diesel-electric submarines, which will also feature advanced Air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems to enable them to stay submerged for longer duration and substantially increase their operational range. All six submarines are expected to be constructed in Indian shipyards. The Project 75I-class submarines will have a vertical launch system (VLS) to enable them to carry multiple Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles, making the submarines fully capable of anti-surface and anti-ship warfare missions. Project 75I submarines will also be armed with torpedoes and will feature advanced stealth capabilities such as a greater ability to suppress noise and acoustic signatures. Submarines will also be outfitted with Air-independent propulsion (AIP) fuel cells which can significantly increase submerged endurance and operational range.