India to build six state-of-the-art submarines at Rs 43,000 crore

According to the Ministry of Defence, the mega submarine project is the first case processed under the Strategic Partnership model. Moreover, it would be one of the largest ‘Make in India’ projects and will serve to facilitate faster and more significant absorption of technology and create a tiered industrial ecosystem for submarine construction in India.

Giving a major boost to its Navy, India has decided to indigenously build six conventional submarines equipped with state-of-the-art technology such as air independent propulsion system at a cost of around Rs 43,000 crore. A meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) held under the Chairmanship of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh gave clearance to issue of Request for Proposal (RFP) for construction of the submarines under Project P 75 (I) of the Strategic Partnership (SP) model.

A landmark approval, the submarine project is the first case processed under the SP model. Moreover, it would be one of the largest ‘Make in India’ projects and will serve to facilitate faster and more significant absorption of technology and create a tiered industrial ecosystem for submarine construction in India, according to the MoD. The Government also believes that from a strategic perspective, the initiative will help reduce the current dependence on imports and gradually ensure greater self-reliance and dependability of supplies from indigenous sources.

The approval will also help the country realize its 30-year submarine construction programme envisioned by the government to acquire national competence in submarine construction and the Indian industry to independently design and construct submarines in India. The availability of new technologies and advanced manufacturing capabilities to the industry will be an important step towards enhancing the nation’s quest for self-reliance in modern conventional submarine construction and sustainment activities along with creating direct and indirect job opportunities in India, says the MoD.

The DAC approved the issuance of RFP to private shipbuilder Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and state-owned Mazagaon Docks Ltd (MDL). Both L&T and MDL will have to respond to the RFP by tying up with one of the five already short-listed foreign shipyards which are Rosoboronexport (Russia), Daewoo (South Korea), ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (Germany), Navantia (Spain) and Naval Group (France). The project will be implemented in around 12 years and the final cost may go up depending on the weapons systems to be incorporated into the stealth submarines.

An important feature of implementing the project under SP Model is that it provides a unique long-term opportunity and planning certainty for the industry to invest and support submarine construction. It is also expected to infuse the latest technology and weaponry for submarines in India through strategic tie-up between Indian Industry and leading foreign OEMs.

The Indian Navy plans to acquire 24 new submarines, including six nuclear attack submarines, to bolster its underwater fighting capability. It currently has 15 conventional submarines and two nuclear submarines.

Meanwhile, the Indian Navy is also in the process of procuring 57 carrier-borne fighter jets, 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) and 123 multi-role helicopters under the SP model.

Other approvals

Along with the submarine project, DAC has approved proposals concerning capital acquisitions of various equipment for modernisation and operational needs of the Armed Forces amounting to around Rs 6,000 crore. For instance, there was a long-pending need of the Indian Army for modernisation of its Air Defence guns. These had been earlier procured only from foreign sources. With the continued thrust of MoD towards ‘Átmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Make in India’, an enthusiastic response from about 12 Indian companies was received. All of them have expressed their willingness and commitment to manufacture this complex gun system and associated equipment by ensuring technology assimilation in India. Accordingly, the DAC accorded approval of procurement of Air Defence Guns and Ammunition under the Buy & Make (Indian) category.

In yet another fillip to the Armed Forces, the DAC extended the timelines for progressing urgent capital acquisitions under the delegated powers to the Armed Forces up to August 31, 2021.  This will enable the Armed Forces to complete their emergent and critical acquisitions and facilitate faster induction of required arms and ammunition in order to meet the operational challenges.

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