Government has recently issued a Request for Proposal (RPF) to the two selected Indian Strategic Partners (SP) - MDL and L&T for building six conventional submarines indigenously under the Project 75 India or P-75I.
In this article, all aspects of Project 75(I) and their strategic significance will is discussed and analyzed.
Edited Excerpts from the debate
Indian Strategic Partners
The RFP was issued to shortlisted strategic partners, ie, Indian applicant companies for the project
Mazagaon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL)
Larsen & Tubro (L&T)
Shortlisted foreign OEMs:They would be collaborating with any of the shortlisted foreign OEMs, viz,
Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co Ltd-South Korea
These five foreign firms are world leaders in the field of conventional submarine design, construction and all other related technologies.
The foreign OEMs will be the technology partner in the SP Model.
Foreign OEMs will enable SP for construction of submarines, achieving high levels of indigenisation, and ToT for various technologies.
These OEMs would enable setting up of dedicated manufacturing lines for these submarines in India by providing ToT for submarine design and other technologies.
What will be built under the project?
The project is for six Air-Independent PropulsionorAIP-fitted conventional submarines.
In more explanatory terms, the project envisages indigenous construction of six modern conventional submarines (including associated shore support, Engineering Support Package, training and spares package) with contemporary equipment, weapons & sensors including Fuel-Cell based AIP (Air Independent Propulsion Plant), advanced torpedoes, modern missiles and state of the art countermeasure systems.
AIP allows submarines to stay underwater longer than the conventional diesel-electric propulsion systems.
How significant is the project?
Industrial eco-system:The project would not only aid in boosting the core submarine/ship building industry but would also greatly enhance manufacturing/industrial sector, especially the MSME, by development of an industrial eco-system for manufacture of associated spares/systems/equipment related to submarines.
Strengthening of Armed Forces:It will help in progressively building of indigenous capabilities in the public/private sector to design, develop and manufacture complex weapon systems for the future needs of the Armed Forces.
Self-reliance:This will be an important step towards meeting broader national objectives, encouraging self reliance and aligning the defence sector with the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the government.
In the last two decades, fruitful results have not been achieved. Only three submarines have been commissioned. Thus, government’s approval for the development presents an opportunity to regain the momentum in indigenous submarine construction.
What is Project 75(I)?
The project, called ‘Project 75 (India) [P-75(I)]’ is estimated to cost over Rs 40,000 crore.
In Project 75, the number ‘75’ refers to such unique identifier which was assigned to a programme for series production of submarines in India.
Project 75(I) is part of the30 Year Planfor indigenous submarine construction which had been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security way back in 1999.
It envisaged the construction of 24 SSKs with the first 12 in collaboration with foreign OEMs by 2012 and the remaining 12, indigenously thereafter.
As part of this plan, 24 submarines are to be build—
18 conventional submarines
six nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs)
To streamline submarine construction and induction to ensure contemporary capability besides consolidating the submarine building eco-system within the country.
To “make India the global hub for submarine design and production”.
Indian Navy’s Project 75 entails building six Scorpene-Class attack submarines.
The first Scorpene submarine, Kalvari, was commissioned in 2017.
Second Scorpene Khanderi was inducted in September 2019.
INS Karanj was launched in January 2018.
The remaining submarines (Vela, Vagir, and Vagsheer) in the series are in advanced stages of manufacturing and trials.
Other important projects of Indian Naval Ships
Project 15 Destroyers– Delhi Class (Delhi, Mysore, and Mumbai)
Project 16 Frigates– Godavari Class (Godavari, Ganga and Gomti)
Project 16A Frigates– Brahmaputra Class (Brahmaputra, Betwa and Beas)
Project 17 Stealth Frigates– Shivalik Class (Shivalik, Sahyadri and Satpura)
Project 28 Anti-Submarine Corvettes– Kamorta Class (Kamorta, Kadmatt, Kiltan and Kavaratti)
Submarine strength of China and Pakistan
The Pakistan Navy is estimated to have 10 submarines, of which five French-origin Agosta 90B class (Khalid class) conventional vessels are fully operational.
China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has four Jin-class SSBNs and nine SSNs.
China has a fleet of 40-plus diesel-electric submarines beset by maintenance issues.