The Indian Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on 4 June approved the issue of the Request For Proposal (RFP) for construction of six Conventional Submarines under Project P 75 I Submarine under the Strategic Partnership (SP) Model. This project envisages indigenous construction of six conventional submarines equipped with the state-of-the-art Air Independent Propulsion system at an estimated cost of Rs 43,000 crore (about $7 billion).
The 22-year-old proposal to build six diesel-electric submarines, is a part of the 30-year submarine construction plan for 24 conventional submarines.
The Indian Defence Ministry has shortlisted two domestic shipyard companies, the state-owned Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and private sector firm Larsen & Toubro, to collaborate with five overseas original equipment manufacturers. The five companies are Rubin Design Bureau of Russia, Naval Group of France, Navantia of Spain, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems of Germany, and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering of South Korea.
“At long last there seems to be a light at the end of a tunnel which has stretched for 16 year period. A contract which could have been finalized then is still a couple of years away, even if the RFP was issued yesterday. Further, the scheme thought up for shortlisted yards to pick the collaborator out of five is a harebrainer. One hopes that the Project should see the light of day earliest as our force levels are depleting by the day,” said Cmde Arun Kumar (Retd.) who is a former submariner and was once steering the 30 Yr plan. The plan was conceived by his predecessor under guidance of Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat as Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) and Rear Admiral AK Singh as Assistant Chief of Naval Staff submarines.
“The CCs approval came when I was in the chair and I had prepared the roadmap for its implementation,” he said.
The Indian Navy has just 14 submarines, including 7 kilo class submarines, 4 SSK or the HDW submarines and 3 Scorpene class submarines. 3 more scorpene submarines are under various stages of construction in the MDL.
“If the 30 Yr plan had been implemented as conceived, then the Contract for P 75I would have been concluded by 2005 and the first sub under the project would be undergoing a medium refit by now,” said Cmde Arun Kumar (Retd).
As per the original plan, the design for P 75 was to be from the Western origin and for P 75I from Eastern origin (Russia). The Plan was to absorb the best of technologies from the Eastern and Western designed submarines and create a an Indian design incorporating these technologies.