New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday said that India needs to put greater focus on its submarine building plans and increase its fleet.
Speaking on the need to increase the number of submarines from the current number of 24, Parrikar said: "We need to rethink about the total number, as per the requirement based on our future projection."
The Defence Minister was speaking at a Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) seminar on "Current and Future Challenges in Design and Construction of Underwater Vehicles" here.
Speaking on the importance of indigenisation and retainment of skills, Parrikar said: "Indigenisation in the Scorpene class is not up to the expectation. But indigenisation in the ATV (nuclear submarine) project probably has crossed 70 per cent," he added.
India is indigenously building six nuclear submarines under the Advance Technical Vehicle (ATV) project.
However, on the sidelines of the seminar, a senior navy official said: "It is difficult to say how many submarines India might need in future, as it is dependent on many factors like budget, manpower training and industrial capability."
India, under its 30-year submarine plan, has envisaged constructing 24 submarines. The project ends in 2030.
India was supposed to have two parallel submarine construction lines to build submarines in India under Project 75 and Project 75(I). The Mumbai-based Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL) is constructing six French Scorpene submarines under Project 75.
The first submarine under Project 75, INS Kalvari, will be commissioned in January next year and the second submarine is in the line for sea trials, the minister informed.
Calling the subject of the seminar a "high priority", Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba in his keynote address at the event said: "The road map for expansion and growth of Indian Navy is firmly anchored in the indigenisation for over five decades now."
"The Indian Navy has since long identified this as a surety for sustainable and affordable defence," Lanba added.
The Indian Navy's Submarine Design Group is celebrating its 30th year of establishment.
Speaking on the challenges being faced by Indian shipyards in submarine construction, the naval chief said: "Considerable success has been achieved in the field of warship design and production. Submarine design and construction is an area that continues to pose significant challenges."
Informing the seminar about the amount of capital acquisition by the Ministry of Defence, Parrikar said: "By the end of this financial year, we hope and expect to touch Rs 3,00,000 crore in terms of acquisition contract."