NEW DELHI: India on Thursday issued the Expression of Interest and sought application from ship-building companies for the construction of six P 75(I) Submarines for the Navy for about Rs 45,000 crore. The project under the "Make in India" programme of the Narendra Modi government is the second project being undertaken under the latest Strategic Partnership (SP) Model, the first being the procurement of 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH).
As part of the deal, the government is not only aiming to give the Indian Navy the latest conventional submarines, but is also hopeful that P 75(I) would provide "a major boost to the indigenous design and construction capability of submarines in India" along with bringing in the latest submarine design and technologies as part of the project. The project was cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council on January 31, 2019.
The companies shortlisted for P 75(I) will have to set up dedicated manufacturing lines for the six submarines in India and make the country the global hub for design and production of such under-water vessels. After the first six submarines are built in India, the Navy can exercise the option of manufacturing six more warships under P 75 (I).
According to the government press release, the overall aim would be to progressively build indigenous capabilities in the private sector to design, develop and manufacture complex weapon systems for the future needs of the Armed Forces. "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," the release by the Ministry of Defence said.
The Indian Navy currently has 16 active submarines. They are the Akula class, nuclear-powered submarine on lease from Russia INS Chakra, the indigenous nuclear-powered INS Arihant, INS Kalvari, nine Sindhughosh class diesel-electric submarines - INS Sindhugosh, INS Sindhudhvaj, INS Sindhuraj INS Sindhuvir, INS Sindhuratna, INS Sindhukesari, INS Sindhukirti, INS Sindhuvijay, INS Sindhushashtra - and four conventional Shishumar class vessels - INS Shishumar, INS Shankush, INS Shalki and INS Shankul.
INS Arihant, the first submarine built and commissioned under the Rs 90,000 crore Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project to develop nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines for the Indian Navy, joined the force in August 2016 and completed its first deterrence patrol in November 2018. INS Arihant also completes India's nuclear triad as it carries nuclear missiles which can be fired from under the sea. Under the lease agreement of INS Chakra, India cannot arm the submarine with nuclear missiles. INS Chakra at 8,140-tonne is the biggest submarine with the Indian Navy and was commissioned on April 4, 2012, on a 10-year lease from Russia.
INS Kalvari is the latest submarine with the Indian Navy. It is the first of the six Scorpene class submarines built under Project 75 and was commissioned on December 14, 2017. The Sindhughosh class submarines are diesel-electric powered and were commissioned between April 1986 and July 2000. The Shishumar class vessels too are diesel-electric but are almost obsolete. The ships were commissioned between 1986 and 1994.