Home / News / India /  Defence ministry clears project to build six new conventional submarines

NEW DELHI : India’s defence ministry on Friday cleared a major project to build six new conventional submarines for the Indian Navy at a cost of about 43,000 crore. The decision comes against the backdrop of a widening gap between Indian and Chinese naval forces.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by defence minister Rajnath Singh.

“The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in its meeting chaired by Raksha Mantri Shri @rajnathsingh today approved proposals concerning Capital Acquisitions of various equipment for modernization and operational needs of the Indian Armed Forces amounting to approx. 6,800 Cr," the defence minister said in a Twitter post. “The DAC also approved issue of RFP for construction of six Conventional Submarines under Project P 75 (I) under the Strategic Partnership (SP) Model. This project envisages indigenous construction of six conventional submarines at an estimated cost of 43,000 cr," he said in a second post.

The DAC is the defence ministry's highest decision-making body on procurement. The request for proposal (RFP) from companies for the make-in-India project christened “P-75 India", or Project 75, will be issued soon, a person familiar with the matter said. Specifications of the submarines and other critical requirements have been completed by the Indian Navy, the person said. According to a statement from the defence ministry, construction of the submarines is the first acquisition under the strategic partnership model—that is, Indian industry in partnership with foreign equipment manufacturers. In January last year, the DAC had short-listed Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd and Larsen and Toubro as the Indian partners for the P-75I deal. There are also five foreign equipment manufacturers short-listed—Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, South Korea; Naval Group of France; Navantia of Spain; Rosoboronexport of Russia; and TKMS of Germany.

The six submarines to be built will be conventional, diesel-electric vessels and are expected to be larger than the Scorpene-class subs currently under construction at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd in Mumbai. The submarines are likely to be equipped with land attack missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles. The watercraft are also expected to be capable of launching torpedoes at sea.

The Indian Navy’s plans to build the six new submarines come as China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy has embarked on major expansion plans to build a Blue Water Navy, that is, to project power beyond its traditional areas. According to some estimates, its submarine fleet comprises as many as 66 craft, both conventional and nuclear.

The US Congressional Research Service predicted last year that China would build nearly 70 new warships by 2030, which would push the total number of its battleships to 420. The US naval fleet was estimated to have 355 ships during the same time frame.

According to the Indian defence ministry, the Indian Navy has 150 ships and submarines with another 50 under various stages of construction.

The defence ministry also said acquisitions worth 6,000 crore green-lighted by the ministry was modernization of its air defence guns. Previously, these had been procured only from foreign vendors. “With the continued thrust of ministry of defence towards ‘ÁtmaNirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Make in India’, an enthusiastic response from about a dozen 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," the ministry said.

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