In what may act as a huge thrust for Make in India, The Defence Ministry has initiated the process to construct 6 stealth submarines under the “Project-75 India (P-75I)”. This is one of the biggest deals in the history of the Indian Navy and the project has been termed as the “mother of all underwater deals”. It would cost around 50,000 crore rupees which is almost equal to the Rafale deal which cost the government 60,000 crore rupees.
The Ministry of Defence has issued ‘expression of interest’(EOI) to Indian Shipyards. The six submarines would be built by an Indian Shipyard under the “strategic partnership (SP)” model with foreign companies. The construction of six submarines is an important part of Modi government’s ‘Make in India’ policy in defence sector.
The project was first approved in November 2007 but was stuck between bureaucratic red tape and inefficiency of UPA government. It could not take off even in the first term of Modi government due to prioritization of other defence purchase in other crucial sectors. The private and public Indian shipyards like Mazagon Dock Limited, Mumbai, Cochin Shipyard Limited, Goa Shipyard Limited, L&T and many others are expected to compete to bag the deal worth billions. They are given two months to respond to the EOI.
The foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) which responded to Indian government’s request for information (RFI) were Naval Group-DCNS (France), ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (Germany), Rosoboronexport Rubin Design Bureau (Russia) and Saab Kockums (Sweden) and therefore any of these groups are expected to collaborate with Indian Shipbuilders to manufacture six submarines for Indian Navy. “The Navy would have the option to get six more submarines manufactured in the dedicated submarine production line to be set up under the project,” said an official. The EOI to shortlist OEMs will be issued in two weeks.
“Construction of six submarines under Project 75 (I) will provide a major boost to the existing submarine design and manufacturing eco-system in India through transfer of design and equipment technology as well as a necessary skill sets,” said the official from Defence Ministry.
Indian Navy is going through major capability enhancement and modernization program to establish the country’s hegemony in the Indian Ocean. Given the increase in activities of China in the Indian Ocean, it is in the strategic interest of India to enhance the capabilities of the Indian Navy.
Recently, INS Arihant, the lead ship in Arihant class attack submarines of Indian Navy, carried out its first deterrence patrol demonstrating India’s capability towards a credible nuclear deterrent. India is the fourth country after the United States, Russia and China to achieve the ability to launch a nuclear attack from all three fronts. India has now officially become a country capable of Nuclear Triad which means the capability to fire a nuclear weapon from land, air and sea.
Earlier, the parts of missile systems, submarines etc. were built in India but most of the technology-intensive equipment came from western countries like the United States, Russia, France, and the United Kingdom. The top-ranking officials in defence services previously preferred foreign-made arms and ammunition over domestically manufactured ones. But now the heads of three services of Indian Armed Forces back the indigenous manufacturing and have agreed on giving time and resources to domestic companies and research organizations like DRDO, Reliance Defence in order to develop world-class equipment with cutting edge technology.