India’s Ministry of Defense has asked six foreign shipbuilders to respond to the Indian Navy’s long-delayed Project 75 India (P-75I) program, which is worth over $7.8 billion.
The request for information (RFI) has been sent to six selected overseas naval shipbuilders asking for details about locally building six diesel-electric submarines under newly-formulated strategic partnership model under which India’s private defense shipbuilder will collaborate with a foreign manufacturer.
Official sources told Sputnik that Indian Navy had issued RFI on July 19 to Russia’s Rosoboronexport Rubin Design Bureau, France’s Naval Group, Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Spain’s Navantia, and Sweden’s Saab.
Companies will have to respond to the Indian Navy’s request by September 15 this year with operational details of their respective submarines with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems and anti-surface, anti-submarine and land-attack capabilities.
“As all these submarines will be non-nuclear, AIP system will play a crucial role in getting Indian Navy’s contract. Companies like ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, Naval Group are offering their AIP technology to India,” said an industry source.
This project will provide a major boost to country’s private defense firms like Larsen and Toubro, and Reliance Defence who are waiting since long for this delayed project.
“Scorpene project was delayed by years due to India’s state-owned shipbuilder MDL was not able to absorb the technology provided by original manufacturer DCNS and also it delayed due to several gray areas presented in the contract. Last time, the government had selected the company and configuration of the submarine, but this time under P75I, the government will shortlist the submarine and then ask the Indian private company to partner with the manufacturers. A number of private sector companies will participate in the bid and whoever gives the best deal will be selected for the project,” Laxman Kumar Behera, Research Fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), said.
It is expected that request for proposal of the project will only be issued after 2019 and the availability of the submarine will take another seven to eight years if everything goes according to plan. But the lack of experience of the private sector in the submarine manufacturing may pose a challenge to complete the project within a fixed time-frame.
Presently, Indian Navy has 13 diesel-electric submarines in service–9 Kilo-class and four Shishumar (Type 209/1500)-class, but only half of them are operational at any time. India has planned 18 conventional submarines apart from current 13 which are 17 to 31 years old. Two P-75 submarines are expected to join Indian Navy this year.