The Indian Defence Ministry issued requests for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) to local shipyards on June 20 in an attempt to move its Project 75 India (P-75(I)) submarine acquisition program forward. These shipyards will serve as the domestic half of a Strategic Partners (SP) team, tying up with a foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to build six diesel-electric attack submarines (SSKs) for the Indian Navy.
Local shipyards expected to respond to the EOI include Larsen & Toubro, Mazagon Dock Ltd and Hindustan Shipyard Ltd.
This initiative is unfolding as the latest Indian Navy submarine, the INS Khanderi, comes under scrutiny. The French-designed Scorpene-type submarine, built by Mazagon Dock under license from France’s Naval Group, features a slew of defects and deficiencies – as many as 36 – that render the Navy unwilling to accept the boat into service. Because of the issues involving testing under certain conditions – such as finding a calm sea environment difficult to achieve during the launch of India’s monsoon season – the induction of the Khanderi into service will likely be pushed back an entire year for a submarine already running five years behind its original delivery target.
The building of six Scorpene submarines in India was already running five years late. Now, with the navy finding 36 defects in the 2nd of the series — INS Khanderi — that delay will increase by at least another year. Project 75 will not end before 2022. https://t.co/lF3IxHILPg
— Ajai Shukla (@ajaishukla) June 15, 2019
Project 75(I) follows its predecessor, Project 75 (involving the aforementioned production of Scorpene class submarines), in tow, with the aim being to run two production batches of six submarines apiece. Both projects fall under the “30-Year Plan for Indigenous Submarine Production” approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 1999.
While Project 75 continues through 2022 following a contract signing between India and French naval builder DCN International (now Naval Group) in October 2005, the more ambitious procurement model sought under Project 75(I) could result in an even longer development timeline. An OEM-Indian shipyard tie-up and downselection is likely to take up to two years, followed by a contract negotiation period and then a seven- to eight-year production cycle for the lead boat.
JUST IN: Indian MoD issues expression of interest (EoI) to shortlist Indian strategic partners (SP) for the ₹45,000 crore Project 75-India (P75I) submarine build program. EoI for OEMs to be issues in 2 weeks. Submarine type contenders: pic.twitter.com/wuT6IywrBX
— Livefist (@livefist) June 20, 2019
Project 75(I) will be just the second project launched under the Modi government’s Strategic Partnership procurement model. Under this approach, a foreign OEM is selected directly by the Defence Ministry on the basis of requirements and the technology offered, after which it is tied up in a joint venture with a private Indian company shortlisted for that particular sector (aerospace, land systems, naval, etc.).
The Indian Ministry of Defence is expected to issue EOIs to foreign OEMs in two weeks, with France’s Naval Group, Sweden’s Saab, Russia’s Rubin Design Bureau, and Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) all expected to respond.