Biggest Military Deal---Six New-Generation Subs for Indian Navy(Project-75I)

 If you thought the Rs 42,000 crore project to procure 126multi-role fighters for the IAF was the "mother of all defence deals",think again. The stage is now being set for aneven bigger project—this one worth over Rs 50,000 crore for sixnew-generation submarines for the Indian Navy.
The Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC), chaired by defence minister A KAntony, has finally decided that three of the six submarines will beconstructed at Mazagon Docks (MDL) in Mumbai and one at HindustanShipyard Ltd (HSL) in Visakhapatnam, with the help of a foreigncollaborator. 

"The other two submarines will either be imported from the foreignvendor directly or constructed at a private shipyard in India.
Fresh estimates show each of these six diesel-electric submarines will cost almost Rs 8,500 crore," a source said. 

Under the programme—called Project-75 India(P-75I)—apart from stealth, land-attack capability and the ability toincorporate futuristic technologies, all the six new submarines will beequipped with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems to boost theiroperational capabilities.

Conventional diesel-electric submarines have to surface every few days to get oxygen to recharge their batteries. WithAIP systems, they can stay submerged for much longer periods, narrowingthe gap with nuclear-powered submarines which can operate underwaterfor virtually unlimited periods.
The selection of the foreign collaborator for P-75I will, of course,take time because a RFP (request for proposal) will first have to beissued to submarine manufacturers like Rosoboronexport (Russian),DCNS/Armaris (French), HDW (German) and Navantia (Spain). Shortlistingand detailed technical and commercial negotiations will follow, beforethe actual contract can be inked.

Navy has reasons to be worried. By 2015 or so, it will be left withjust half of its present fleet of 15 ageing diesel-electricsubmarines—10 Russian Kilo-class, four German HDW and one Foxtrot.Moreover, it has been hit hard by the almost three-year delay in theongoing Project-75 for six French Scorpene submarines at MDL, underwhich the vessels were to roll out one per year from 2012 onwards, withprice escalation pushing the total cost beyond Rs 20,000 crore, as wasfirst reported by TOI.

For P-75I, the second line of submarines, the navy was keen on aprivate domestic shipyard to tie-up with the foreign vendor since itfelt MDL was already "overloaded" with orders and quick deliveryschedules were "critical".

But the DAC has decided otherwise, holding that the infrastructure andcapabilities acquired by MDL in the Scorpene project could not beallowed to go waste."Let’s hope thing go smoothly now, and instead of 10 years, the navygets its first submarine under P-75I in six to seven years," anofficial said.
Submarines can be game-changers in any conflict.And if they are armed with nuclear-tipped missiles, they provide themost effective strategic deterrent available around the world at thispoint of time. The US and Russia, after strategic arms reduction pacts,in fact, plan to retain over 60% of their nuclear weapons in the shapeof SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles) fitted onnuclear-powered submarines called "boomers", or SSBNs.

Though India does not have nuclear submarines andSLBM capabilities at present to complete its "nuclear triad", it hopesto move forward by inducting the Akula-II class attack submarine K-152Nerpa on a 10-year lease from Russia in October this year, and then thefirst indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant by early-2012.

Pakistan, incidentally, already has its first Mesma AIP-equippedsubmarine, PNS Hamza, the third of the French Agosta-90B submarines ithas inducted since 1999. It is now looking to induct three advancedType-214 German submarines with AIP. China, in turn, has 62 submarines,with 10 of them being nuclear-propelled.

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