India's mega-submarine project: Japan, Spain pull out; 4 contenders left
In a new development, Japan and Spain have opted out of their bids to build six advanced-stealth submarines for India under Project-75. India had earlier invited proposals from six foreign equipment manufacturers, including Germany's Thyssenkrupp and Sweden's Saab. However, Mitsubishi-Kawasaki Heavy Industries combine (Japan) and Navantia (Spain) purportedly missed the deadline to turn in their expressions of interest. Here's more about it.
Project 75(I) is an Indian Navy's submarine acquisition programme, under which it plans to develop 6 next-generation stealth submarines. These submarines are envisaged to be equipped with both the tube launched missiles for land attack and AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) system for greater underwater endurance. It is the first project to be initiated under the Strategic Partnership Model initiated in May 2017.
The recently initiated model aims to invite the participation of Indian private players in building defense equipment including fighter jets and submarines, in partnership with foreign entities. The projects will be implemented through Joint Ventures controlled by Indian companies, with FDI capped at 49%.
Former Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar had previously noted that the Navy has commissioned only 2 submarines and de-commissioned 5 over the last 15 years. India is left with 13 diesel-electric submarines, half of which have crossed 3/4th of their operational lives, compared to China's 68 submarines. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defense had previously expressed dismay at the "snail's pace" of commissioning naval vessels.
While the strength of India's submarine fleet presently stands at 13, for effective deterrence against China and Pakistan, the Indian Navy should have 18 diesel-electric submarines, six nuclear-powered attack submarines and four nuclear-powered submarines fitted with nuclear-tipped long-range missiles.
The Navy will proceed to issue a formal tender and naval staff quality requirements to the chosen company/companies after examining the Requests for Proposal from four foreign manufacturers: Naval Group-DCNS (France), ThyssenKrupp (Germany), Rosoboronexport (Russia) and Saab (Sweden). The Indian counterpart will be chosen in a parallel process. It may take at least a decade for the first submarine to be ready for roll-out.