- In a major step towards building advanced submarines for the Indian Navy, defence ministry has begun the process to shortlist potential Indian shipyards for constructing six new-generation conventional stealth submarines.
- The construction will be done with foreign collaboration under the “strategic partnership (SP)” model as part of the overall “Make in India” policy.
Current submarine arsenal of India:
- India’s current arsenal consists of 14 conventional submarines and two nuclear-powered submarines.
- Of the 14 conventional submarines India currently possesses, including the Scorpene, only half are operational at any given point of time.
- India also has two nuclear-powered submarines — INS Arihant (SSBN, a ballistic missile submarine) and INS Chakra (SSN, a nuclear-powered one) leased from Russia.
About Strategic Partnership (SP) Model:
- The policy on Strategic Partnerships in Defence sector was approved by Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in 2017.
- The model is being implemented to enable participation of private Indian firms in Make in India in defence.
- Strategic Partnership Model aims to revitalise defence industrial ecosystem and progressively build indigenous capabilities in the private sector to design, develop and manufacture complex weapon systems for the future needs of the Armed Forces.
- The Indian strategic partner will be the systems integrator by building an extensive ecosystem and will tie-up with foreign manufacturers to cover manufacturing, transfer of technology and assistance in building.
- Enhance competition
- Increase efficiencies
- Facilitate faster and more significant absorption of technology
- Create a tiered industrial ecosystem
- Ensure development of a wider skill base and trigger innovation,
All these leading to boosting defence industry, timely delivery of equipment to Armed forces and reduction in dependence on imports and greater self-reliance in meeting national security objectives.
- The following four segments have been identified for acquisition under Strategic Partnership (SP) route:
- Fighter Aircraft
- Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) / Main Battle Tanks (MBTs).
- In 1999, the Cabinet Committee on Security had approved a ‘30-Year Plan for Indigenous Submarine Construction’.
- It was to develop two production lines on which six submarines each- named Project 75 and Project 75 (I)- would be built with foreign submarine makers.
- The two projects are important for the navy to replace its ageing Sindhughosh and Shishumar class submarines, which number around 13 and most of which are close to 30 years old.
- While the first Scorpene class submarine, INS Kalvari, was commissioned into the navy in December 2017, the remaining five are at different stages of construction and trials.
About Project 75 India (P-75I)
- P75I was first cleared in 2007, but lay dormant until now after undergoing numerous changes.
- The P75I project is part of a 30-year submarine building plan that ends in 2030.
- The project cost is about Rs 45,000 crore.
- Project 75 India (P75I) envisages the construction of six conventional submarines with better sensors and weapons and the Air Independent Propulsion System (AIP). The project has been cleared under the strategic partnership model.
Note: Air-independent propulsion (AIP) is any marine propulsion technology that allows a non-nuclear submarine to operate without access to atmospheric oxygen. It can augment or replace the diesel-electric propulsion system of non-nuclear vessels.
- Under the strategic partnership model, an Indian shipyard will be selected by the government, which will also nominate the foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) under the overall arch of ‘Make in India’.
- The Ministry of Defence has issued the “Expression of Interest” (EoI) for shortlisting potential Indian Strategic Partners (SPs) for construction of six conventional submarines for P-75(I) Project of the Indian Navy.
- The SPs in collaboration with the manufacturers will set up dedicated manufacturing lines for these submarines in India.
- All six submarines under this project will be built in India by the selected Indian Strategic Partner in collaboration with the selected manufacturer.
- The Indian Navy would also have the option to manufacture six more submarines under the project
- In addition to bringing in the latest submarine design and technologies, it would provide a major boost to the indigenous design and construction capability of submarines in India.