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Project 75(I)

In October 2008 the Indian Navy issued RFIs (request for information) to a number of international shipbuilding and design yards/firms for the next generation of submarines to be constructed at its shipyards. The RFIs were issued to Russian (Rosoboronexport), French (Armaris) and German (HDW) firms, among others. At that time another round of discussions appeared likely before the RFP (request for proposal), or a global tender, was issued in late-2008 or early-2009. To be executed under Project-75A all the six vessels of this second line of diesel-electric submarines, were to be equipped with air-independent propulsion (AIP).

The new Project 75-I submarines should be huge in value, estimated at around $10 billion-plus, depending upon the offsets and transfer of technology (ToT). The defense offsets policy mandates a minimum investment of 30 per cent to be put back in a related defence industrial venture in India.

Acceptance of Necessity for acquisition of six submarines under Project-75(I) was accorded by the Defence Acquisition Council in August 2010. The case is being progressed in accordance with the Defence Procurement Procedure. The Navy issued a Request for Information 07 September 2010 for procurement of 06 conventional submarines under project 75(I) to identify contemporary conventional submarine for construction of two submarines at collaborators shipyard and four submarines at two indian shipyards.

In October 2010 the Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC), chaired by defence minister A K Antony, decided on a plan worth over Rs 50,000 crore for six new-generation submarines for the Indian Navy. At least three of the six submarines would be constructed at Mazagon Docks (MDL) in Mumbai and one at Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL) in Visakhapatnam, with the help of a foreign collaborator. The other two submarines would either be imported from the foreign vendor directly or constructed at a private yard in India. Each of the six diesel-electric submarines would cost almost Rs 8,500 crore. Under the program — reportedly called Project-75 India (P-75I) — all the six new submarines would be equipped with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems, land-attack capability and other technologies to boost their operational capabilities. An RFP (request for proposal) would first have to be issued to submarine manufacturers like Rosoboronexport (Russian), DCNS/Armaris (French), HDW (German) and Navantia (Spain). The navy would hope to gets its first submarine under P-75I in six to seven years, that is, by 2016-2017. By 2015 it would be left with an ageing fleet of diesel-electric submarines — 10 Russian Kilo-class, four German HDW Typ-209, and one Foxtrot.

Deliveries of the first Project 75 I class submarines were likely only after 2020. The Indian navy requested information from firms who had independently designed and constructed a complete modern conventional submarine which is currently in service / undergoing sea trials. The response to this RFI should also elaborate the following:-

  • scope and depth for transfer of technology (ToT) for submarine design & construction and production of key systems/subsystems at Indian shipyard / by Indian industry.
  • plan for discharge of offset commitments as enumerated in the "defence procurement procedure – 2008"
  • feasibility and proposed approach for use of items / equipments sourced from Indian industry on the submarine.
  • plan for training shipyard personnel for project implementation and indian navy personnel in aspects of submarine design.

It was requested that the response to this RFI be forwarded by 30 September 2010. Acceptance of Necessity for acquisition of Six Submarines under Project-75(I) was accorded by the Defence Acquisitions Council in August 2011. The proposal was being progressed. Cost details would be available on finalization of contracts. At a press conference in December 2012, the Chief of the Naval Staff stated that the RFPs for the follow-on Project 75-I were to be issued “soon”, yet a year passed with no movement on that program. By August 2013 proposal for construction of the six submarines (Project-75(I)) was in the advanced stage of sanction.

  1. When the Request for Information went out for six more next generation submarines as part of Navy's Project 75-I (India), the French apparently made an offer of bigger Scorpenes, which was a bit awkward, given that the six Scorpenes contracted by India under ToT (transfer of technology) via Project 75 was overdue. DCNS offered the Super Scorpene design, with MESMA AIP. The French claim the submarine design can be fitted with a nuclear propulsion package plug on the lines of the French nuclear submarine of the Rubis class.
  2. Navantia, which has broken off from DCNS, offered the Spanish S-80 design, with a competitive ethanol based AIP. But officials said the Spanish company had withdrawn its technical specifications due to weight issues with their submarine.
  3. The Rubin Design Bureau was looking to manufacture an appropriate version of the Amur-1650 that would satisfy the requirements of the Indian Navy. Russia was in a position to ensure fast delivery of its Amur-class, if bought off-the-shelf. If India wanted to integrate something like the BrahMos cruise missile or the underdevelopment air independent propulsion, it was also possible. It would then take time to get operational.
  4. Fincantieri/Rubin has offered the S-1000 design.
  5. ThyssenKrupp Marine has offered the HDW Type 214.
  6. South Korea, which had locally manufactured the 212 HDW submarines under license, offered its interest in the project.
  7. India’s Larsen & Toubro (L&T), which has engaged in building India’s ATV nuclear submarine INS Arihant with Russian help, was confident that it can also deliver new submarines in cooperation with foreign shipyards.

On 01 January 2014 Ministry of defence (MOD) selected Defence Public sector unit Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) to build three next generation Diesel submarines for Indian Navy under Project 75I. Under this deal two submarines would be built by selected foreign submarine supplier and three would be build by Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL). Interestingly dying defence PSU Hindustan shipyard has again been selected to build last submarine under Project 75I. Hindustan shipyard has failed to complete upgrades to a kilo class submarine INS Sindhukirti which first went to dry docks there in 2006 and remained there.

By December 2014 Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government accelerated the bidding process for six new diesel-electric submarines, though schedule details were lacking. The push came just months after a stand-off along the disputed border dividing India and China in the Himalayas, and as Chinese submarines have docked in Sri Lanka, the island nation off India's southern coast. Initially, the plan was to import two submarines from the selected vendor. Now, it has been decided to make all the six boats in India as part of the government's efforts towards creating defense industrial infrastructure within the country.

New Delhi was considering a project to build six Japanese Soryu-class diesel-electric submarines in an Indian shipyard, according to Indian media reports. "In keeping with their expanding strategic partnership, the Modi government has asked the Shinzo Abe administration whether it would be interested in the over Rs 50,000 crore [$8.1 billion] project to build six stealth submarines in India," the Times of India reported 30 January 2015.

At 4,200 tons submerged, the Soryu-class is considerably larger than either the [German] Type 214, [French] Scorpene, or improved [Russian] Kilo, and can carry a much heavier weapons load. This size also makes them quieter and longer-ranged than the other boats on the market. At current price expectations of around $500 million, the Soryus are not wildly more expensive than the other boats.

Germany stood ready to offer six diesel-electric submarines with high underwater endurance at the total cost of $9 billion under a government program to replenish the Indian Navy’s aging fleet, The Economic Times reported 06 May 2016. "The offer has certain assurances that the product would meet Indian requirements," an official involved in the process told The Economic Times.

Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) private naval vessel holding company told the newspaper it was "not in a position to comment on talks between the government of the two nations." The company spokesperson said, however, it was interested in offering its 214 class boats with increased underwater endurance and low detection risk. "We define it as a ‘no-holds barred’ transfer of technology in line with Modi government’s ‘Make in India’ push," the TKMS spokesperson said in response to a detailed questionnaire.

In 1999, the Indian Navy drew a Submarine Acquisition Plan, a 30 year roadmap that had envisaged 12 submarines by 2012 and the number was expected to double by 2029. Thanks to the delays in acquisition, the plan is nowhere near completion. 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.

The sea trials of the first Scorpene in May 2016, which marked a movement on the development cycle of the submarine, needed to be followed by an accelerated implementation of the plan already in place. The most immediate being project 75 i, a follow up of the Scorpene class which was derailed due to the delay in announcing Make in India guidelines in the Defence Procurement Procedure. To enhance its Blue Water capability, the Indian Navy opted to strengthen its submarine arm for which Request For Proposal (RFP) to acquire six more conventional submarines under Project 75(I) was cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in 2016. The project would cost around Rs. 80,000 crore.

As a major initiative towards ‘Make in India’, the Government immediately on taking over issued the Expression of Interest(s) on 20 June 2019 for shortlisting of potential Indian Strategic Partners (SPs) for “Construction of six Conventional Submarines” for P-75(I) Project of the Indian Navy. The project cost is about Rs 45,000 Crores. This is the second project being undertaken under the latest Strategic Partnership (SP) Model, with the first being the procurement of 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH). This would provide a major boost to the indigenous design and construction capability of submarines in India, in addition to bringing in the latest submarine design and technologies as part of the project. The case was approved by the Defence Acquisition Council on 31 Jan 19. The EoI for shortlisting of Indian Strategic Partners has been uploaded on MoD and Indian Navy websites. The EoI for shortlisting of OEMs would be issued in two weeks.

The SPs in collaboration with OEMs have been mandated to set up dedicated manufacturing lines for these submarines in India and make India the global hub for submarine design and production. All six submarines under this project would be built in India by the selected Indian Strategic Partner in collaboration with the selected OEM. In addition, Indian Navy would have the option to manufacture six more submarines under the project. The project would not only aid in boosting the core submarine/ ship building industry but would also greatly enhance manufacturing/ industrial sector, especially the MSMEs by development of an industrial eco-system for manufacture of associated spares/ systems/ equipment related to submarines.

The potential SPs are expected to respond to the EoI within two months. The Indian companies would be shortlisted based on their capability for integration of system of systems, expertise in shipbuilding domain and the financial strength. The OEMs would be shortlisted primarily based on their submarine design meeting the Indian Navy’s Qualitative Requirements and qualifying the Transfer of Technology and Indigenous Content (IC) criteria.

The overall aim would be to progressively build indigenous capabilities in the private sector to design, develop and manufacture complex weapon systems for the future needs of the Armed Forces. This would be an important step towards meeting broader national objectives, encouraging self reliance and aligning the defence sector with the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), in its meeting held under the Chairmanship of Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh on June 04, 2021, approved issue of RFP for construction of six Conventional Submarines under Project P 75 (I) under the Strategic Partnership (SP) Model. This project envisages indigenous construction of six conventional submarines equipped with the state-of-the-art Air Independent Propulsion system at an estimated cost of Rs 43,000 crore.

This is a landmark approval, being the first case processed under the Strategic Partnership model. This would be one of the largest 'Make in India' projects and would serve to facilitate faster and more significant absorption of technology and create a tiered industrial ecosystem for submarine construction in India. From a strategic perspective, this would help reduce current dependence on imports and gradually ensure greater self-reliance and dependability of supplies from indigenous sources.

With accord of this approval, the country would be enabled to achieve its 30-year Submarine construction programme envisioned by the Government to acquire national competence in submarine construction and for the Indian industry to independently design and construct submarines in India. The availability of new technologies and advanced manufacturing capabilities to the Industry would be an important step towards enhancing the nation's quest for self-reliance in modern conventional submarine construction and sustainment activities whilst creating direct and indirect job opportunities in India.

This project under SP Model provides a unique long-term opportunity and planning certainty for the industry to invest and support submarine construction. It would also infuse the latest technology and weaponry for submarines in India through strategic tie up between Indian Industry and leading foreign OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer). DAC, the apex decision-making body on defence procurements, gave a green signal for the Request for Proposal (RFP) to be issued to state-owned Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) and private shipyard L&T. With the go-ahead for the RFP, the two Indian shipyards would submit joint bids with five foreign shipyards, namely Russian Rosoboronexport, French defence major DCNS, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, Spanish major Navantia and South Korean Daewoo. It may be noted that MDL is already constructing six Scorpene submarines with French DCNS under project 75. The construction of six Scorpene conventional submarines by Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL), Mumbai, under Project 75, was just 18-24 months from completion.

However, there was still a long way to go. In a regular procurement process, it takes around 3-4 years to clear various stages. In this case, there was no clarity on how much time it would take. Huma Siddiqui posed several questions about the procurement:

  1. If there are two SPs and four OEMs, then would the SPs have the right to eliminate two OEMs from the race? Thereby, limiting the chance for the Indian Navy.
  2. Will the MoD allow SP to run the elimination process which can partially increase the cost of the project significantly.
  3. An OEM who otherwise may have no chance to win the contract because of its expensive solution in a competitive environment can influence the SP to eliminate lower/lower cost OEM by giving a favourable business deal.
  4. Finally, in a contract where the SP will have total dependency for TOT on OEM, in such a case who will be responsible to the MoD for the underperformance – SP or OEM?

As a major initiative towards ‘Make in India’, Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued Request of Proposal (RFP) for the first acquisition programme under the Strategic Partnership Model for construction of six AIP fitted Conventional Submarines named Project 75(India) [P-75(I)] for the Indian Navy, on July 20, 2021. The RFP was issued to shortlisted Strategic Partners (SPs) or Indian Applicant Companies for the project viz, M/s Mazagaon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and M/s Larsen & Tubro (L&T). The project cost is over Rs 40,000 crore.

Project-75(I) envisages indigenous construction of six modern conventional submarines (including associated shore support, Engineering Support Package, training and spares package) with contemporary equipment, weapons & sensors including Fuel-Cell based AIP (Air Independent Propulsion Plant), advanced torpedoes, modern missiles and state of the art countermeasure systems. This would provide a major boost to the indigenous design and construction capability of submarines in India, in addition to bringing in the latest submarine design and technologies as part of the project.

Post receipt of responses to the Expression of Interest (EoI), shortlisting of potential Strategic Partners (SPs) and Foreign OEMs was undertaken. The shortlisted SPs to whom the RFP has been issued would be collaborating with any of the shortlisted Foreign OEMs viz, M/s Naval Group-France, M/s TKMS-Germany, M/s JSC ROE-Russia, M/s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co Ltd-South Korea and M/s Navantia-Spain. These five foreign firms are the world leaders in the field of conventional submarine design, construction and all other related technologies. The foreign OEMs will be the technology partner in the SP Model. Foreign OEMs will enable SP for construction of submarines, achieving high levels of indigenization, and ToT for various technologies. These OEMs would enable setting up of dedicated manufacturing lines for these submarines in India by providing ToT for submarine design and other technologies and make India the global hub for submarine design and production.

The project would not only aid in boosting the core submarine/ship building industry but would also greatly enhance manufacturing/industrial sector, especially the MSME by development of an industrial eco-system for manufacture of associated spares/systems/equipment related to submarines. In order to achieve these objectives, the RFP has key features like mandatory level of indigenous manufacture of platforms, ToT for design/ manufacture/ maintenance of submarines and a few critical equipment and systems, setting up of an eco-system in India for such indigenisation and incentivisation for other key technologies, etc.

The overall aim would be to progressively build indigenous capabilities in the public/private sector to design, develop and manufacture complex weapon systems for the future needs of the Armed Forces. This will be an important step towards meeting broader national objectives, encouraging self reliance and aligning the defence sector with the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government.

The first submarine built under the project is likely to be delivered by 2030.

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Page last modified: 24-07-2021 18:38:56 ZULU