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Project 75 / Scorpene

Under the Project 75 program, the MoD approved construction of two types of new-generation submarines in 1997. And in 1999 negotiations for the Scorpene submarines began with Thomson-CSF, which later became Thales, and which by 2005 jointly owned Amaris with French shipyard DCN.

The Scorpene is a conventional submarine with classical diesel propulsion. It is 219 feet long and has a speed of over 20 knots for a displacement of 1,700 tonnes. With 31 men on board it can remain at sea for about 50 days and can dive to a depth of more than a thousand feet.

Set to be Indias first ultra-deep diving vessel, the Scorpne is stealthier than the average submarine. The design uses "high-yield specific steel," which allows it to dive almost 1,000 feet into the ocean. It also uses a noise-cancelling technique, whereby its equipment is mounted on elastic to prevent noisy vibrations from travelling outside the vessel. The Scorpnes body is also designed to be harder for Sonar to detect.

The Scorpene Submarine has been jointly developed by DCN of France and Navantia Spain and incorporates the very latest Naval technology. At the heart of the submarine is the SUBTICS integrated combat system, a highly computerised central management system, which oversees all of the submarine's sensors and its seapons. Each Scorpene will have a total complement of just 31.

Submarines are, in fact, the ultimate stealth weapons. Despite advances in sonar technology over the decades, detecting, tracking and targeting submarines remains extremely difficult, particularly in the Indian Ocean where the salinity of the seas and the presence of thermal zones of variable water temperature, make submarine detection extremely difficult. Submarines like the Scorpene make this game of detection and counter-detection even tougher. Designed to be extremely silent, the Scorpene can loiter under water for days, scouring the seas through long-range passive sonar signals, which detect the presence of other submarines and warships in the vicinity.

Designated as Project-75 Scorpene, it will see the latest in French conventional submarine building technology being turned into reality by the expert and experienced technocrats of MDL. The project will be managed by ARMARIS, the prime contractor from the French side and executed in India by MDL. Transfer of Technology will involve training MDL engineers and technicians in France as well as training in Indian Navy personnel in operating and maintaining these sophisticated submarines. The Scorpene represents the state of the art craftsmanship in conventional submarine design and construction. Its combat management system and low acoustic signature give it an edge over contemporary submarines.

The Scorpene construction put the challenge of absorbing yet another different technology and East Yard rose to the occasion and accepted it with determination. Already the efforts have started bearing fruit and East Yard is well advanced in its path of constructing a trial section as required by the French technology supplier DCN. With new technology comes new tasks and East Yard has adequately geared itself up to accomplish them within the constraints of an exacting schedule, by upgrading the welding stations and other machinery in a time bound manner.

In November 2002 the Government approved a long term perspective plan for indigenous construction of submarines and acquisition of national competence in submarine building. Project 75 is part of this plan. Mazagon Docks Limited, Mumbai was identified as the yard to ultimately construct French designed Scorpene Submarines on successful completion of negotiations with the French Company. However, no final decision on the proposal had been taken.

In April 2003 French Defence Minister Michele Alliot Marie Monday pledged stronger military ties with India at the end of talks with Indian leaders focussed on the supply of submarines and fighter jets. The possible sale to India of six French designed Scorpene submarines as well as Mirage fighter planes came up in the talks. If the deal had been signed in 2003, the first Indian built Scorpene would have been ready in 2010 and the sixth in 2016. However India was pressing Paris to stop the sales of French weapons to Pakistan before clinching the Scorpene deal.

France's naval construction company DCN was to sign a contract in September 2005 to supply India with six Scorpene type submarines. Defence electronics group Thales, prime contractor for the system, had signed an agreement with the Bombay-based naval shipyard Mazagon Dock for a transfer of technology so that the subs could be built there. The contract, estimated to cost $3.5 billion, was signed at the Defence Ministry by representatives of the Indian and French governments.

The Indian Ministry of Defence, under pressure from the Indian Navy and facing an ultimatum from the French government, agreed to buy the six Scorpene submarines for $4.6 billion - $1.4 billion more than the price tag negotiated in 2002. The increased cost was blamed on the prolonged negotiations that invalidated the $3.2 billion price tag agreed in 2002.

In September 2005 President Jacques Chirac confirmed an order from India for six Franco-Spanish Scorpene submarines as he received visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Elysee palace. The Scorpene order is valued at 2.4 bln eur. The deal had been in the works for several years. The Scorpene submarines are built by France's DCN shipyards and Spain's Izar. It will add to fleet strength which was projected to rise to 24 from the current 16.

DCNS India Private Limited was inaugurated in March 2009 in Mumbai. It is specializing in naval services. DCNS Indias main missions are to support the naval shipyards and industries (Naval Technical Advice Department), to develop local services with Indian talents (Design & Marine Engineering Department), to achieve localized production with large base industrial partners (Programme Department) and to extend sourcing opportunities for both local and international needs (Sourcing & Purchasing Department).

With the option of acquiring four more [for a total of 10], the first three boats will be conventional diesel-electric submarines, with subsequent ones incorporating air-independent propulsion. The design reportedly allows for the installation of a small nuclear reactor. The Scorpene contract apparently also provided for Indian acquisition of critical underwater missile-launch technology. at that time other expected Indian submarine acquisitions included four to six Amur 1650 hunter-killer boats (SSKs) and two each of the more advanced versions of the Kilo and Shishumar submarines.



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