Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

India to revamp its submarine fleet

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, Dec 29, IRNA -- Faced with a fast-depleting underwater combat army India is planning a major rejig of its submarine production plants to ensure its operational readiness does not get further eroded in the years ahead.

For starters, the case for equipping the last two of the six French Scorpene submarines being built at Mazagon Docks (MDL) with the crucial air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems is now being ``progressed'', the times of India said quoting top defence ministry.

The six diesel-electric Scorpenes are slated for delivery in the 2015-2020 timeframe under the ongoing Rs 23,562-crore `Project-75', three years behind schedule. AIP in the fifth and sixth vessels, costing an additional Rs 1,000 crore each, will give them a deadlier killer punch and stealth because they will be able to stay submerged for much longer periods before surfacing to get oxygen to recharge their batteries.

Then, India is likely to go in for three additional Scorpenes after the first six.

'While no decision has yet been taken, it makes economic sense since six of them are already being built at MDL. The second submarine workshop at MDL, incidentally, will get operational soon,'' said an official.

It will also be operationally expedient since, as was first reported by TOI earlier, the already long-delayed follow-on `Project-75 India' to acquire six new-generation stealth submarines will take at least another two to three years to be even finalized. It will take another seven years, if not more, after that for the first new submarine to toll out.

'Going in for three more Scorpenes is one way out of the logjam over P-75I, with Navy and MoD yet to agree on the shipyards to execute the project. The French companies will, of course, charge hefty amounts for the ToT (transfer of technology) packages for the three more Scorpenes,'' he said.

Moreover, the P-75I programme may also be expanded to include nine submarines, all equipped with both tube-launched missiles for land-attack capabilities as well as AIP, instead of the six planned as of now for well over Rs 50,000 crore.

'Two submarine production lines with enhanced capacity, one on the west coast with MDL tying up with a private shipyard, and the other on east with Vizag-based Hindustan Shipyard Ltd doing the same, would be an optimal solution,'' said another official.

It will get worse. As per projections, only five of the existing 14 submarines will be operational by 2020. Even with six new Scorpenes by then, India will remain far short of the minimum of 18 conventional submarines required to deter Pakistan and China.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30738953

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