NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Defence has initiated the much-awaited process to acquire six new submarines for the Indian Navy, which is struggling to empower its depleting underwater capability.
In this regard, the Ministry has issued the Request For Information (RFI) to global manufacturers under Project-75I and it will be the first project to be initiated under the recently approved Strategic Partnership (SP) model intended to promote private sector participation in defence manufacturing.
According to a Navy official, the strength of the Indian Navy's submarines has dwindled from a total of 21 submarines in the 1980s to 13 conventional submarines, including the indigenous Arihant-class nuclear submarine and one Russian Akula-class submarine operating on lease. While China, in comparison, has a strength of 65 subs, which "is a matter of concern".
The deal for six submarines under P-75I, to be manufactured by an Indian private partner is expected to cost around Rs 50,000 crore to the Indian navy as submarines under this project will be more advanced and lethal than the Scorpene submarines being built by Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) in Mumbai. New submarines would be equipped with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) modules that would greatly enhance the reach and stealth characteristics of the submarine.
According to official sources, the RFI was issued to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries of Japan, Naval Group (formerly DCNS) of France, Navantia of Spain, Rosoboronexport Rubin Design Bureau of Russia, Saab of Sweden and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems of Germany.
And under the Strategic Partnership model, the user will shortlist the Original Equipment Manufacture through the normal selection process while the Indian strategic partner would shortlisted by the Government in a parallel process. And the expected contenders for the deal are Larsen & Tourbo (L&T) and Reliance Defence and Engineering Limited (RDEL) which have their own shipyards.