India doesn’t operate any submarine with the AIP technogy yet far. (Photo | Indian navy)
India doesn’t operate any submarine with the AIP technogy yet far. (Photo | Indian navy)

Delays dog Indian Navy’s high-tech submarine plan

A source familiar with the subject said, “The Project 75 India (P 75I) has been given an extension till the August of 2023 for which the bids can be submitted by all the prospective bidders.”

NEW DELHI: Delays continue to dog the Indian Navy’s ambitious project to construct six advanced (high-tech) conventional submarines the Indian Navy. The timeline for the project has been granted another extension. The Request for Proposal for the project was issued in July 2021 under the Strategic Partnership model of the Make in India initiative. But, there is no concrete headway to move ahead with the project.

A source familiar with the subject said, “The Project 75 India (P 75I) has been given an extension till the August of 2023 for which the bids can be submitted by all the prospective bidders.”

There has been a reservation from the foreign bidders regarding the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) technology which has to be an integral part of the six new boats to be manufactured indigenously.
“There has been no relaxation related to the functional Fuel Cell-based AIP, all the boats are to have a working AIP onboard.” added the sources.

There has been a weak response from the foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) quoting stringent conditions of the RFP which had led to some of them exiting from the process. AIP has been one of the few issues on which the OEMs had observations.

This is the second time that the Request for Proposal (RFP) response had to be extended with the first time extended in June with a deadline of December 31 this year approaching. RFP is an official process to elicit responses from prospective bidders.

AIP technology helps conventional submarines to remain submerged for a longer duration otherwise they have to surface in order to use oxygen to charge their batteries. At present only select countries have this technological know-how and India is also in the process to develop it. While India doesn’t operate any submarine with the AIP, Pakistan already has two such submarines and has tied up with China for six such submarines. Also, the Indian underwater combat force is short of its planned force levels and operates around 16 submarines.

As a major initiative towards ‘Make in India’, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued a Request of Proposal (RFP) for the first acquisition programme under the Strategic Partnership Model for the 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, Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and Larsen & Tubro (L&T). The project cost is over `40,000 crore.

The Ministry of Defence in July 2021, at the time of issuing the RFP had said, “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 to be undertaken.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com