Five Indian shipyards, including the one in which Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani recently picked up controlling stake, have been shortlisted by a top government committee to compete for a Rs 64,000-crore project to build high-tech submarines for the navy.
Six advanced submarines will be built under project P-75I. One of the costliest projects under the Make in India programme, it is expected to scale up the navy’s undersea warfare capabilities and is critical to counter the rapid expansion of China’s submarine fleet.
The shipyards shortlisted by the high-powered panel are Mazagon Dock Limited, Hindustan Shipyard Limited, Cochin Shipyard Limited and private sector yards Pipavav and Larsen & Toubro, a top government official told HT. Ambani’s Reliance Infrastructure bought controlling stake in Pipavav this March.
The shipyards, identified after a seven-month rigorous process, will be invited to submit bids to build the submarines in partnership with foreign yards of their choice.
German conglomerate Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems with its HDW Type 214 submarine, Russia’s Rubin Design Bureau’s Amur 1650 boats, French DCNS with its Scorpene platform, Spain’s Navantia S-80 class and Sweden’s Saab Kockums’ with its A26 submarines have shown interest in the project to build a second line of submarines in India.
The new submarines will have the capability to operate underwater for several weeks with air-independent propulsion systems, greater strike power against land targets and improved stealth features that make them harder to detect.
Already, six Scorpene submarines are being built at the Mazagon Dock Ltd with technology from DCNS under a Rs 23,562-crore project called P-75. But the first of these will be ready only by late 2016, almost five years behind schedule.
India currently operates 13 ageing conventional submarines and an Akula-II nuclear-powered attack boat leased from Russia at Rs 5,500 crore. In contrast, China’s submarine fleet is growing in numbers and sophistication – Beijing possesses 53 diesel-electric attack submarines, five nuclear attack submarines and four nuclear ballistic missile submarines.
India will complete its nuclear triad — the ability to launch strategic weapons from land, air and sea — only when it inducts the indigenous ballistic missile submarine, Arihant. The boat will carry out weapon trials later this year, including the testing of nuclear-capable B05 submarine-launched ballistic missile. The navy, however, has refused to set a deadline for the submarine to take up deterrence patrols.