France ready to offer naval SCALP missile with three Scorpene subs | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

France ready to offer naval SCALP missile with three Scorpene subs

Jul 13, 2023 01:06 PM IST

The naval cruise missile has a range of 1000 kms after being launched from a Scorpene class submarine.

Apart from offer to build three more Scorpene class submarines for the Indian Navy at Mazagon Dockyards in Mumbai, France has also agreed to arm the air independent propulsion (AIP) equipped submarine with a naval cruise missile, which has double the range of SCALP air to ground missile carried by Indian Air Force (IAF) Rafale fighters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on INS Vikrant aircraft carrier.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on INS Vikrant aircraft carrier.

Upgraded from the SCALP missile, the naval version has a range of over 1000 kilometers when launched from a submarine and goes up to 1400 kilometers when launched from a warship. The turbojet powered cruise missile is sub-sonic and remains sub-surface before taking to the skies while approaching the target and then annihilating the potential enemy threat on ground. The missile is being used by the French Navy on board its frigates since 2017 and onboard its Barracuda class submarines from 2022. The missile can also be used on Scorpene class submarines after slight technical modifications of the torpedo tubes.

While Indian Navy officials and diplomats have seen the performance of the Naval SCALP in France, it is understood that the missile manufacturer is willing to produce the cruise weapon in India under the “Make in India” route. The decision to build three more submarines at MDL has been taken as the entire process for Indian Navy’s Project 75 I will take a minimum of 15 years or more. The time delay can be estimated from the fact that the decision to make six Scorpene (Kalveri) class submarines was taken when Atal Bihari Vajapee was the Prime Minister and George Fernandes was the Defence Minister in 1999. The sixth of the submarines will be delivered to the Indian Navy in 2024, a quarter of a century after the 30 year submarine program was given approval by the Cabinet Committee on Security headed by PM Vajpayee.

Read more: France likely to have UPI system with India, first in Europe after Singapore

Given the rapid expansion of Chinese Navy which is expected to patrol Indian Ocean waters by 2025, the Indian Navy has no options but to counter the PLAN challenge in the Indo-Pacific as it cannot allow Beijing to dominate the sea lanes from Gulf of Aden to South China Sea with the help of India’s once upon a time arch rival Pakistan.

It is quite evident from the content of bilateral ties with France that PM Modi visit will take the strategic relationship on a top gear with President Emmanuel Macron and his companies only waiting for India to ask for the technology the country wants.

Politically what is quite interesting is that PM Modi has been offered a state visit by US and France on the eve of 2024 Lok Sabha general elections, while UPA Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was offered the same immediately after the Congress got 206 seats in 2009 Lok Sabha elections. That PM Modi has been feted by both President Joe Biden and will now be by President Macron, reveals the confidence they have on the Indian leader in 2024.

Fact is that both Biden and Macron have close personal relations with PM Modi, who likes to bat straight without compromising on India’s strategic autonomy be it on Ukraine war or expansionist China.

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