New Delhi: In a mega make-in-India deal, the Defence Acquisition Council headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh on Friday approved the domestic production of six new-generation stealth submarines in collaboration with foreign players under Project P75(I) estimated at Rs 43,000 crores. The project was first initiated in 2007 and it will take nearly a decade before the first submarine is delivered.
The submarine deal was given the go-ahead amid reports that country’s sole nuclear-powered attack submarine INS Chakra is on its way back to Russia as the agreement for its lease is coming to an end. The Navy will thus be without a nuclear-powered attack submarine for many years till another advanced version of the submarine, Chakra III, comes from Russia on a 10-year lease for which a $3 billion deal was signed in 2019. The INS Chakra is reported to be giving trouble as it was getting old and its lease, which was ending in January, was not sought to be extended.
Nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) are the equivalent of the most dangerous underwater sharks which hunt submarines and ships and are equipped with torpedoes, anti-ship cruise missiles and land-attack cruise missiles.
The DAC on Friday approved the issue of a request for proposal (RFP) for the construction of six conventional submarines for Project P75(I) under the strategic partnership model. The RFP will be issued to defence shipyard Mazagon Docks and private sector giant Larsen and Toubro, who were selected as Indian strategic partners to bid for the submarine project by the DAC last year in January.
Mazagon Docks and L&T will now collaborate with any of the five foreign companies to submit their bids. These foreign companies are Russian Rosoboronexport, French Naval Group, South Korean Daewo, German Thysenkrupp Marine Systems and Spanish Navantia.
Last year the DAC had approved these five foreign companies as the potential Original Equipment Manufacturers that could collaborate on the project.
“This is a landmark approval, being the first case processed under the Strategic Partnership model. This would be one of the largest ‘Make in India’ projects and will serve to facilitate faster and more significant absorption of technology and create a tiered industrial ecosystem for submarine construction in India,” the defence ministry said on Friday.
China is now investing heavily in its Navy and has the fastest growing naval assets in the world.
The DAC also accorded approval of procurement of air defence guns and ammunition for the Indian Army at an approximate cost of Rs 6,000 crores under the Buy and Make (Indian) category. The DAC extended the timelines for progressing urgent capital acquisitions under the delegated powers of the armed forces up to August 31, 2021. This will enable the armed forces to complete their immediate and critical acquisitions.