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02:22 PM, September 3, 2014
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Russia Offers to Upgrade India's Kilo Class Submarines

Russia has offered to upgrade India’s Kilo class submarines soon after the Indian MoD cleared a midlife upgrade proposal for the Russian origin subs.

The Defense Acquisition Council headed by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley recently cleared a whole host of proposals including a midlife upgrade of six submarines worth $2.8 billion earlier this week.

Many of India’s 9 diesel-electric submarines are in serious need of repair while others have suffered devastating accidents. The Navy’s submarine fleet has experienced three mishaps in the last year. Earlier in 2013, the newly upgraded kilo-class submarine, the INS Sindhurakshak, reportedly fully-armed at the time, was destroyed in a fire.

In January 2014, the INS Sindhughosh nearly ran aground while entering the Mumbai harbour during a low-tide phase.

Since the DAC’s announcement Russia has expressed willingness to help repair all of India’s Project 877 EKM (NATO reporting name Kilo) diesel-electric submarines. Andrey Baranov, Deputy Director of foreign trade and military-technical cooperation of the Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering told Itar-Tass that Russia is ready to provide India with a program that shows the exact repair time for specific vessels.

After the Sindhurakshak fire India planned to import two submarines under the Project 75 (I) indigenous submarine building project to build six vessels, an RFP for which is expected in the next two-three months.

An earlier plan to build all six in India with technical help from a foreign collaborator may be modified in the wake of the fire disaster aboard the INS Sindhurakshak last week which gutted the submarine killing and injuring several crew members.

Russia’s Rosoboronexport, France’s DCNS, Germany’s HDW could be among the contenders to supply the two submarines and help build the remaining four.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley recently visited the Mumbai-based Mazgaon Docks Ltd late August to review the status of the Scorpene Submarine and other ongoing warship building projects, including the P-15B Class stealth destroyers.

India had initiated a project to build six Scorpene submarines designated project 75 at Mazgaon Docks with help from DCNS France. The project has been delayed by a number of years and the target date for the first of six submarines has been pushed to late 2016.

“We have set a new target for September 2016 for delivery of the first Scorpene,” confirmed Rear Admiral (retd.) Rahul Kumar Shrawat, Chairman and Managing Director of Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) told The Hindu in Kozhikode recently.

India currently has 14 diesel-electric submarines in its fleet -- 10 Russian-origin Kilo class vessels and four HDW German-origin vessels not counting the one nuclear-powered vessel borrowed from Russia on a 10-year lease.

The long pending requirement for a new line of six submarines designated Project 75-I, was given clearance in 2013, but the RFP for this is yet to go out. The delays will decrease the Navy’s submarine fleet strength by 30 per cent from its existing strength by 2015 and by 50 per cent by 2020, at this rate of induction of new vessels.

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