12:00 AM, December 7, 2012
The Indian Navy will soon issue a global RFP for three new stealth submarines called Project 75 (I) (for India) after the Defense Acquisition Council gave its approval recently. This is a follow on acquisition to six Project Submarines under construction in India with technical help from DCNS, France called Project 75 submarines. According to Secretary of Defence for Production, Indian MoD, Shekhar Agarwal, two Project 75 (I) submarines will be built abroad by the foreign vendor that wins the contract with the follow-on four vessels to be constructed in India, by the Mazagon Dock Limited, Mumbai (MDL) and Hindustan Shipyard Ltd, Visakhapatnam (HSL). The acquisition is worth $15 billion and is expected to be complete by 2020. Those expected to be in the running for this project include HDW of Germany, Rosoboronexport of Russia, France’s DCNS and Navantia of Spain. DCNS, given its involvement in the Project 75 submarines, could enjoy a natural advantage in the evaluation. However, informed sources said that the selection will be on the basis of the terms of the RFP and the company which meets the technical and financial parameters would emerge the winner. Given that all the four major submarine manufacturers might participate, selecting the eventual winner might take some time. Germany-based HDW which has had a tough time in India with bribery charges in the 1980s might have an uphill task to convince the Indian establishment of its competence. Of late HDW has had a tough time globally with its submarine sales to Greece and South Korea facing product issues. According to reports, the Greek Navy purchased 4 HDW 214 submarines, but refused to take delivery of the first one for many years due to design and other problems which emerged during sea trials. Similar technical issues have dogged HDW’s sale to the Korean Navy after an explosion on board the submarine which has been grounded for nearly two years now. Yet, given India’s procurement policy of not putting all its eggs in one basket, the MoD might give a fair evaluation to the products of all other manufacturers. Of particular interest is Rosoboronexport, a traditional partner of India when it comes to naval ships and submarines. The Russians are helping India develop its first nuclear powered submarine and one such vessel is on lease. “Russia is keen to get back into the good books of the Indian MoD, particularly after delays in the aircraft carrier project have caused concern in New Delhi”, a source said adding that it may offer very good terms to bag the Project 75 (I) project. "DAC (Defence Acquisition Council) has accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AON) for construction of six submarines under Project-75(I). These submarines are intended to be equipped with land attack missile capability as well as Air Independent Propulsion (AIP)," Defense Minister AK Antony told Parliament recently.