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Another boost for “Make in India” as Centre issues formal tender for six submarines

With an ambitious project costing over ₹40,000 crores, the Indian Government on Tuesday announced a formal tender for indigenous construction of six conventional submarines. The submarines are expected to be fitted with a modern fuel-cell based Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) plant, advanced torpedoes, missile systems as well as advanced countermeasures system.

The tender, which was issued to Mazagaon Docks Shipbuilders Limited (MDSL) and Larsen & Toubro (L&T), who are to collaborate with a foreign Shipyard to fulfil the tender. The shortlisted shipyards are as follows: Daewoo Shipbuilding (South Korea), ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (Germany), Navantia (Spain), Naval Group (France) and JSC ROE (Russia).

It is expected that the submarines would be of the Project 75I class. Under this project, the Indian Navy intends to acquire six diesel-electric submarines, which will also feature advanced air-independent propulsion systems to enable them to stay submerged for longer duration and substantially increase their operational range.

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What is the Project 75I class? 

The Project 75I class of submarine is an extension to the previously issued Project 75 (Kalvari class) of submarines. The plan to procure submarines under this project was first approved in 1997, under which 24 such examples would be built with foreign assistance. The plan, however, was revised post the 1999 Kargil conflict, when the Cabinet Committee on Security approved a “30-year construction plan” for the project. The aim was changed to production using two separate lines, each producing 6 submarines. The older plan was brought under this new plan, and two types of submarines were to be built: Project 75, and the Project 75I, using Transfer of Technology (ToT) from foreign manufacturers. 

Project 75 class submarine:

Project 75 submarines, also known as Kalvari class of submarines (2015), refer to the first 6 submarines based on the French Scorpène class submarines. The class is designed by French company DCNS and is manufactured by Mazagaon Docks and Shipbuilders Limited. This attack submarine is powered by 4x MTU 12v 396 SE84 diesel engines on the surface and is sustained by 360 battery cells when submerged. Being 75m long and a height of 12.3m, it can dive upto 350m. The Kalvari class has a complement of 8 officers and 35 sailors. With an endurance of 50 days, it can sail 6,500 nautical miles when surfaced and 550 nautical miles when submerged (this range increases drastically using AIP system). This type can carry a combination between 18x 533mm SUT torpedoes, SM.39 Exocet anti-ship missiles or in place of torpedoes, 30 sea mines or a complement of both. 

Of the 6 submarines, 5 have been constructed and 3 are serving with the Indian Navy. Two boats are undergoing sea trials and are expected to join service by 2022 while the last boat hasn’t been launched yet. The latter is expected to finish sea trials and be commissioned by 2023.

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