NEW DELHI: India has kick-started its "mother of all underwater defence deals" after a 10-year delay, with France, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Spain and Japan being in the fray to build six advanced stealth submarines for an estimated $10.9 billion with an Indian shipyard.
The conventional submarine programme called Project-75 is likely to be the first mega project under the new "strategic partnership" policy finalised by India's defence ministry in May. However, the six shipbuilders, Naval Group-DCNS (France), ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (Germany), Rosoboronexport Rubin Design Bureau (Russia), Navantia (Spain), Saab (Sweden) and the Mitsubishi-Kawasaki Heavy Industries combine (Japan), have to first respond to the RFI (request for information) issued to them by September 15.
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The Indian Navy will later formulate the NSQRs (naval staff qualitative requirements) before the formal RFP is issued for submitting technical and commercial bids for evaluation. The Indian shipyard for the strategic partnership with the selected foreign collaborator will be chosen in a parallel process.
"It may take around two years for the original equipment manufacturer (OEM)-Indian shipyard combine to be down-selected. Moreover, the first new submarine will roll out only seven to eight years after the final contract is inked. But the aim is to fast-track the entire process," said an Indian defence ministry official.
The Indian Navy wants the six new diesel-electric submarines to have land-attack cruise missiles, air-independent propulsion for greater underwater endurance and the capability to integrate indigenous weapons and sensors as and when they are developed.
"The stress will be on the transfer of technology from the OEM and indigenisation. The submarines, to be built with indigenous steel, should also be less maintenance-intensive to ensure a better operational cycle with minimal downtime," added the official.
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The report futher said it was earlier reported that as per the approved plans, the Indian Navy should have 18 diesel-electric submarines, six nuclear-powered attack submarines (called SSNs) and four nuclear-powered submarines with long-range nuclear-tipped missiles (SSBNs) for effective deterrence against China and Pakistan.
This article originally appeared on the Times of India.