Tuesday, 4 December 2012

After Rafale jet, India eyes French submarine

After clinching Rs 99,000-crore deal to equip the Indian Air Force with Dassault Aviation’s Rafale fighters, the government is now eying to acquire next generation submarines manufactured by France.

According to a report by the Hindustan Times, the government is willing to spend more than $10 billion ( Rs 55,000 crore) to strengthen Indian Navy’s undersea combat capabilities.

Confirming the development Navy chief Admiral DK Joshi said the Defence Ministry’s acquisition council had given the go-ahead for buying six submarines under a project codenamed P-75I.

Joshi also stated that a global tender in this regard would be floated very soon.

Joshi said the new subs – bigger than the Scorpene – would be equipped with air-independent propulsion systems to recharge their batteries without having to surface for more than three weeks. “The submarines would also be equipped with land attack missile capability,” Defence Minister AK Antony informed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

Currently, six Scorpene-class submarines are being built at the Mazagon Dock Ltd with technology from DCNS under a $4.3-billion ( Rs. 23,562 crore) project called P-75

The Indian Navy’s existing submarine fleet is rather humble, consisting of just 10 Russian Kilo-class, four German HDWs and an Akula-2 nuclear-powered attack submarine leased from Russia at $1 billion ( Rs. 5,500 crore).

After the go ahead, major shipbuilders including DCNS of France, HDW of Germany, Rosoboronexport of Russia and Navantia of Spain are expected to bid for the mega deal to build a second line of submarines for India.

Clearly, government’s move to acquire next generation submarines is aimed at countering the threat emerging from China, which has more than 50 conventional submarines in its fleet, but nearly two-thirds of those are outdated.

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