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India seeks proposals for build of six P-75I submarines

P-75I Indian Navy AIP indigenous submarine project start
Illustration: Indian Navy file photo of the lead Kalvari-class submarine

The Indian defense ministry has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the construction of new Project 75(India) (P-75I) submarines for the Indian Navy.

In line with the country’s “make in India” drive, the non-nuclear air-independent propulsion (AIP) submarines are to be developed and built locally.

As revealed by the defense ministry, the RFP was issued to shortlisted strategic partners Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and Larsen & Tubro (L&T).

It should be noted that MDL is already involved in the construction of six Indian Navy Kalvari-class submarines under a transfer of technology agreement with French shipbuilder Naval Group and has most recently launched the fifth of six units.

Another important thing to note is that MDL and L&T would be working with foreign companies that have been shortlisted by the MoD to deliver products and know-how for the project under transfer of technology agreements. The shortlisted foreign companies include French Naval Group, German TKMS, Russian JSC Rosoboronexport, South Korean Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering and Spanish Navantia. These five foreign firms would enable setting up of dedicated manufacturing lines for these submarines in India by providing ToT for submarine design and other technologies and make India the global hub for submarine design and production, the MoD said.

The project cost for P-75I is over Rs 40,000 crore (approx. $5.4 billion), which would cover submarine construction as well as associated shore support, engineering support, training and spares package.

The Indian MoD said it expects the submarines to feature advanced torpedoes, modern missiles and countermeasure systems, adding that the project would provide a major boost to the indigenous design and construction capability of submarines in India, in addition to bringing in the latest submarine design and technologies as part of the project.

In an achievement that has preceded the launch of the RfP, India made a breakthrough in the field of air-independent propulsion (AIP) technology, with country’s research and development organization (DRDO) completing a test of an AIP system on a land-based prototype earlier this year.

Air-independent propulsion in diesel-electric submarines allows them to stay submerged for longer periods of time as they do not need to surface as often for air. This enhances their stealth characteristics. DRDO says the tests showed that the indigenously developed AIP was ready for installation aboard ships.