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Four foreign firms in contention for Navy's submarine project P-75(I)

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Four foreign shipbuilders have emerged as the main contenders for the Government's ambitious project to build six advanced stealth submarines for Indian Navy at a cost of around Rs 60,000 crore under the strategic partnership model.

Official sources said French firm Naval Group, Russia's Rosoboronexport Rubin Design Bureau, Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and Sweden's Saab group have responded to the Government's request for information (RFI) for the project.

Spain's Navantia and Japan's Mitsubishi-Kawasaki Heavy Industries, who were known to be among the leading contenders for the project, did not respond to the RFI, the sources said.

There was indication that Japan was keen on a government-to-government deal for the project.

The deadline for responding to the RFI for the programme christened as Project 75 (I) was October 16.

It is set to be the first defence acquisition project to be launched under the ambitious 'Strategic Partnership' model which aims to rope in private firms to build military platforms like submarines and fighter jets in India in partnership with foreign entities.

The Government is expected to soon launch the process to select the Indian shipyard for joint manufacture of the submarines with the chosen foreign entity.

The project is being considered critical to counter the rapid expansion of China's submarine fleet. Indian Navy has been pressing the Government for clearing the project.

Engineering conglomerate Larsen and Toubro and Reliance Defence are the only private firms eligible to participate in the P-75 (I) programme, said another source. Defence PSU Mazagon Dock Ltd is also in contention for the project, touted as one of the biggest in recent years.

Six Scorpene-class submarines are currently being built under 'Project 75' of the Indian Navy. The submarines, designed by French firm Naval Group (earlier known as DCNS) are being built by Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai.

The project P-75 (I) will be a follow-on for Project 75.

A total of six submarines are to be built under the Project-75 (I) programme.

Under the SP model, select private firms will be engaged to build military platforms like submarines and fighter jets in India in partnership with foreign entities.

A 49 per cent FDI cap has been kept for setting up ventures under the strategic partnership model for production of defence platforms and the companies will be in control of Indian entities.

As per the framework, to manufacture major defence platforms, the select Indian companies will require tie-ups with Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for transfer of technology (ToT).

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