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Indian Defence Ministry issues RFI for second line of submarines


A file photo.

NEW DELHI (PTI): India Tuesday took the first step towards identifying a foreign shipyard to help it set up a second production line for six submarines at a cost of Rs 50,000 crore.

"The Defence Ministry has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for the second line of submarines called Project 75I Tuesday," a ministry official told PTI here.

The RFI is to identify a contemporary conventional submarine for construction. The Defence Acquisition Council chaired by Defence Minister A K Antony had given a nod for the project in July this year.

Under the approved plans, India would order two diesel-electric submarines from a collaborating foreign shipyard while the rest four would be built at two different Indian shipyards -- Mumbai-based Mazagon Docks and Visakhapatnam-based Hindustan Shipyard.

The Defence Ministry had acquired the Hindustan Shipyard from the Shipping Ministry only last year to augment its existing defence shipyards -- Mazagon Docks, Goa Shipyard and Kolkata-based Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers.

Some of the foreign submarine manufacturers, who are likely to respond by this month end to the RFI for Project 75I are Rosoboronexport (Russian), DCNS/Armaris (French), HDW (German) and Navantia (Spain).

But the selection of the foreign collaborator would take more time because, India would have to issue formal tenders (or request for proposal in defence parlance) to those manufacturers, who respond to the RFI.

Shortlisting and detailed technical and commercial negotiations would follow, before the actual contract would be signed.

Indian Navy has been pushing for the project to take a final shape as it has reasons to be worried over its depleting submarine fleet strength.

The number of its submarines is likely to be just the half of the current 15 vessels by 2015, as most of them are aging and would be decommissioned in the next five years.

India currently operates 10 Russian Kilo-class, four German HDW and one Foxtrot diesel-engine submarines in its fleet.

There is over two years delay in Project-75, as the six French-origin Scorpene submarines being built at Mazagon Docks are called, under which the vessels is expected to roll out one per year beginning 2012.

Project 75 has also been hit by cost overruns pushing the total budget for the six Scorpenes at over Rs 20,000 crore.

For Project 75I though, the navy was keen on a private domestic shipyard to tie-up with the foreign vendor since it was of the view that Mazagon Docks was already "busting at its seams" with orders and timely delivery of the second line of submarines was "critical" to maintain its operational readiness.

But the DAC decided otherwise, holding that the capabilities acquired by Mazagon Docks through the Scorpene project should not be wasted.

Tags:

Navy  Submarine  

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