India formally cleared the decks for the long-pending Rs 50,000 crore (almost $7 billion) project to construct six new-generation stealth submarines with foreign collaboration, as part of the plan to counter China’s expanding naval footprint in the Indian Ocean.
The Rajnath Singh-led defence acquisitions council approved the tender or request for proposal to be issued to defence shipyard Mazagon Docks and private ship-builder L&T for the mega ‘Make in India’ conventional submarine-building programme called ‘Project-75 India’ (P-75I). The two will tie-up with one of the five shortlisted foreign shipyards, under the partnership model to submit techno-commercial bids in the race to bag this “mother of all underwater combat deals”.
It will take around a decade from now for the roll-out of the first of these six diesel-electric submarines with a capacity to carry a total of 18 land-attack cruise missiles. “The selection of the winning bid and the actual contract will take well over a year. Thereafter, the first submarine will be built in another seven years, with one following every subsequent year,” said an official.
The Indian Navy is currently grappling with a fast-depleting underwater combat arm at a time when Chinese warships and submarines are making regular forays to the Indian Ocean Region.