Last chance to get technology: Negotiating next six submarines will take years, says Navy - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Tuesday 9 July 2019

Last chance to get technology: Negotiating next six submarines will take years, says Navy

Acknowledges project to build six Scorpenes (above) failed to bring adequate technology

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 10th July 19

One of the navy’s most vital purchases – the contract for six new-generation submarines under what is dubbed Project 75-I – will take another two-to-three years in tendering, revealed the navy’s warship acquisitions chief on Monday.

This is because the contract, worth an estimated Rs 50,000 crore, will be India’s last overseas submarine procurement and hence the last chance to obtain the technology for building the next 12 submarines, which the government insists must be fully indigenous.

“When interacting with the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) we have to be very clear that, after this technology transfer, we should be able to build our [future] submarines ourselves”, said Vice Admiral AK Saxena, Controller of Warships Production and Acquisition in New Delhi.

The 30-year submarine building plan of 1999 mandates building 12 submarines with foreign technology transfer, and the next 12 vessels indigenously.

Saxena is the first naval officer to acknowledge that insufficient technology has been transferred during the on-going Project 75, which involves building six single-hulled, Scorpene-class submarines with knowhow from French-Spanish shipbuilder Armaris (now Naval Group). 

“The depth of design transfer is not that high as we would have liked and that technology gap is what we are going to fill up with Project 75-I”, he said.

Saxena also acknowledged that India was better at building nuclear submarines than conventional ones. “Our design capability is currently more focused towards strategic platforms (nuclear submarines)”, he said. 

Consequently, negotiating the “scope, bandwidth and depth of technology transfer” with the Project 75-I OEMs will be vital, said Saxena. “We will have to ensure that our SPs, that is the Indian shipbuilders, are able to absorb whatever is being provided by the OEMs. It will all depend upon how forthcoming the OEMs are…” he said.

Project 75-I is being executed under strategic partner (SP) framework. This requires foreign OEMs to provide technology and manufacturing knowhow to an Indian SP shipyard, chosen from either the private or public sector.

Leading the fray for selection as SP are Mazagon Dock Ltd, Mumbai (MDL) and L&T’s Kathupalli Shipyard, near Chennai. The navy will also invite Reliance Naval (RNAVAL) to bid, given the capacity of its Pipavav Shipyard. However, RNAVAL’s financial situation might not meet the tender’s tough financial eligibility conditions, mandated in a March 20 amendment to the Defence Procurement Procedure of 2016. 

The navy had earlier taken a stance against RNAVAL, which is years late in delivering an order for naval offshore patrol vessels (NOPVs). However, Saxena said RNAVAL was finally making headway on delivering the first NOPV and that “By the end of the year, it will be clear whether RNAVAL will be able to deliver or not.”

Saxena expressed optimism that the OEM and SP would meet the challenging 50 per cent indigenous requirement of Project 75-I. However, he appeared to dilute the mandated terms, indicating it would be achieved only later in the project. 

“Achieving indigenous content of 50 per cent is the progressive value we are looking at. It will progressively rise from a certain value and reach or exceed 50 per cent”, he said.


  1. Diesel engines are more quiet than nuclear reactor.

    Hull building and other stealthy technologies were committed by HDW....BUT VP SINGH MUCKED IT UP

    1. But nuclear subs can dive deeper and have good range

  2. The OPV delivery date has been revised more than half a dozen times. However, the CWP&A is unabashedly optimistic about the FIRST OPV being delivered in Dec 2019. Ten years on, the last four years under Reliance, the yard is yet to complete the first vessel, yet the MoD has qualified RNEL for NGMVs RFP. Worse, they want to give RNEL the LPD contract and subsequently the P75(I) tender. Looks like the DPP-16 is buried at sea!!

  3. NSR says ---

    Better solution is to make L&T form a different division for conventional submarines and make them build everything from scratch...

    India learned cutting convention submarine shell cutting and boding on Scorpene and HDW-209...
    India almost has its own AIP too...
    If L&T can figure out mounting of diesel engines on rubber mounts for isolation of noise and vibration, then it will become as deadly as Kilo class Blackhole submarines...

    Instead of wasting time, pull your socks and strap your boots and try, try, try...
    Do not wish for someone to give you this technology...

  4. well done @NSR. That is the only way, try, try and try again.

    Alas what we saw was how easily our latest sub was detected by a 3rd rate PN, was shocking not just for us but the french too. Though they are keen to blame our build and operating abilities. We must create this capability.





  5. As suggested by me India should go for Government to Government deal with the Swedish SAAB Submarine maker A-26 Kochums under construction in Sweden as it is 89% German TYPE 212 submarine but with critical technologies of Combat Management System and Hydrophones and Heavy Weight Torpedo etc. to indian DRDO/Mazagaon Shipyard or maximum Larsen and Toubro but no to Anil Ambani Reliance Defence. The 2-under construction submarine will start add to Indian Navy in 1 year's time itself and for around 1900 Crore with technology transfer for 54 such submarines. The Government should go for 2300 ton submerged submarines and my told X-Rudder will be added later along with my told AIP exceeding SORYU CLASS LITHIUM ION BATTERIES PERFORMNACE at distant level with zero noise. The submarine at present is just 1.6% less than GERMAN TYPE 214 submarines compatible but technology transfer will be there. Moreover Special Steel as given by me will make it exceeding the capacity of Soryu 800 metre depth (some other quality decided not to mention). Similarly other additions like Paints and fibres as given by me will help near top.


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