Navy set to issue tender for new submarines
The Indian Navy is set to “very soon” issue a RfP (request for proposal or tender) for a new line of six submarines with AIP (air independent propulsion) capability.
The requirement has been pending for quite a few years but the proposal for the new line, designated Project 75-I, has now being given firm clearance by the government, according to Indian Navy chief, Admiral DK Joshi.
Asked how soon is “very soon,” the naval chief told India Strategic defence magazine (www.indiastrategic.in) that the defence acquisition committee (DAC) had already cleared a note on acceptance of necessity (AON), the navy had finalized the RfP and it was in its last stage of formalities for clearance in the defence ministry.
As per procedures, depending on the money involved, AON has to be cleared by a competent authority. If the requirement involves more than Rs 1,000 crores ($200 million ), then it is by the DAC, headed by the defence minister. The approval was accorded just before the Navy Day on December 4, 2012.
AIP increases the mission life of a submarine by around three times, depending upon the task and parameters required. The capability enables a submarine to generate air onboard without the need to surface for breathing to recharge its batteries.
At present, none of the Indian submarines have this capability, and some of them can only be under water for only three to five days. The existing fleet of 14 diesel-electric submarines is rather weak despite the periodic upgrades, although some newer EW (electronic warfare) systems have been installed.
Submarines are about staying underwater as long as possible, and that is why nuclear power is used to keep them submerged for around three months, or to the limits of human endurance.
The new Project 75-I submarines should be huge in value, estimated at around $10 billion-plus, depending upon the offsets and transfer of technology (ToT).
At present, six new Scorpenes under Project 75 are being built for more than 5% billion (Rs 23,562 crore) by the state-run Mazagon Dock Ltd. (MDL) under licence from the French DCNS company.
MDL is also hoping to get the new Project 75-I line but it has substantial work in hand for years â€” 14 ships in addition to the six Scorpenes. The experience gained in building the Scorpenes though should be extremely useful and must not get wasted.
AIP is also being considered for the last two of the existing line of Scorpenes by installing plugs â€” about eight meters in length and the same diameter as that of the submarine. Admiral Joshi said that the (Defence Research and Development Organisation) DRDO was working on building these plugs, but that if this entailed delay, “we will not wait”.
The Scorpene project is already late by three years, with the first submarine scheduled to be out in June 2015 â€” instead of 2012 â€” and the last in September 2018.Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit | buzz
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