Source – Financial express
The sixth submarine of Project 75, Yard 11880, Indian Navy’s Kalvari class commenced her sea trials on May 18. The submarine was launched in 2022 from the Kanhoji Angre Wet Basin of Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL).
While the ‘Vaghsheer’ is scheduled for delivery to the Indian Navy in early 2024 after the completion of these trials, the question is being raised—what is next as the contract for six- diesel submarines come to an end?
The docks will remain idle and the workforce underutilized as the strategic projects conclude at MDL. The issues become critical as the next project in line for building next-generation submarines is still moving through the stages of a highly complex submarine tendering process under the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Four submarines of the project– INS Kalvari, INS Khanderi, INS Karanj, INS Vela and INS Vagir– have been commissioned into the Indian navy. Indian navy’s fifth stealth Scorpene class Submarine INS Vagir was commissioned into the Indian Navy in Jan 2023 at the Naval Dockyard Mumbai.
Project 75 was initiated in 2006 to build six diesel-electric attack submarines of the Kalvari class that is based on the Scorpène-class submarine, which is being built at MDL.
Project 75 was launched to locally construct the submarine via a transfer of technology(ToT). Through such ToT, India was aiming to acquire and absorb significant absorption of technology and create a tiered industrial ecosystem for submarine construction in India.
Looking back then, India was threatened as Pakistan had acquired Harpoon underwater missile capability, and India needed to fill that critical void which came through the Scorpene submarine. The choice of Scorpene was because of the Exocet, a missile manufacturer, which later merged into French defence entity MBDA, provided Indian navy with the underwater missile capability
However MDL will have to enter into a new contract with the French entity, Naval Group for another set of Scorpène-class submarines as the existing contract nearly concludes.
While MDL has been willing to continue with the Scorpène-class submarine which is rechristened as Kalvari-class by the Indian navy, the new contractual obligations pose another challenge
” That needs to be negotiated as a new contract,” points out a leading industry expert who wished to remain anonymous.
In fact, for the new contract, the price quoted by the naval group is much higher than the previously-negotiated scorpene deal, it is learnt.
Apart from the higher-priced scorpene, the technology remains the same with the option of Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems in the next phase.