Friday, January 21, 2011

Indian Navy Denies Seeking Three More Scorpene submarines

The Indian navy has denied it is looking at a follow-on order for three additional Scorpene submarines, despite a statement from an industry official to the contrary.

India ordered six Scorpene diesel-electric attack submarines under the Indian navy’s project dubbed P75. The subs are being assembled by a joint venture between French shipbuilder DCNS and the Mumbai shipyard Mazagon Dock Ltd. (MDL).

Patrick Boissier, chairman and CEO of DCNS, who was a part of the delegation accompanying French President Nicolas Sarkozy on his recent visit to India, had said discussions were on with the ministry of defense and Indian navy for a possible future order for subs equipped with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems. A Request for Proposal is expected in 2011.

A purchase order for an additional three optional Scorpenes (without the AIP) could be issued without too many hurdles as the pricing has already been agreed to, a defense official says.

Initial roadblocks have delayed the project with the first submarine now to be delivered in 2013, Boissier says. The project has been delayed and costs have escalated as a result of MDL’s learning process.

“This is one of the biggest transfer of technology [TOT] programs because it is the first time ever that the TOT starts from the first ship, which is generally built in the OEM premise,” Boissier says. “MDL now has the necessary technology for submarine production. [The submarine] is a very sophisticated product dealing with acoustic discretion, reliability and safety of the crew.

“The modular nature of its design makes it as easy to tailor the submarine to customers’ requirements as [it is] to include the latest technological innovations to maintain its operational superiority,” he adds.

MDL has completed the first and second Scorpene’s position of the hull while combat systems also have been delivered for the first sub, while the frame of the third fourth and fifth submarines are in progress.

There is skepticism on whether MDL will be able to handle a project of such immensity. It is likely that the Hindustan Shipyard Ltd. too might be involved to ensure the submarines are delivered on time.

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