The contract for manufacturing three additional scorpene submarines, that was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to France, will be signed by the end of 2024.
The Defence Acquisition Council had granted the 'acceptance of necessity' for the procurement of three additional Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarines, on 13 July.
The contract for these submarines is expected to be finalised by the end of next year, with the delivery of the first submarine anticipated in 2031.
Under the previous $3.5 billion deal signed in 2005, India had contracted six Scorpene-class submarines from the French-based Naval Group. These submarines were manufactured by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited under technology transfer.
The first submarine in the series, INS Kalvari, was commissioned in December 2017, followed by INS Khanderi in September 2019, INS Karanj in March 2021, INS Vela in November 2021, and INS Vagir in January 2023.
The sixth submarine, Vagsheer, is currently undergoing trial phases and is expected to be delivered to the Indian Navy in early 2024.
The Defence Ministry has said that the three additional submarines will incorporate higher indigenous content and will come equipped with the DRDO-developed air independent propulsion (AIP) system, thereby enhancing their endurance.
A defence official stated that if the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) provides a proven and functional AIP module as per the construction schedule, it will be incorporated into the submarines.
Furthermore, Naval Group is collaborating with DRDO to integrate the indigenous AIP module into the existing Scorpene submarines, currently in service, during their regular refits.
This process will commence with INS Kalvari towards the end of 2024 or early 2025, when INS Kalvari goes for its first refit.
Naval Group is actively assisting DRDO in qualifying an indigenous supplier for the liquid oxygen tank and preparing for the integration in the submarines, which entails cutting the submarine in half, safely integrating the AIP, and joining the submarine with the new AIP section.
Presently, the Indian Navy operates 16 conventional submarines, comprising seven Russian Kilo-class submarines, four German HDW submarines, and five Scorpene-class submarines.
However, the number is set to decrease in the next decade as the older submarines starts retiring. As an interim measure, four Kilo-class submarines and three German HDWs are undergoing life extension through the medium-refit life certification process.
With the anticipated delivery of the new submarines by 2031, the Indian Navy is poised to further enhance its maritime capabilities.
Editorial Associate at Swarajya. Writes on Indian Military and Defence.
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