4 foreign firms in fray for submarine project

Six Scorpene-class submarines are currently being built under ‘Project 75’ of the Indian Navy.

NEW DELHI: Four foreign ship-builders have emerged as main contenders for the government’s ambitious project to build six advanced stealth submarines at a cost of around Rs 60,000 crore under the strategic partnership model.

Official sources said French firm Naval Group, Russia’s Rosoboronexport Rubin Design Bureau, Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and Sweden’s Saab group have responded to the government’s request for proposal (RFI) for the project.

Spain’s Navantia and Japan’s Mitsubishi-Kawasaki Heavy Industries, who were known to be among the leading contenders for the project, did not respond to the RFI, the sources said.

There was indication that Japan was keen on a government-to-government deal for the project.

It is set to be the first defense acquisition project to be launched under the ambitious ‘Strategic Partnership’ model which aims to rope in private firms to build military platforms like submarines and fighter jets in India in partnership with foreign entities.

The government is expected to soon launch the process to select the Indian shipyard for joint manufacture of the submarines with the chosen foreign entity.

The project is being considered critical to counter the rapid expansion of China’s submarine fleet. The Navy has been pressing the government for clearing the project.

Engineering conglomerate Larsen and Toubro and Reliance Defense are the only private firms eligible to participate in the P-75 I program, said another source. Defense PSU Mazagon Dock Ltd is also in contention for the project, touted as one of the biggest in recent years.

Six Scorpene-class submarines are currently being built under ‘Project 75’ of the Indian Navy. The submarines, designed by French firm Naval Group (earlier known as DCNS) are being built by Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai.-PTI