India is now finally getting set to issue the formal tender for the long-pending over Rs 42,000 crore project to make six new-generation stealth submarines domestically with foreign collaboration.
India’s Project-75(I) most important and strategically significant naval programs being undertaken by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for construction of six conventional submarines for the Indian Navy for Rs 45,000 crore is likely to face further delays as tight defense budget and Chinese virus pandemic situation in the country and halted economic activity leaves little room for India to carry out major defense acquisition programs.
Project-75(I) was supposed to be the last time India built-in India, next-generation conventional submarines through technology transfer from foreign partners before India moves to local design and production of next-generation 12 submarines in near future. The current situation does provide the Indian Navy and Private sector shipyards and defense firms an opportunity to fast track what was was initially planned in the development of local submarine technology.
Super Kalvari+ class
While Process to initiate Project 75I tender was started in 2014, Navy is yet to select an Indian shipyard nor any foreign original equipment manufacturer has been selected for the program to move forward. Due to delays in implementing Strategic partnership (SP) model and due to long cumbersome procurement procedure adopted to execute the project, many in Indian Navy fear that Project 75I too will face delays of 4-6 years like its predecessor Project-75 program derailing India’s 30-Year Submarine Building Plan for induction of 24 submarines in a phased manner completely.
With China making rapid increase in its footprint in Indian ocean , Recent reports hint that Navy and Government of India are considering a proposal floated by defence PSU to use Kalvari class submarine as a template to develop a new class of submarine which will replace imported content in the submarine with local alternatives sourced from Nuclear Arihant class project.
Kalvari+ will feature DRDO developed Air-independent propulsion (AIP) system and will also incorporate Vertical launch system (VLS) to launch Submarine launched Cruise missiles (SLCM) like BrahMos and Nirbhay.