Defence

Explainer: Turkey turning ‘supplier’ for navies of India, Pakistan?

By The Week

On Tuesday, the Hindustan Times reported Hindustan Shipyard Limited, the Visakhapatnam-based shipbuilder, was expecting a major Indian Navy contract by this year-end.

The contract involves the construction of five ‘fleet support ships’, which have the vital role of resupplying warships at sea with spare parts, fuel, food, weapons and other equipment. In June 2019, Hindustan Shipyard had selected TAIS, a consortium of Turkish shipbuilding companies, as its partner for the fleet support ship project. The Turkish consortium was selected over offers from Russian and German companies.

According to the original agreement, TAIS would provide Hindustan Shipyard assistance in design and supply of machinery to build the five ships. The total value of the contract to Hindustan Shipyard would be about $2.3 billion, with the builder estimated to take about eight years to complete all five vessels.

The project to build the fleet support ships with Turkish assistance was delayed and faced uncertainty, in part due to Turkey’s vocal support for Pakistan’s stance on Jammu and Kashmir. On Monday, Hindustan Times quoted a source as saying, “The agreement with the Turkish consortium will kick in after HSL gets an order from the Indian Navy. If all goes well, that could happen by October 2021. Several Indian vendors will also be involved in the project.” The Hindustan Times also reported “… the Turkish side has decided to go ahead with transfer of technology from the initial stages and back the ‘Make in India’ initiative…”

While less glamorous and menacing in appearance than sleek destroyers and mammoth aircraft carriers, the fleet support ships will be a key element in enabling the Indian Navy to stay at sea.

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