Korean shipbuilder touts advanced batteries for submarines on offer to India

By The Week

Two weeks ago, the ministry of defence approved issuance of request for proposals (RFP) to build six new conventionally powered submarines for the Indian Navy.

The Project 75 India (75I) tender, with an estimated value of around Rs 43,000 crore, envisages the construction of submarines that are larger than any of the existing class of diesel-electric submarines in the Indian Navy. The Project 75I submarines are required by the Indian Navy to have ‘air-independent propulsion’ (AIP), which is the capability to operate and recharge their batteries without use of atmospheric oxygen.

Diesel-electric submarines typically run their diesel engines on the surface in order to recharge their batteries that are used for operations underwater. In addition, the Project 75I class submarines should also have the capability to launch land-attack cruise missiles.

The ministry of defence has earmarked state-run Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and L&T as the shipyards that will build the chosen submarine design. Companies from Germany, Spain, Russia, France and South Korea have been shortlisted to bid in the contract.

Little over a decade ago, South Korea was barely known as an exporter of submarines. In 2011, South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co.,Ltd. (DSME) won a contract valued at $1.1 billion to supply three upgraded ‘Type 209’ submarines to Indonesia. The Type 209 was a German-designed submarine exported widely; its users include the Indian Navy.

Since the Indonesian contract, DSME has continued to pursue more submarine export contracts, while building the advanced Dosan Ahn Changho class of indigenously designed submarines for the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy.

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