The contract for three additional Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarines is expected to be concluded by end-2024 and first submarine delivered likely in 2031 as the procurement process is set to begin shortly following the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the procurement from the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on July 13.
“The contract is expected to be concluded by end next year and delivery of the first submarine is expected by 2031. If a proven, functional Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) module is provided by the Defence Research and Development Organisation [DRDO] as per the construction schedule, it will be fitted on the submarines,” a defence official said.
Naval Group and the Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL), Mumbai signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation on three additional Scorpenes on July 6.
India had contracted six Scorpene-class submarines from Naval Group under a $3.75 bn deal signed in October 2005 under which they were manufactured by the MDL under technology transfer. The first submarine in the series, INS Kalvari, was commissioned in December 2017, second submarine INS Khanderi in September 2019, third one INS Karanj in March 2021, fourth one INS Vela in November 2021 and the fifth one, INS Vagir, in January 2023. The 6th submarine, Vagsheer, is undergoing trial phases and is expected to be delivered to the Navy in early 2024.
As reported by The Hindu recently, Naval Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Pierre Éric Pommellet said the details of technical features and other parameters, including delivery lead time, would be complied with the MDL as per the requirements of the Indian Navy.
Higher indigenous content
A Defence Ministry statement said the three additional submarines would have higher indigenous content and would also come fitted with the DRDO-developed AIP system to enhance their endurance. Confirming this, Mr. Pommellet had said that the indigenous content would be higher as several efforts were in place in areas of DRDO AIP, combat system among others.
Separately, Naval Group is working with the DRDO to integrate the indigenous AIP module on the existing Scorpene submarines in service as they go for normal refit, beginning with INS Kalvari end-2024 or early-2025. Towards this, Naval Group is currently supporting the DRDO in qualifying indigenous supplier of liquid oxygen tank and preparation of the future stage of jumboisation which involves making the new hull, integrate the AIP safely, cut the submarine and join it with the new AIP section.
The Navy currently has 16 conventional submarines in service, which include seven Russian Kilo-class submarines, four German HDW submarines and five Scorpene-class submarines. This is set to deplete further in the next decade due to belated new inductions and in the interim four Kilo-class submarines and three German HDWs are being given life extension through the Medium Refit Life Certification (MRLC) process.