Terms of Indian Navy’s mega submarine deal unrealistic: Russian official

₹40,000 crore project, out of which Russia pulled out, can’t move forward without changes, says senior official

Updated - August 16, 2022 10:00 am IST

Published - August 15, 2022 07:39 pm IST - MOSCOW

Andrey Baranov, Deputy Director General on Foreign Economic Affairs at the Russian Rubin Central Design Bureau. File

Andrey Baranov, Deputy Director General on Foreign Economic Affairs at the Russian Rubin Central Design Bureau. File | Photo Credit: K.K. MUSTAFAH

Russia, which has pulled out of the Indian Navy’s tender for the construction of six advanced submarines under Project-75I, has informed India that it cannot meet the terms and conditions for the over ₹40,000 crore project. Terming it unrealistic, a senior Russian official said on Monday that without any changes in the entire process, the process cannot move forward.

“The requirement stated in the Request For Proposal (RFP) demanded very strict timelines and a lot of responsibility to the designer. At the same time, designer has no control over the construction, which happens in India,” said Andrey Baranov, Deputy Director General, Rubin Design Bureau, speaking at the inaugural day of the Army-2022 expo. “We are the first ones to leave the project and the last one we know to leave the project is France,” he said.

Stating that the project is very good as far as design is concerned, Mr. Baranov said where the implementation in India is concerned, “it is not so good and so there is nothing happening”. “So, without any changes in the entire process, nothing will happen,” he said.

As reported by The Hindu earlier, the Defence Ministry has once again extended the deadline to submit responses from June 30 by another six months till December end, and the Navy has also approached the Ministry for relaxation of certain specifications that have made most submarine manufacturers non-compliant. The deal is the first under the Strategic Partnership model of the procurement procedure to make progress.

Also Read | Bid date for mega submarine building project extended again, to Dec end

Their major concern is the requirements specified by the Indian Navy and the arrangement for this are not matching, Mr. Baranov said. Elaborating, he said Indian Navy would like the transfer of technology, have state of the art submarine with powerful missiles, stealth and so on but none of the world Navies have prototype of similar submarine. So we are talking of development of an absolutely new submarine, he said.

Mr. Baranov noted that the key part of the RFP is that construction will be done in India and if the timelines are not met, the “penalties are very high”.

“We have been saying from the beginning that building the first submarine of the class is not possible within this timeline,” he stated, and added, “We understand that when the first ship of the class is constructed there will be lot of problems which is natural for the process of development.”

In January 2020, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had shortlisted Mazgaon Docks Limited (MDL) and Larsen & Toubro Limited (L&T) as the Indian partners for the P-75I deal. The five foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEM) include Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (South Korea), Naval Group (France), Navantia (Spain), Rosoboronexport (Russia), and TKMS (Germany).

The RFP was issued in July 2021 to MDL and L&T, with 12 weeks time to respond. The Indian companies are free to tie up with any of the five OEMs that were shortlisted earlier.

However, the project ran into rough weather, among other things, over one of the specifications mentioned, that the submarine on offer should have an operational Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) module. Only Germany and South Korea technically meet this criteria, official sources said.

In addition, most of the OEMs expressed concerns over the timelines, extent of technology transfer, and third party guarantees.

Project-75(I) envisages indigenous construction of six modern conventional submarines with contemporary equipment, weapons and sensors, including Fuel-Cell based Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system, advanced torpedoes, modern missiles, and state-of-the-art countermeasure systems.

The Navy currently has 15 conventional and one nuclear submarine in service. It includes seven Russian Kilo class submarines, four German HDW submarines, four French Scorpene submarines, and the indigenous nuclear ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant. The last two of the Scorpene class submarines are in various stages of trials and outfitting.

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