$6 billion Ministry of Defence project to develop APIs for new submarines throws open scope for manufacturers.
Last month, the US Navy carried out a high-tempo exercise in the Indian Ocean involving the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group – along with the full participation of the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force.
The drills came at the start of the 27th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series with CARAT Sri Lanka, which included USS Charleston (LCS-18) and the first official participation of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer JS Yugiri (DD-153).
Last week, both the navies carried that momentum forward by celebrating a historic milestone – when two MH-60R Seahawk helicopters were inducted into the Indian Naval Fleet during a ceremony at Naval Air Station North Island. The ceremony is part of an ongoing initiative that also includes comprehensive training for Indian aircrew and maintainers on operating and sustaining the MH-60R. This bilateral initiative serves to strengthen the Indo-US friendship and enhance combined anti-submarine and undersea domain capability.
“The induction of these all-weather multi-role helicopters is an important milestone in our bilateral defense ties,” said Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Indian Ambassador to the United States.
Such close collaborations with its strategic defence partners and the scope of the multilateral exercises have come to bolster India’s efforts to boost indigenous manufacturing in the sector and carefully balance it with foreign procurements and the needs of modernizing its security apparatus. That also explains the Indian Navy’s cautious approach for the DRDO’s indigenously developed air independent propulsion (AIP) system for its $6 billion submarine tender – which has been taken out of consideration for the time-being, throwing open the opportunities for its submarine propulsion systems to global players.
“This $6 billion Indian Ministry of Defence project is expected to procure six conventionally-powered submarines through the P-75I program,” said Sourabh Banik, aerospace & defense Analyst at GlobalData.
“India is expected to cumulatively spend about $23.5 billion on both nuclear and conventionally-powered submarines between 2021 and 2031. Out of which, about 37% of the spending will be directed towards conventionally powered (non-nuclear) submarines during the same period. Considering that the P-75I program is a quarter of all submarines’ expenditure, it is understandable the Indian Navy’s cautious approach and the AIP systems they would like to include in this program,” Banik said.
According to other defence analysts, the move will offer additional design flexibility to foreign submarine builders currently competing for the project’s tender. The move to exclude the -developed air AIP system from the specifications sheet of the P-75I submarine program will also provide competitors a chance to offer their existing and proven AIP systems designs.
“DRDO’s indigenously designed AIP system is still in various developmental stages and will take a few years to be fielded as retrofits to the Indian Navy’s existing Kalvari-class submarines. The Indian Navy does not want to risk their new submarines with developmental delays of the indigenous system and that has opened opportunities for the international players,” Banik said.
At a time when the Indian defence apparatus is heavily engaged with the likes of US Navy to help prepare and augment the country’s defence readiness, this is good news indeed for investors and sector specialists around the world to contribute further to the growth and success of the Indian Navy.