SOURCE: SATYAJEET KUMAR/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh put up a brave face while addressing the media at the annual event on Navy Day, which commemorates Operation Trident – a key offensive during the 1971 India-Pakistan War when the Indian Navy inflicted heavy damage on Pakistani vessels in Karachi harbor. Navy Chief faced a barrage of questions on sinking funds for the Navy due to the slowdown in the economy and cut down in resources allocated to Navy and stress to further cut down on imported weapons system to reduce India’s import bill and save precious foreign reserves.
With 5th Scorpene Class submarine hitting waters recently and 3rd one set for induction into Navy, Navy Chief was unable to shed more light into long-pending Project-75I under which it had planned to acquire Six more Next Generation conventional attack submarines of 3000 tons displacement to be made locally in India with International collaboration. when asked about the long-delayed issue of Request for Proposal (RFP), the chief could only say it will be issued soon but that has been the standard answer even from the previous chief and in India, the 7 year period between RFI (Request for Information ) and Request for Proposal (RFP) seems to be only growing with no clarity when the program will be kick-started while the country waits for economic recovery, while many Naval analysts fear that the program might see further delays.
Interestingly both France and Russia have offered to boost, India’s underwater sea firepower at a cheaper cost and in the process also avoid the long process of construction of the new line of submarines that will see own delays due to various factors like seen in Scorpene Class submarine program. French have offered to build three new Scorpene Class submarines with major internal improvements using the existing facilities while incorporating many of the major Indian submarine techs like Air-independent propulsion (AIP) developed by DRDO for the second generation Scorpene Class submarines in India.
Russian USC reportedly offered a $1.8-2 billion “three plus three” package that would include upgrade work on three Indian Navy Sindhughosh Kilo (Project 877EKM)-class SSKs with an additional three refurbished Russian Navy Kilo-class hulls. The Indian Navy would receive the Russian-made SSKs at one-year intervals with the first boat slated for delivery three years after the conclusion of the agreement. The refit of the three Sindhughosh Kilo (Project 877EKM)-class SSKs, which entered service in 1990, 1991, and 2000 respectively, would extend their operational life by 10 years.
While Both France and Russia still are eyeing the lucrative Project-75I program, its time for India use this offer to upgrade its current undersea firepower and instead start work on the new class of attack submarines under Project-76 where design and development will be local and be manufactured in India with Public-Private sector partnership to move away from the dependence of foreign countries for its diesel-powered conventional attack submarines.
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