SOURCE: VISHAL KARPE / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Kalvari class of diesel-electric attack submarines based on the French Scorpène-class submarine being built for the Indian Navy by Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai are on the roll after the third submarine INS Karanj, was launched last month, with three more submarines all set to join by 2012, Navy is making all-out effort to kickstart long-delayed successor Project 75I which is a follow-on of the Project 75 Kalvari-class submarine for the Indian navy .
Under Project 75I, Indian Navy had planned to procure Six Next generation diesel-electric attack submarines to add muscle to India’s underwater submarine fleet. Project 75I-class submarine had two key additional requirements over the Kalvari class which was to be equipped with Air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems to enable them to stay submerged for longer duration and substantially increase their operational range and to also feature Vertical launch system (VLS) to enable submarine fleet to carry Supersonic BrahMos and Sub-sonic Nirbhay Cruise missiles .
While Process to initiate Project 75I tender was started in 2014, Navy is yet to select an Indian shipyard nor any foreign original equipment manufacturer has been selected for the program to move forward. Due to delays in implementing Strategic partnership (SP) model and due to long cumbersome procurement procedure adopted to execute the project, many in Indian Navy fear that Project 75I too will face delays of 4-6 years like its predecessor Project-75 program derailing India’s 30-Year Submarine Building Plan for induction of 24 submarines in a phased manner completely.
With China making rapid increase in its footprint in Indian ocean , Recent reports hint that Navy and Government of India are considering a proposal floated by defence PSU to use Kalvari class submarine as a template to develop a new class of submarine which will replace imported content in the submarine with local alternatives sourced from Nuclear Arihant class project.
Kalvari+ will feature DRDO developed Air-independent propulsion (AIP) system and will also incorporate Vertical launch system (VLS) to launch Submarine launched Cruise missiles (SLCM) like BrahMos and Nirbhay. Kalvari+ will have stretched midsection to accommodate VLS due to which submarine will have higher displacement and will also have improved operational range.
Kalvari+ will have higher indigenized content and will have locally developed submarine Sonar suite, periscope and other sub-systems which India can source from Arihant class project. Kalvari+ not only will reduce timeline required to manufacture this six submarines for Indian navy but it also will help Public and Private sector companies to be better prepared to gain experience and expertise before India can initiate Project-76 which is to be executed after Project 75I.
India already has initiated groundwork to develop Six Nuclear Attack submarine parallel and many spin-offs from the project can be used to develop Kalvari+ Class submarine which will come handy in development of Six diesel-electric attack submarines under Project-76 based on Indian design.