SOURCE: Satyajeet Kumar/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Florence Parly, the French Minister for the Armed Forces, recently concluded her three-day visit to India and both France and India mutually agreed to further enhance their defense sector cooperation. Parly’s top focus was to secure second batch order for Dassault Rafale fighter jet but further maritime cooperation was also discussed including India’s Project-75I submarine tender for Six new Next Generation Conventional diesel submarines.
India already has received four proposals from France, Germany, Russia, and Sweden for Project-75I, while Spain and Japan have decided to not to respond to Request for Information (RFI) issued by Indian Navy.
Ministry of Defence sees Project-75I as the last instance of India ever procuring a foreign designed conventional submarines so the stress will largely be on learning how to manufacture this submarines domestically rather than rely on a foreign vendor to construct and assemble them locally.
Project-75I not only demands Transfer of Technology but also a high rate of technology absorption by the winning shipyards both in Public and Private space to create next-generation conventional submarine based on Indian design after completion of Project-75I.
It is also necessary to highlight that winning bid is also required to assist India in development of non-nuclear parts of India’s first Generation of Nuclear Attack Submarines even though it will not be specifically mentioned in Public. India’s Naval Design Bureau already has started work on design aspects of the Six Nuclear Attack Submarines which will go on floor by 2025.
Since Project-75I and India’s Nuclear Attack Submarines program are indirectly linked, it makes France a front-runner which recently clinched billion dollars submarine contract after it offered to provide assistance to countries which are keen on developing their own fleet of nuclear attack submarines.
Under a 2009 contract with Brazil, DCNS (now Naval Group) agreed to transfer technology for four enhanced Scorpene class submarines and also agreed to help Brazilain shipyards to provide design and production assistance for the development of nuclear attack submarine for Brazilian Navy. Assistance will be limited to non-nuclear parts and spares, while actual construction is yet to begin.
France was also awarded a $50 Billion deal from Australia for construction of 12 next-generation conventional submarines to replace their aging Collins-Class submarines. DCNS’s Shortfin Barracuda Block-1A concept was accepted by Australia which is based on Barracuda nuclear-powered attack submarine which is currently under construction in France for French Navy.
Selection of DCNS’s Shortfin Barracuda Block-1A concept design over established and in production soryu Submarines from Japan has lead to speculation that France might have offered similar design and production assistance to Australia in their attempts to develop a nuclear-powered attack submarine on lines of Brazilian deal with DCNS.
In both this deal, France has agreed to provide support for the non-nuclear part of the nuclear-powered submarines which both countries are planning but have not disclosed what actually will be the non-nuclear parts which will see transfer of technology from DCNS but it can largely be related to Submarine hull and noise reduction measures which are quite essential in design of any attack submarines .
A nuclear-powered attack submarine due its mission profiles ranging from surveillance, tailing and sneak attacks, not only requires to have a higher degree of stealth capabilities but also come with newer on-board equipment to carry out various missions in hostile waters along with improved weapons arsenal to enable them to take on any threat in the ocean if needed . While India has successfully developed nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines but, development of a nuclear-powered attack submarine is altogether a different concept which requires an even higher level of sophistication.