SOURCE: DIGAMBAR THAKUR / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries developers of Japan’s Stealth Soryu-class Conventional submarines was in the driver seat to secure the contract to build Australia’s next fleet of 12 submarines in a deal worth $50 billion before French company DCNS (Now Known as Naval Group) gatecrash the party and secured a one of the world’s most lucrative defense deals.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who has been driving force behind to revive Japan’s arms export industry saw this has his personal setback. Soryu lost to French proposed Shortfin Barracuda submarines which is still on drawing boards not due to technical superiority but it failed to commit to providing skilled shipbuilding jobs in Australia.
Background of to Australian debacle was largely due to Japan’s own fault, Initial assessment was that Japan was to reculant to transfer technology of Soryu to Australia and was more keen on constructing them in Japan, when tides started shifting it did offer to make them in Australia but wanted to use its own workforce in construction of the submarine in critical areas like welding and metal cutting to protect its submarine construction technics .
when all failed Japan was more than willing to offer whole transfer of technology to Australia but the ship had sailed by then and French company DCNS was announced as the winner of the Australian contract. Japanese companies in Australian contract was very possessive of its secretive Stealth Soryu-class Conventional submarines since it is Japan’s frontline ship against China and wanted to protect its technology from ever falling in hands of its rival to develop counter strategy to tackle them but it comes has hard learned experience to Japanese companies, that in International defence competition and in effort to be part of a military industrial supply chain of another country , emotions and poor transfer commitment cannot win you orders and your competitors can sweeten the deal and pull the rug of your legs to close the deal in a matter of seconds .
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries after losing Mega Australian submarine contract, now have responded to India’s tender for Six Next Generation Submarines where it will meet its old rivals it faced in Australian submarine contract. French Naval Group (DCNS) and German ThyssenKrupp both are competing with their submarines in Indian tender and Russians are putting weight behind their submarine to win Indian tender and other dark horses are Submarine proposals from Spain and Sweden which makes Indian Submarine tender highly contested one will maximum participation from submarine manufacturers in the world.
French will feel they are in driver’s seat due to their association with India’s previous Project-75 submarine contract and Germans have in past supplied India with their of older Type 209 submarines and Russians have supplied India with its Kilo-Class submarines also and Spain worked with France to develop Scorpene class submarine for India. Japanese companies, in short, are only participants who have no experience in handling India’s lacklustre slow process associated with all major arms tender and also don’t have any past experience in working with Indian shipbuilders in any previous projects.
Japanese companies will not only need to meet Indian terms and conditions for transfer of key technology but will also be open to adding Indian design systems and components in the submarine but also know how to get around in Indian Bureaucracy circles and Ministry of Defence to secure its first big order in the International defence market.
Indian build localised Soryu submarine seems nearly impossible due to all the Japan’s self-imposed handicaps and lack of experience which Japanese carry for now, but Australian submarine debacle by Japanese companies and Japanese government if it has lead to some serious change in stance and mindset, which with added Modi-Abe Bro-romance might seal the first major contract for Japan defence companies in India and also make them a major and a serious defence exporter in International Arms Bazaar .