SOURCE: JOYDEEP GHOSH / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
- As Mazagaon Docks is building its last2 Scorpène, govt of India has given nod to P75I submarine project for 43000 crores. Ideally it should have morphed into 6 SSNs but that project has been named P75A. MDL or L&T are supposed to build 6 SSKs in collaboration with foreign shipyards. Common Sense Dictates P75I be 9 Super Scorpene Submarine Built by MDL (Mazagaon Docks Ltd), why, ead below.
- Its’ all very well known that the 6th Scorpene submarine is about to come out of the Mazagaon docks by early to mid 2022, but after that the yard at MDL will remain idle till 2026 at least by when going by MoD’s decision making history, a winner for P75I will be selected, but until then common sense dictates MoD must order 3 additional Scorpene submarines, that will keep the production line busy till 2026atleast, and allow MDL to amortize the investment on that project and most importantly utilize human resource expertise developed for the project. Otherwise, expertise will be lost if yard is kept idle.
- These 9 Scorpene submarines (batch 1 of 6 and batch 2 of 3) of 2000 ton weight class under P75 should be upgraded later in mid-life from 2028-30 onwards with DRDO AIP module that may be ready by 2025 only, with added capability to fire torpedo tube launched SLCM version of Brahmos min.
- Common sense dictates that P75I should be the enhanced version of P75 meaning these 6 submarines should be Super Scorpene in the 3000 ton weight class (not SMX 3.0) with DRDO AIP module and VLS module capable of launching SLCM version of Brahmos (not the Brahmos mini) fitted from the start.
- Why the P75I submarines should be Super Scorpene? Simply because that offer considerable commonality in spares and maintenance cost with Scorpene submarines. Most importantly, it allows human resources or expertise trained/developed over the years for developing Scorpene submarines, to enhance their capability. Also, the industrial eco system of spare part suppliers who have invested heavily to provide parts for Scorpene submarines will only have to make minor adjustment in their production setup to supply parts for Super Scorpène.
- Why not SMX 3.0,simply because it is a concept and is quite different to Scorpene submarines, so if SMX 3.0is chosen, MDL will have to unlearn the expertise gained on Scorpene/Kalvari submarine, its investment in setup will be lost (as mistake India did with HDW/Shishumar class submarine) and relearn/redevelop the expertise for SMX 3.0. Same goes for any other class of submarine chosen.
- Why L&T should not be considered, simply because L&T has its hands full with S2/3/4 SSGN, S5/6/7 SSBN not to mention the 6 SSN under P75A.
- Most importantly maintaining 3 differently class of submarines will be maintenance and logistical nightmare for IN. it is t his reason IN is starting to retire its Sindhughosh and Shishumar class submarines (former starts 2021 and later will start 2026 probably).
- Since IN has revised its submarine program with 18 SSK, 6 SSN, and 6 SSGN/SSBN, P75I should be a project of 9 submarines and not 6. It will lower the overall cost per submarine at the outset. For instance, even if IN decides to order 3 more P75/Scorpene submarine in batch 2 to MDL, cost of each submarine will be 1.3 times at least per submarine of batch 1 thanks to inflation and overall cost escalation.
- As such common sense dictates IN should go for 9 Scorpene and 9 Super Scorpene submarines in 2 almost similar classes. It will make up for18 SSK requirement and MDL will be able to churn out 3 batch 2 Scorpene and 9 Super Scorpene at much faster rate, since its setup and human resource/ part supply is already existing and will need minor adjustment for P75I . As such better to cancel RFI for P75I since it will be a single vendor deal with DCNS/Naval Group and go for G-to-G deal directly with France for 9 Super Scorpene as that will in all likelihood further bring down the cost.
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Article by JOYDEEP GHOSH/, cannot be republished Partially or Full without consent from Writer or idrw.org