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The Indian Navy’s underwater arsenal is set for a potential boost with renewed talks on acquiring additional Kalvari-class (Scorpène) submarines. State-owned Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) is reportedly in advanced discussions for a deal estimated at a whopping ?35,000 crore (US$4.19 billion).

While the final price might see some reduction after negotiations later this year, each upgraded Kalvari-class submarine is expected to cost between $1.2 billion and $1.3 billion. This marks a significant jump of over 62% compared to the six Kalvari-class submarines previously acquired by India at a cost of ?23,652 crore (US$4.1 billion in 2023). This translates to a cost per unit of ?3,942 crore (US$680 million in 2023).

The new Kalvari-class submarines will boast advanced equipment and sensors, ensuring they stay at the forefront of technological advancements. However, the substantial cost increase raises concerns. Despite constructing six Kalvari-class submarines previously, MDL has been unable to push the indigenous content beyond 60%. This reliance on French original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for critical components is a key driver behind the inflated price tag.

The upcoming price negotiation committee meeting holds the potential to bring down the overall cost. However, the significant increase highlights the challenges India faces in achieving self-reliance in its defense manufacturing sector.

Despite the cost concerns, the addition of these upgraded Kalvari-class submarines will considerably strengthen India’s underwater deterrence capabilities. The Navy’s focus on acquiring these modern platforms underscores its commitment to maintaining a robust maritime defense posture.